I am writing out of sequence here, catching up with some of the RA-related highlights of the journey. Here is a picturesque one.
We crossed over to the South Island from Wellington on the 14th of February. It had all been quite deliberately planned by us – we had booked the 2.45 pm ferry (which was due to arrive in Picton around 6.30 pm) so that we could watch the ferry making its way through the Marlborough Sounds into Picton Harbour, a journey which is supposed to be very beautiful. However, Interislander f*cked up, and our ferry did not leave Wellington until after 7pm that night!!! More than four hours late. Which not only meant that we would pass through the sounds in darkness (oh blasphemy!!!) but also that we had to drive on for an hour and a half through the night to our pre-booked accommodation. Unbeknownst to the ETC, Guylty was seething. It also meant that there was no point in stopping at Pelorus Bridge on the way to our accommodation – in the pitch dark.
You have no idea how pissed off I was when we crossed Pelorus Bridge after 10.30 pm! It was dark, I saw nothing. What a disappointment. I was only mollified later that night when we found our accommodation without any problem thanks to the proprietor’s fantastically elaborate description – and found ourselves in the most charming and most luxurious accommodation of our journey. Bad luck: Arriving after 11 pm, we were wrecked and fell into bed and had no opportunity to enjoy our cute little cottage with its massive bedroom, twin beds, big TV, two sofas and a lovely sitting area much.
The next morning we were going to head on West, but I got my wish and the ETC allowed me to go back East to Pelorus Bridge as it was only 10 minutes down the road. The bridge itself is one of those NZ peculiarities:
Most many of the bridges here – even when you are driving on the larger state highways – are one lane bridges. Economic planning by the Kiwis – why have two lanes when you can skimp, just build one lane and simply have the traffic wait until the bridge is free *ggg*. Since there is not that much traffic, it works really well.
Pelorus Bridge is where Jackson filmed the parts of the barrel scene, i.e. the dwarves coming down the river after escaping both Thranduil and the Orcs. It featured in one of the vlogs where Jackson explained that he knew the location from when his parents took him camping along the river – and he mentioned how the filming had had to be wrapped up really quickly because the police had issued a weather warning. In fact, the next day, the river had risen way above the rocks that the crew had been filming from.
Here’s a view of the river from the bridge:
I made my way down along the path to the right of the bridge to get to where PJ had been standing. There were people already there, sunning themselves, and swimming in the river. Pop Thorin demanded to be released and majestically posed for a souvenir picture:
Incidentally, here is a recommendation: When travelling NZ, bring Pop Thorin – he’s a great intro for chats. No sooner had I set Thorin on the rock, than a young woman noticed him and started cooing. “Oh, who is he???” I had to explain to the young Kiwi lady that this was Thorin and that we were at a film location. She hadn’t even seen the films!!! (But she knew about Hobbiton and suggested I go there, too. Ha! As if I didn’t know…) (A similar thing happened in Wellington in a shop where I topped-up my mobile. When I took out my wallet to pay, the assistant saw Pop Thorin in my camera bag and wanted to know what the cute little thing was. Cue a loooong swoony chat about the virtues of Richard Armitage *smirks*…)
Anyway, here’s a picture of the crew when filming (right). As you can see, I had a much brighter, sunny day when I was there. For filming purposes the overcast day was probably much better, though. In overcast weather they need not worry about overexposing the film, or of the actors squinting against the sun. Bearing in mind that much of the background was later digitally replaced by Weta, sunshine was really not necessary.
This is the bridge from the river. You may remember this from one of PJ’s vlogs:
When PJ was filming there, they had blacked out the railings of the bridge, btw, so passers-by could not see what was going on down below by the river… It was a beautiful spot, the water all turquoise and clear.
I was thrilled to just see the place but can you imagine *working* in a place like that??? More like holidays, I would say, or fun with friends. How lucky was yer man???
Anyway, I was very happy to have stopped at Pelorus Bridge – and to have seen another place which Mr A has enjoyed, too – Hobbit location or not, it was a heavenly piece of New Zealand. The beauty of this country is out of this world. I don’t think it can be described adequately with words – or in pictures, for that matter. If you like my images, just imagine the impact magnified by 10, and you are just about where the beauty of it all starts…
Thanks for reading, btw – and for your patience. I am not always able to reply to comments or to update in a timely fashion. Wi-fi is not always available where we are staying, and sometimes – if I am really honest – I am simply brim-full with impressions, and I cannot face writing them down. It is a little bit like last summer when it took me a few days to let the whole experience of TC and the SD settle, or to let go of it by writing it down. Same here – committing it to the screen means acknowledging that it is in the past, and will most likely never happen again. I am more than half way through this journey, and I am already beginning to mourn for having to leave. This country will grab you by the balls and not let go. Ok, or maybe in the case of females, it holds you by the heartstrings. It tugs and it tears, and it fills your heart with so much indescribable beauty and awe-some impressions that you will find it hard to return to reality. Or maybe it worms itself into your affections. Even before leaving I can already say that I would love to come back one day. New Zealand is addictive. Much like RA himself 😉