New Zealand: The Lord of the RingsVisit the Pelennor Fields
The Battle of the Pelennor Fields is one of those key moments in the One Ring saga. The decisive clash between man and evil took place on a vast expanse of grassland below the mighty city of Minas Tirith. Director Peter Jackson was tasked with the challenge of finding a location that not only had to evoke the same atmosphere described in the book, but also had to be suitable for filming horses in full gallop. Man, did the location scout do a great job!
The area chosen for filming is situated amidst the golden tussock hills of the Mackenzie Country, named by and after James McKenzie in the 1850s. He was a sheep thief who hid his stolen stock in this vast and empty landscape.
The film crew set up camp in a paddock near the town of Twizel. Filming took 32 days, with up to 1,700 people on set. Not to mention the 200 horses. On some days, almost the entire population of Twizel would be helping out, either as orc extras, or as support the crew behind the camera. All the filming took place on private farmland.
The only way to access the Pelennor Fields is with a guided tour through OneRing Tours. Three different tour options are available: a 1-hour tour, a 2-hour tour and a twilight tour.
The tour departs from the tourist information in the town centre of Twizel.
In March 2017, Stefan went on OneRing Tours' 2-hour location trip.
Starting at 10am in the centre of Twizel, myself and three other fans received an enthusiastic welcome from business owner and head guide Dawn. After a short drive, during which Dawn pointed out a few minor location scenes - Gandalf and Pippin on their way from Edoras to Minas Tirith and wide shot of Minas Tirith - we arrived at the Pelennor Field. The scenery was instantly recognisable.
The first scene we looked at involved Faramir's escape from the ruins of Osgiliath. As his men are killed off by the Nazgûl one by one, Gandalf grabs Pippin, jumps on Shadowfax and gallops out of the gates of Minas Tirith.
No matter where you turn at this location, every angle and direction made it on screen.
Back in the van, we made our way along a ridge line to a spot of great movie significance:
Dawn drove around the ridge and stopped the vehicle on the hilltop where the Riders of Rohan gathered. The views were simply stunning. To our delight, we were given several replica weapons - including Anduril (Aragorn's sword), Glamdring (Gandalf's sword) and Sting (Frodo's sword) - and posed for the obligatory photographs.
Back down on the flats, we experienced first-hand what it must feel like to ride a horse into battle. Dawn ramped up the engine and put the pedal to the metal, until we hit the 60 km/h mark. Crazy to think about the difficulties for the film crew to shoot a galloping horde of 200 horses over and over again. It took a gang of ten local guys around 20 days to fill every single rabbit hole before the filming could take place.
We all thought the tour was coming to an end, when...
Luckily, we had an elven princess on board.
Long story short, we made it back to Twizel safe and sound. As Dawn pulled into the carpark, she recognised one of the locals and waved him over. It turned out that this guy had played an orc in the movie. Once again, this confirmed for me that every Kiwi knows someone who was part of The Lord of the Rings.
Would I do this tour again: Yes, in a hearbeat. The location is stunning, and Dawn provides exactly the kind of location experience we fans are after.
Click here to find out more about the experiences offered by OneRing Tours.