Lords of the Rings Tour to Deer Park Heights at Queenstown

Lords of the Rings Tour to Deer Park Heights at Queenstown

My most recent Lord of the Rings guided tour was to Deer Park Heights in February 2009. As the name suggests, it is 800m above Queenstown and there are heaps of deer around.

In mid-2009, the owner decided to close off this 800-hectare Deer Park for public access. It is a pity though as the scenery up there is fantastic! It was here where I had my closest encounter with a deer. Let me share with you my experiences.

Lord of the Rings Tour to Deer Park Heights
The entrance to Deer Park Heights is from Kelvin Heights Peninsula Road. As you drive along, you get to see many types of animals roaming around freely. It is kind of like a safari-style park.

The animals include Bison, Donkeys, Goats, Highland Cattle, Himalayan Thar, Llama, Miniature Horses and Sheep. There is also a nut dispenser and nut tins here for you to feed the animals.

Most people probably did not know this. There is a Korean Prison movie set made for a Walt Disney Film “The Rescue” in 1986 here! From one side, it looks like Middle Earth, and from another, it looks like you are in olden days Korea.

The owners left the movie set untouched for the last 20+ years. However, the building is no longer safe for entry. You can only view it from outside. There is probably nothing much inside anyway.

For most of the sites, we got to travel by foot. Walking sticks and waterproof jackets were provided (also for actors during Lord of the Rings filming), and it sort of gave you a feeling like you were walking in Middle Earth.

Did you know that the publicity shots for Gandalf were done right here at Deer Park Heights? In fact, the hillside angles were used for
many locations as ‘pick-up’ shots in all three Lord of the Rings films.

At a small mountain tarn 500m south of the car park, a short sequence was filmed showing Gandalf riding to Minas Tirith on the West Road to Gondor. After the cattle stop, that was the exit wall from Paths of the Dead.

Further in, at the left of a large gate, was the rock wall where the Warg scout jumped off and killed Hama. Continue upwards was where Gimli was thrown from his runaway horse, to the amusement of Eowyn.

Proceeding up the road to a walking trail led to the cliff face where Aragorn was dragged over. In the movie, there should be a river here. The truth is, that area is actually grass. Also, it was here where the Wargs and Riders of Rohan clashed.

Further up the hill, it was where Legolas did his amazing jump onto his horse before the battle. And there was also a rock shelf where Legolas fired his first arrows at the Wargs as they came over the hill.

Last but not least, around the large tarn near the top, it was where Rohirrim Refugees were led on a perfectly clear and pristine winter morning. And the extras for this scene were locals from Queenstown and neighbouring towns!

In reality, the locations are quite far apart geographically, but the finished sequences in the movies made it look so much closer. That’s the wonders of cinematography effects!

To conclude, this was an amazing half-day tour. The view up at Deer Park Heights was certainly breathtaking. Let’s hope that they will reopen the park soon for public access once again.