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One of the main things we learned while in New Zealand is that we liked the rural, mountainous regions. We couldn’t wait to get out of the cities (so when we got home we moved to LA… go figure). We left Wellington after visiting one of the Lord of the Rings Filming Locations – Weta Workshop and the adjacent studio.
Kaitoke Regional Park
Shortly outside of Wellington is a small park called Kaitoke Regional Park.
It was quiet and empty. We took the swinging bridge across the river. It was a beautiful park. You can easily see why it drew the Lord of the Rings filmmakers in.
The real life Rivendell
The park hosted Peter Jackson and the crew as the set of Rivendell. There are no longer elves or their buildings in the park, but there are signposts and markers to show how this was used as one of the Lord of the Rings Filming Locations.
There are so many big trees in the park. Many of them were featured prominently in Rivendell. There is one tree in particular that has become somewhat famous. It features next to Orlando Bloom in an early promotional photo for the films.
Areas that were cleared for set building were replanted with the original plants so that the park would be seemingly untouched when production ended.
There is just a single archway in the park. It was built after filming had completed to signify that this was Rivendell. All the original sets were removed. Any trees or plants that had to be removed were stored and then replanted once production ended.
Tongariro National Park
We continued our trek North by way of the Tongariro National Park. This area also served as one of the Lord of the Rings Filming Locations. It was home to the Dark Lord Sauron. When we drove through, it was misty and eery. Seemed to be pretty fitting.
Our last stop for the day was Huka Falls. Huka Falls is a natural canal with rushing water that thunders down small cascades. It was so crammed with tourists that the nature factor was somewhat ruined.
Even with the massive crowds, there was still the amazing, sparkling, crystal clear blue water. It is still amazing how common place that is in New Zealand. We never got tired of it.
We took our final looks and photos and headed off to our AirBnB for the night in Taupo.
If you are ever in Taupo looking for a place to stay, look up Sharon and Pete’s AirBnB. We had a great time chatting and they have a lovely home. They also gave us a great recommendation for the next morning. But more on that soon.