A Tour in Twizel

Monday, 22-09-2014. Day 33.

Venturing into Rohan and Gondor

We woke up our coldest day yet (-2°C), and to falling snow. Yes, that's right, snow. This was of some small concern, because it had the potential to impact our plans for the day.

You may not be able to see it, but there's snow falling in this picture.

You may not be able to see it, but there's snow falling in this picture.

If you throw a rock in New Zealand, there's a high likelihood you'll hit a sheep. However, if you don't hit a sheep, you'll probably hit a billboard advertising a Lord of the Rings tour.

So we decided we should take in one of these tours for ourselves. We found one that was highly regarded in Twizel, a town that wasn't too far from the spot that stood in for eight major scenes set in Gondor, Rohan, and Osgiliath, including Pelennor Fields, the site of the final battle in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Fortunately, it stopped snowing about an hour before our scheduled departure time of 10:00, but it was still pretty darn cold. Dawn, our guide from One Ring Tours (who, like many residents of Twizel, worked as an extra on the films), emailed to ask us if we wanted to reschedule (because, you know, cold). But this was really the only chance we'd have to do this, so we told her we wanted to forge ahead.

Gondor to the left of the river, Rohan to the right.

Gondor to the left of the river, Rohan to the right.

Dawn picked us up a short time later took us on a very extensive tour of the area, discussing key scenes, comparing them to stills from the movies, talking about how the movies came to be filmed in the area, and regaled us with tales of what life was like on the (very large) set.

We even re-enacted the charge of the Rohirrim in Dawn's van, and the gals had great fun issuing the rallying cry of “Death!” as the van bounced along the gravel road at 60 kmh.

Charge of the Rohirrim

Dawn was a fantastic tour guide, and we had great fun. You can read more about the day's adventure in On Pelennor Fields: Taking a Lord of the Rings Tour in New Zealand, my review over on GeekDad

Watch out, orcs.

Watch out, orcs.

After the tour, we headed out of Twizel for the long drive back to Christchurch. Shortly after we left Twizel, we passed by Lake Pukaki, a large, bright blue alpine lake. It's a huge lake, and it's really a striking color that comes from silt generated by glacial erosion.

Lake Pukaki.

Lake Pukaki.

On our way to Christchurch, we had to go back through Geraldine, so we decided to try the Indian restaurant there for lunch. But, it was not meant to be. Turns out it was a bank holiday, so many of the shops and restaurants that would normally be open were not. So we settled in for a quick bite atthe only pub that seemed to be open, the Village Inn Cafe (not to be confused with the Village Brewing Company, which was closed) before we got back on the road to finish the drive.

It was a long day of driving, but at 5:00 p.m. we arrived at the Christchurch Top 10 Holiday Park, the biggest one we'd been to yet (with a drive-up check-in window) and, yes, another Jumping Pillow. The kids enjoyed an hour of riding around the compound on a double-bike with some of the other kids staying in the park while we adults relaxed before dinner. This was our last night in New Zealand, and we were a little sad.

Notable Statistics

  • Kilometers driven: 290
  • Swords wielded: 8
  • Orc masks worn: 2
  • Gondorian helms donned: 1

is a writer of things with a strong adventurous streak. He also drinks coffee.

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A Tour in Twizel
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