August 22, 2000
Materializes in Mid-Canty
It sits upon Mount Sunday, more than 70 minutes drive south-west of Methven.
Secrecy surrounds the set, and some residents have signed confidentiality agreements with the film's production company Three Foot Six, agreeing not to divulge details.
One resident, who did not wish to be named, said building started on the set last December or January.
"Builders from all over the country are working on it from Monday to Saturday.
"It's one of the most incredible things I have ever seen," she said.
When The Press visited the set, workers could be seen operating a large crane at the back of an immense wooden building with gothic features.
Other smaller buildings surrounding it appeared to be completed, with horses' heads adorning their tops.
At the bottom of the set behind a Keep Out sign, piles of timber, Portacom units, large freight containers, and a caravan acted as a base for workers.
It is understood the set is under 24-hour security guard and 50 workers are taken by bus from Methven every day to the isolated location. Resident Tiny Buckley said the rumours were that filming would begin next month.
"It's really impressive, but when they finish they've got to take the whole thing down and leave everything like it was before they started," he said.
The publicist for the $360 million production, Claire Raskind, said large battle scenes would be filmed.
The set represents Edoras, the capital city of Rohan, from J. R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth.
The Defence Force has been enlisted to take part in the battle scenes, and casting sessions have been held in Ashburton, Timaru, Oamaru, and Twizel, to employ people to work as extras.
Ms Raskind said the location was a good one.
It had a broad New Zealand landscape surrounding the set.
Part One of the film will be released during Christmas 2001.