NOTE: Click on any of the photos and then click again to see a much larger version. We think most of these are worth the clicks.

_MG_0928_smallYou can smell it in the air and see it in the water and there is just no disputing that Queenstown, New Zealand is a special place. The Hobbit Fan Contest winners left some pretty amazing experiences at Rotorua and especially Hobbiton Movie Set to climb on a plane at head to the south island of the two-island nation.

More than one fan wondered aloud, “How can they rest of the trip possibly live up to this?” And then Queenstown worked its charms. The area is heavily saturated with Lord of the Rings and Hobbit film lore. And while there was always tourism for the majestic Southern Alps and the Remarkables set around a ski resort town that also happens to be the gateway of the world, there will long be an impact there from the six episodes of Middle-earth Peter Jackson delivered. Continue reading “Hobbit Fan Contest: Queenstown, gateway to Middle-earth adventure”

Fireworks2HOBBITON — A visit to Hobbiton Movie Set for winners of the Hobbit Fan Contest had, all-in-all, a pretty amazing day — and then they saw the trailer.

For readers who don’t know, the shooting set for exteriors of the Shire in Hobbit trilogy is preserved for visitors on the farm where it was originally used for the “Lord of the Rings,” films. It provides a fully immersive environment that fans worldwide agree is singularly special and it runs tours daily.

So besIt also didn’t hurt that actors Jed Brophy, John Callen, Mark Hadlow and Stephen Hunter surprised visitors at a feast inside the full-service eatery on site: The Green Dragon. Nor did the flowing drink, the plentiful food, the expertly guided tours, but what else can be done to delight 150 of the most die-hard fans in the world?

Have Peter Jackson, by way of recorded video, introduce the just-finished, and last, trailer for “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.” It brought the house down.

DwarvesIn the very Hobbity party tent behind The Green Dragon all the gathered fans and media were clearly and repeatedly instructed to turn off our cameras so it was obvious something different was happening. Even the most honored guests, the actors were placed in the front but looking forward with the audience.

Matthew Dravitzki, an Associate Producer on the trilogy and a key figure behind Jackson’s team who usually escapes the spotlight, spoke to the fans and introduced the video. He also required that we viewers not share the details, especially the specifics, so you will not read them here. But I think its okay if I say, it’s serious as a heart attack, gloomy as a storm front and as epic as battle of five armies.

And wow, do my fingers itch to type more.

Afterwards the groups of fans, split up for logistical purposes and took the new (to me) night tour around the set. Under the party tree the groups gathered to finally end a pretty amazing day. In fact, it may be difficult to match during the rest of the trip. To say fans were ecstatic is no exaggeration. There were, at several points, tears of joy and disbelief.

GondolaThe day started in the rain at the Skyline Rotorua. Fans and reporters were generously offered the opportunity to enjoy various activities that included wine tasting, a zip line, a luge and a skyswing. Then it was off to the movie set for a day that was absolutely packed.

TORn interviewed the four actors together in a group with hilarious results. We will post it at a later date, depending on how quickly we get the video and quickly I can possibly post it but it’s great fan service from four classy New Zealand gentlemen.

The owner of the sheep and cattle farm the set sits on and his son who run it, Ian and Russel Alaexander, were on hand for interviews as well. TORn didn’t catch up with them, but plenty of media outlets did. In the late afternoon, in the guise of introducing The Green Dragon, fans were led into the room where the actors and executives were enjoying dinner and where media was stationed to grab reactions. As anticipated, tears where shed, hugs were shared and memories were made. Staff working on the event expressed a lot of tender emotions while watching fans enjoy the surprise so much.

I was pleased to have time to mix and mingle with fans — and I met a lot of them and enjoyed it every time. Before long it was trailer time. Despite this group’s appointment this week to screen the actual film with director Peter Jackson, the trailer announcement was greeted with great excitement.

Dravitzki promised a triple showing and delivered. All three times fans hushed each other at the start, not wanting to miss any dialog.

Then it was outdoors for the night tour when fireworks were triggered. Then, off to buses and tomorrow, Queenstown.

forest_river_aerialIt’s
undoubtedly the dream of many a Tolkien fan to set foot in Hobbiton – or, really, any of the countless other locales you will find in The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films.
Many have, in fact, traveled to the beautiful country of New Zealand to do just that. However, not all of us have had the opportunity (or means) to travel and see Middle-earth for ourselves. To illustrate just what awaits us across the globe, NewZealand.com has just the solution. Continue reading “‘Take a Flight’ through the filming locations of Middle-earth”

Red Carpet's Premiere Tour group dressed up for their Hobbiton visit
Red Carpet’s Premiere Tour group dressed up for their Hobbiton visit

Red Carpet is steadily adding new locations into its tours in the light of the new Hobbit movie, says director Vic James.

“We’re pretty excited because since the Unexpected Journey came out, we’ve been able to add new sites and new people,” James says. “We visit landowners and check out new locations on a regular basis, as information and invitations come to hand.

“The Premiere Tour last November was the first to visit some of the new places and when the time is right for further landowners to allow visits, we will add them in.”

The north island leg of the tour includes, as before, Hobbiton and the central volcanic plateau that served as Mt Doom. A new feature are some rapids where the dwarves’ more hair-raising barrel-riding scenes were filmed.

The ‘top’ of the South Island is a beautiful addition to the tour, James says.  Nelson, with its sunny bay ringed by mountains,  is reached by a ferry cruise through the beautiful fjords of Marlborough Sounds. There’s a stop along the way at Pelorus Bridge, scene of Bilbo and the dwarves’ barrel-riding adventures.

Red Carpet’s LOTR tours always include visits to extras, artisans, actors and crew members for the films. Halfdan Hansen, son of the real-life Ringmaker for LOTR, has  his studio in Nelson and has created a new version of the Ring, invisibly weighted with some denser metal so that it lies strangely heavy on the palm of the hand.

In Nelson there is also the option to take a two-and-a-half hour helicopter flight to Dimrill Dale and South of Rivendell.  The flights have been a huge success with tour guests.

Olympus Rocks - a place to hide from the spies of Saruman
Olympus Rocks – a place to hide from the spies of Saruman

To accommodate the extra locations, tours are now 14 days duration. People can also choose to join the North Island 6 day or the South Island 10 day options. “It’s a long way to come to not see it all,” James says.

Tolkien shopWelcome to the latest “Getting to know…” questions that need answering. Based on the old Getting to know you threads that I used to post on the message boards here on TORn, so those familiar with them will know that the questions can be a little crazy and the answers even crazier.

This month we’re asking questions of uber fan from Brisbane Australia, Peter Kenny.

Hi Peter and thank you for joining in 🙂

Kelvarhin:  What piece of Tolkien ephemera began your collection?

Peter: My very first Tolkien Book was a single volume paperback edition of The Lord of the Rings given to me as a gift in 1976. I still have that original copy in my collection.

Continue reading “Getting to know Peter Kenny”

If you have a Tolkien/Middle-earth inspired poem you’d like to share, then send it to poetry@theonering.net. One poem per person may be submitted each month. Please make sure to proofread your work before sending it in. TheOneRing.net is not responsible for poems posting with spelling or grammatical errors.