New Zealand: lord of the tourist traps

Imagine you are staring up at a big dirty quarry covered with cranes, whilst a man tells you that this is where Peter Jackson filmed the battle of Helms Deep. In the back of your mind the $90 that you spent on this Lord of the Rings tour in New Zealand goes up in metaphoric flames, but that is trivial compared to the crushing ache of disappointment.

The three people that you managed to persuade to join you on this tour are looking at you with a mixture of anger and disbelief. The visions of Arwen sauntering through Rivendell, a Nazgul attacking Minas Tirith and Gimli puffing along the fields of Rohan with his axe, quickly evaporate. After paying $90, I almost expected to bump into Treebeard.

Throughout the day we were given staffs to imitate Gandalf; blonde wigs, elf ears and a bow and arrow to imitate Legolas. We even rolled down hills to act out hobbits escaping from ring wraiths, all in places around Wellington where they were supposedly filmed.

The salvaging point which the group were anticipating was the gourmet lunch but although we didn’t expect a three course meal with real silver cutlery, we certainly expected more than half a cold subway on a picnic bench.

At various points throughout the day I wanted to find Mount Doom and throw myself into it, alas, that did not exist either. Although the whole tour was a complete shambles, I cannot avoid the fact that it was hilarious. However, this was a man’s livelihood, and like other times when you know that laughter is extremely rude, the fact you have to hide it sends you into a vicious circle of hilarity.

So, if you want to see the wonders of Hobbiton and Gondor then I suggest you find an Imax, for the experience would be a lot more in touch with reality. Damn CGI, damn my naivety, but thank you Mr. Tour guide for conning us into one of the funniest days of our lives.


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August 2022
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