Well, this isnt like one of my usual travel articles. For
months Id been saying Lets organise a Tolkien Tour of Mordor.
Organise wasnt a good word, because I didnt organise a thing besides
advertising the date on the site, without much prior warning. Some wonderful people
turned up, who I will call Eowyn and Eowyns Intrepid Mother. They came with me
and so did the Grey Warbler.
This isnt much of a Locations because we
shamelessly didnt go to Mordor, which was going to be on Mt. Ruapehu. We went
to the mountain one over, called Tongariro. Same landscape, and a GREAT walk. So,
well give you lots of shots of the kind of horrid lava and ash landscape that
both places are famous for, and thats about it.
We didnt gather any LOTR news on our way round Mt. Tongariro
except when we talked to the Dept. of Conservation staff member who was on warden duty
at one of the huts where we stayed. She said that the film company had done a bit of
filming near the Tukino skifield on Mt. Ruapehu, but DOC had refused them permission to
bring in horses, helicopters and large props.
One of the props Id seen drawings of was pretty large,
building-sized, in fact, so Im not surprised that DOC dug their heels in. This
nasty-looking ashy landscape is in fact very delicate. It crunches and crumbles away beneath
every footstep, and the tiny silver plants hunkering down and surviving on it are brittle
and easily hurt.
Last word from the Sunday Star Times newspaper seems to imply that
the film company and DOC are negotiating further on that, so well wait and see.
Heres a pic of Ruapehu on the side they filmed on so far.
Anyway, we had great Mordor weather for our walk, rather misty and gloomy.
Not stiflingly hot, the way Ive always imagined Mordor, but from the point of view
of filming it, nobody will be able to tell what the temperature is.
The first days walk took us over a very shallow saddle between
Ruapehu and Tongariro. The perfect cone of Ngaruhoe was nearest to us. All the peaks were
lost in cloud, so all we could see was an endless curving expanse of alpine plants. We
finished up in the difficult-to-say Waihohunu Hut which is hidden in beechforest. Just so
you know the whole walk isnt all ghastly lava. In fact there were some lovely bits.
The next day we were on the ridge leading up to Ngaruhoe, which we
never saw much of through the cloud.
After that, it was all twisted lava, ash, craters, that kind of stuff
for the next two days! Great!
We didnt end up talking about Tolkien all that much because Eowyn
and her Intrepid Mum had way too interesting lives and it was more fascinating to talk
about their adventures travelling round NZ.
On the last day we could see a bit of Mt. Ngaruhoes cone .and
a bit of Ruapehu.
"The confused and tumbled shoulders of its great base rose for maybe
three thousand feet above the plain, and above them reared half as high again its tall
central cone, like a vast oast or chimney capped with a jagged crater. ..the plain of Gorgoroth
was below him, wrapped in fume and shadow."
Thats Mt. Doom. It seems that if you combined the images of both
our central peaks, thats pretty much what youd come up with.
Anyway, next year at about the same time, schedule willing, well
repeat the experience, so anyone thats interested, start planning now .For the
Y2001 Mordor Walk, next February.