View more photos on my web page: photography.asni.net ** prints availlable on  DeviantArt

I have to apologize (to the small and select group of people who have so far subscribed to this blog) for taking a lengthy break: I do intend to continue! Indeed, I have a backlog of nearly a decade of photos to work my way through … so I won’t run out of topics any time soon.

I had to move my website to a different server, though, which has been a bit of a hassle, so I haven’t gotten around to updating it with new photo galleries in a little while. I won’t be able to keep up the pace of once a week in the near future, either, but for now, will do a blog post once a month, until perhaps one day my workload will look a bit smaller! :Yeah right… :

The location where the sets for “Rivendell”, in Peter Jackson’s film version of “Lord of the Rings”, were built, is not far from my home – Kaitoke Regional Park, nestled into the Rimutaka hills, which I have to cross on my way to Wellington. The park can be reached via Waterworks Road, off State Highway 2. The location is signposted, a small area next to the river, a 1 minute stroll from the parking space.

I used to visit the park quite regularly while I lived in Wellington, but now that I live in the country, there has been no need to get out of the city, so I hadn’t been there in a little while when, one sunny day last May, I decided on a spur to go on a photo shoot and get some new images for next year’s edition of my Middle Earth New Zealand calendar.

Given that Rivendell will undoubtedly appear again in “The Hobbit”, I was curious to see if the same location was going to be used again to build the sets. But I could discover no traces of recent film shoots. The area had been planted up after the devastation wrought by the film crews: this is now quite a few years ago, and by now the area is pleasantly overgrown, and showed no signs of having been recently disturbed.

The only change I noted is a little platform by the steep drop down to the river on one side of the former filming area, which is where the main set building had stood. There is a very remarkable old twisted tree root there: I am pretty sure I have spotted it in the movie! One or two of the tree trunks look a bit familiar, too.

Continuing to walk from the film set area, I followed a walk looping back to the parking lot, through some gorgeous ancient rimu forest – it was going toward sundown, and the play of the tree shadows and the evening sun on the mountainside was well worth a few shots!


The Breaking of the Fellowship

The Mavora Lakes – North and South Mavora Lake, that is – are nestled between two mountain ranges just across the lake from Queenstown. To get there, however, one must first drive all the way around the southern end of Lake Wakatipu, then circle back from the main highway to Te Anau, via some 40 km of unsealed road.

One is well rewarded for braving the trip. Eventually, the road branches off to the right  – incidentally, this spot appears in “The Two Towers”, when Gandalf summons Shadowfax — yes, THAT scene!) — and enters one of the Southern Beech forests which are so typical for Fjordland. Passing South Mavora Lake, it eventually arrives at a DOC campsite at the southern tip of North Mavora Lake. Like all DOC campsites, the facilities are very basic, but the location!!! It is a popular spot for hiking enthusiasts, as well as the occasional school class.

The sunrises at Mavora are a very special spectacle. The location is nestled between two mountain ranges, and it takes the sun a while to climb on top of the mountain range to the east. If you are an early bird, you can watch dawn descend and wander down the mountain flank to the west, until the bright star appears and the light is switched on down on the ground.

The film location proper can be reached via a short walk up the hiking path on the eastern lake shore. As the walkway enters the forest, you can spot the location of the orc battle to your right. A little further on, there are still some traces left of heavy vehicles widening the walkway – down on the beach is the spot where the fellowship lands and sets up camp together for the last time, and where Frodo makes the tough decision to continue his way alone. Looking across, it is easy to recognize the “Eastern Shore” which Frodo and Sam are trying to reach in their boat – in actual matter of fact, it is the western shore of the lake, but such is artistic freedom. 😀

I have visited this location on three or four occasions – these photos were all taken on a two day visit in 2007, when amidst a rainy Fjordland autumn, we managed to catch a bright blue sun, and wind- and cloudless day. The last time I dropped by, however, I spent a day lying on my belly in my tent and reading a book (The Left Hand of Darkness – all of it) while the rain poured relentlessly down outside — no chance to take photos on that occasion!

View more photos on my web page: photography.asni.net ** prints availlable on Artflakes ** or on  DeviantArt