7 AM start! Today I learned Kellogg’s Rice Krispies cereal is called “Rice Bubbles” in NZ and Australia. Haha! After breakfast, Kylie & I adventured outside and took some photos over the ever-so-steamy Lake Rotorua! We also checked out this cute little geyser in the parking lot. Upon returning, we learned the coach would be an hour late, so we got our bags down and all gathered ’round to watch the JUST RELEASED #9 Hobbit production video!! So excited! Then, onward to the Aratiatia Rapids (part of the Waikato River.) This was where they filmed the flooding of Isengard — “Break the dam! Release the river!” We had a great view, and the water was so, SO, so, so, SO beautiful.. blue-green, crystal clear with white rapids. So pretty. Then our group enjoyed some coffee/tea/milk & cookies over the River Isen… 😉
We continued on the Waikato River to Huka Falls. RAPIIIIDS; so awesome. Then more driving. Scotty mentioned that “Today’s an easy day,” and, we’re going to Mordor today. How ironic. 😄 We made a pit stop over a grand green view.. wait, “a far green country.” Haha, then continued on. We realized we’d be late for lunch, so we started talking about foods in LOTR and all the food quotes 😄 someone said “Elvish, you got any Lembas?” She replies “ACTUALLY…” followed by *facts about rules against mortals to have it because it will cause a desire of Valinor* or something 😄 “You didn’t answer the question!” “I’m not telling!” 😄
Mount Ruapehu (Mordor & Emyn Muil!)
Amidst all the talking, we spotted Mount Doom (or should I say, one of, as a few mountains were used) which was actually Mount Tongariro; and we learned that it erupted about 5 days ago, the day we were flying in, actually (November 21st, 2012)! It was steaming like crazy today. And soon, Mount Ruapehu came into view: our next destination! This is where a lot of on-site filming for Mordor, Emyn Muil, and the Plains of Gorgoroth was done.
Along our windy drive up, up, up & around the mountain, we could see old ash/lava/etc. marks from past eruptions. And once we arrived at the “Top of the Bruce”, Elvish, Kylie, and Sarah… SIMPLY WALKED INTO MORDOR. Yes, it happened. And it was beautiful. Then, of course, we took a lot of photos, and Kylie touched snow for the first time!! 🙂 One crazy thing happened: As us 3 were out on our own without a location guide or anything, Elvish was like, “this looks like where Frodo & Sam try to casually hide from the orcs!” So, naturally, we took some photos there… and it wasn’t until 6 months later, May 2013, I realized IT WAS. We didn’t know it was really it, but we were sitting in the EXACT same spots as Frodo & Sam! Compare the details! (My photo & the film still are below this photo ⬇️)
We returned to our Company for a delicious lunch in Mordor, and then we started our trek across the Land of Shadow! The first significant location we came to was where we first meet Gollum in the Two Towers: Crawling down the rocks anticipating an attack on the sleeping Hobbitses!
Our next pit-stop was along the edge of a huuuuge dip in the mountain, with a great view of Mount Ngauruhoe. This valley we were looking down on was so intense! “Very fall to fall. Careful, master. Careful!” We talked about how whenever we hear something LOTR related, we perk up & get excited. When here, it’s all the time, and sometimes we forget, then remember: “OH YEAH, I’m with a bunch of geeks!” 😄 Ahh then we made our way to the little pathway in Emyn Muil where Gollum has his Elven-rope tantrum! 😀
Kristi, Elvish & I acted out the whole scene, and it was so perfect.
Next, Scotty showed us an exact spot where Peter Jackson had a bunch of equipment set up, 😄 AND where Elendil fell moments before Isildur cut the Ring from Sauron’s hand!! And our last Ruapehu location was where the battle on the plains of Gorgoroth took place. We ended the mountain tour by charging across the edge of the slope, and having a snowball fight 😉 Then we headed out! Goodbye Mordor, you’ve been ever so lovely!! (Again, quite ironically…)
On our drive back we passed our hotel, which looked amazing (no wonder… you’ll know why it was amazing soon) but first drove up to Mangawhero Falls – this is where Gollum chased the fish down the stream in the Two Towers. I’m sure some of you have heard the story of Andy Serkis freezing in that water, as they filmed in the middle of winter, and how he almost fell over the edge of the falls! Playing around here was fun. We walked & splashed through the refreshing water in our barefeets, Elvish sang Gollum’s song, and we moved to another side where we could actually see the long, thin falls. It was so cool!
Powderhorn Chateau 😉
(Now this section is coming straight from my personal journal!!) “On our drive down to our next hotel, we all sang Into the West 😉 And then arrived at the Powderhorn. Oh boy.. I had no idea what I was in for. In Hobbiton I was excited about standing where Sean Astin & Elijah Wood stood… well, when I walked into the hotel, Elvish was looking at the list of room numbers all excitedly, and I heard someone say, “We got Dom’s room!” I asked, “whaaat is going on?” aaaand, I was told that the entire cast had stayed here! So, yeah. AWESOME. I checked the list of rooms for our party (which included Peter Jackson, Ian McKellan, Elijah, Sean Astin, Billy, Dom, Orlando, John R-D, and Andy Serkis), I checked Kylie & my room number… and we got no one’s room. NOOOOOOO!!! 😦 D’: no no no!! But then, Joe & Cheese were SO very kind enough to actually trade with us!! 🙂 And guess who’s room we got? Well, no, not Elijah’s (Scotty got his room, lol) BUT — SEAN, CHRISTINE & ALI ASTIN. OooOooOMG! ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ #307 😉 Arwen & Elvish got Billy Boyd’s room, & I don’t recall who else got who’s.”
So then Kylie & I went up to our room (haha, funny that that^ whole paragraph is only from the lobby & check-in) Kinda freaking out! ^__^ But seriously, our room is BEAUTIFUL. Ugh, the whole place is just magnificent! After getting settled, we went back down & talked with the concierge. She showed us their T-shirt signed by Sean & Elijah, as well as the guestbook signed by all the cast/crew that stayed! We also purchased a little certificate & “room key” keychain saying who’s room we stayed in 😉 So much fangirling tonight 😄
Then we headed down to dinner in the hotel restaurant, and wow $30 for a pizza? I just stuck with garlic cheese bread for, as they say, “seven dollars fifty.” They were quite delicious though & a fair size! During dinner 2 Australian girls, Bella & Jeanie, joined us as we swapped our adventure stories thus far. And after dinner, Kristi, Joe, Elvish & I went for a swim in the incredibly awesome pool there! The room was very dim and the water very warm, and it had steep ramps along the edges and a bridge where the pool connected underneath. It was so cool 😉 Following that, we settled in for the night, on to the next day!