Literary Pilgrimages: Visiting Middle-Earth (Part 2)

 Earlier this year, I spent three months travelling around New Zealand. My primary reason for doing so? Exploring locations starring as Middle-earth in Peter Jackson’s films, of course! Come along as I revisit what will likely remain my most extensive ‘literary’ pilgrimage’.

Twizel

Flag of Rohan
Flag of Rohan used in fliming o.o

My next destination after visiting Mt. Sunday was Twizel. Twizel, a town in the Canterbury region with a year-round population of about 400, played host to thousands more cast and crew for filming of the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. This is the greatest battle scene in the trilogy, taking place towards the end of The Return of the King.  I took the two hour tour offered by local tour operator OneRing Tourstour. The location can be accessed via tour only as it is on private property. The vast, grassy fields bordered by mountains were stunning. This was my first tour with other LotR fans, and it was fun to geek out with people from around the world. The tour was very informative. I learnt a few facts I hadn’t heard before. For example, Peter Jackson initially wanted to bring in trained cavalry,  considering Canada’s own RCMP. But that idea was squashed once they realized the horses would have stay in quarantine for something like three months. I recommend this tour for fans who like to learn about the behind-the-scenes and how a big battle is brought to life.

This little water made an appearance as a larger river in The Return of the King, as Gandalf and Pippin travel to Gondor. The camera angle makes the river look much larger than it is.

The vast field – no hints of modern civilization to be found! That’s one of the main reasons this location was chosen. The placement of the mountains was also a factor. I don’t have any photos, but there was one line of telephone polls towards the edge of the field that had to be digitally removed. The road in the photo to the left was built to facilitate filming. The farmer who owns the land requested the crew leave it after filming.

I took this photo atop the ridge from where the Rohirrim make their long-awaited appearance at the Fields. Theoden, their King, gives a rousing speech before leading the charge (clip below). I haven’t watched the films since I returned from my trip. I’m a little wary of being removed from them and thinking too often “I was there!!” But when I watched this clip, I got chills. For me, there’s a sense of history about it – it has the same feel as visiting a real place where a real battle occurred in another age.

I spent ten minutes taking landscape photos while the others had fun going through the costumes and swords. I’m not the sort to dress up, but when I saw one person had donned the full Witch-king costume I couldn’t resist getting caught up in the fun…Yes, that’s a replica of Eowyn’s sword! 🙂 If ever I could pull off a real cosplay, I think I would like to cosplay as Eowyn.

  • This is wonderful! I didn’t know that the LOTR location has tours set up. Must add this to my bucket list. And the place looks so beautiful. Hard to imagine those huge armies hanging around there.

    • Thank-you~ There are a number of tours throughout the country run by various companies. It was tricky to narrow down what I wanted to do! Even so, it was an incredible trip.

  • The tour you went on sounds awesome! I’m so glad you enjoyed it 🙂
    I’ve always wanted to go to New Zealand just in general (mostly because of how amazing it looks in the LOTR films!), so it would be an absolute dream to go and visit some of the locations. I’m geeking out so much just looking at your photos and thinking ‘it looks exactly like it does in the film!’, so I would be unbelievably excited to be there.

    • Thank-you! ^^ It really is an amazing trip; so worth it. As you’ve noticed, the landscapes are still so striking even without all the set build-up.

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  • Savannah Aleksic

    That river is hobbit-sized! lol. That is so cool!