And of course, the answer is an enthusiastic and unequivocal YES!
I’ve been a J.R.R. Tolkien fan since high school I guess, when we were required to read The Hobbit. And then, I became a Peter Jackson fan with the release of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. After our visit to New Zealand where all of the movies have been shot, my appreciation for all things hobbit has begun to touch the edge of fanatical.
A Visit to Welly-wood, New Zealand
We started our tour last year in Wellington, which has become known as Welly-wood because of the exploding film production industry there. Our first stop was at the Weta Cave, a visitors center of sorts for the Weta Workshop, the creative genius behind the costumes and creatures and middle-Earth images of Lord of the Rings. FYI – a weta is a bug, kind of like a cricket, so you might see that image on many things throughout New Zealand.
Our next stop was Mount Victoria, a city-park like setting and the highest point in Wellington. The views of the harbor are beautiful, but the trees are what brought Peter Jackson and the film crew here. Early in the Fellowship of the Rings, when Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin have been run out of the farmer’s fields and then stumble down an embankment into the forest – that’s in Mount Victoria. And then the black rider comes riding down the road? That’s right here.
But we got the best sense of New Zealand’s contribution to the magnificence of The Lord of the Rings production as we toured the South Island by camper van. One day we took a flight seeing tour over the snow-covered mountains and into Milford Sound. That day erased any doubt when answering the question “Is New Zealand as really as beautiful as it looks in the movies?” What do you think?