Ringswatch: 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 close-ups of people fighting, not panoramic, but body length, also room to pan down the skifield for charges etc.
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 everyone’s 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. “