The Ride of The Ring
If Queenstown is the downtown lady in the social spotlight, Glenorchy is her shyer little sister who lives upstate and keeps her secrets offline. I went to visit her for two reasons: (1) I wanted to spend a day in the sleepier, “real” New Zealand and (2) I didn’t want to dress up like a hobbit (publicly).
With the Potter-esque popularity of LOTR bringing thousands of Frodo fanatics to New Zealand for a glimpse of Middle Earth, there are numerous tour opportunities to get your elf on. If you are a fan but want to have a LOTR experience without the cheese, I highly recommend heading to Dart Stables in Glenorchy (a 40-minute scenic, sheep-filled drive north of QT) to spend the day with their group of four-legged movie stars riding through the filming locations.
During the beginner morning ride, I rode Scar (all talk) through Isengard, along the Misty Mountains and through the forests where men and orcs collided, listening to my knowledgeable and spunky guide bring the scenes to life. I played Arwen during the advanced ride in the afternoon when Ben and I galloped through willow-filled valleys and forged the Dart River, one of the largest braided river systems in the world.
Three Fun Filming Facts:
1. When local riders tried out to be extras in the soldiering crowds of LOTR and The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, the ladies were the better riders, so the majority of the extras you see careening behind the leads are women in padded armor.
2. The filmmakers were originally against using Glenorchy horses, preferring the hired hands instead. That is until they couldn’t get the mercenaries to cross the river, turning the outcasts into the first line in the Calvary to encourage the other horses across.
3. The local forest conservation group was so worried about filming killing off the local plant life in the areas where most of the forest scenes were shot that Jackson spent a fortune taking detailed GPS-noted photographs of the forest floor, excavating the shrubbery and transporting it to a monitored greenhouse until it could be put back in its exact spot after the cameras wrapped.
Click here to take The Ride of The Rings.