April 29, 2000
A Report From Whakapapa
The following report of recent happenings in the Ruapehu area the site of the
latest filming of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy was sent to Scoop by a recent
visitor to the area
Apparently the 700 crew have been filming last week
(pre Easter) around Whakapapa. We went up to the skifield (top of the Bruce) and a lot of
equipment, lighting rigs, cables, etcetera, were set up in Happy Valley skifield at
the time (Saturday), totally snowless, very rocky and misty, wonderfully atmospheric.
Lots of trucks and boxes (well metal sheds) labelled
"tech", a big lighting unit up on the ridge overlooking the happy valley
skifield (that ridge that goes steeply down into the valley beyond if you know the
skifield). Also a big lighting boom/crane thing that looked like it was able to be swung
around with a big light set on the end.
Not a lot of people or security was seen, just some
suspicious Wellington looking guy in a trench coat waving a polaroid. He wasn't saying
anything. It kinda looked like there would be room to film mid range closeups of
people fighting, not panoramic, but body length, also room to pan down the skifield for
At the entrance to the skifield, there were a lot more trucks
and sheds including a large Marquee tent. On Tuesday morning the ski lodge owner where we
were staying said that this Marquee tent was Weta's
300 person costume tent and had been snowed under during the night, and part of it had
collapsed causing damage.
Also, he reckoned that it was going to stuff up the shooting
schedule (....well thats unusual), as they were filming in areas that had no snow that
were now covered (On Tuesday it snowed for several hours in the afternoon down to around
1000 feet I think, below Waitonga Falls, all the trees were covered, and everything was a
bit dim, but extremely picturesque).
The walking areas were all carefully fenced (metal stakes and
"hotsite" plastic tape), and adjacent scrubby areas were carefully covered with
green garden netting to protect them. I guess a fairly active skifield is also a good way
to get around some of these issues.
The lady at the Ohakune visistors centre said that they had
been filming round Whakapapa that week, over Easter near Tukino and this week were moving
round to film on the Turoa side of the mountain.
Mostly the discussion was on the attendant lack of
accommodation, in that everything was booked out. Mostly everyones in motels though
(especially film crew), not backpackers, though the ski lodge guy said that yeah they
would put extras in places like this(one of the nicest backpackers I've been in), but even
then they get there own room. Bloody Hollywood.
Furthermore at the Powderhorn the hippest bar in
Ohakune they kept closing the hot pool bar at 6pm because the lady said they had
"very important guests upstairs" and because the noise travels and they didn't
want to disturb them.