In The Lord of the Rings films, Rivendell is the ethereal, magical realm of the Elves. Set in a steep-sided, wooded gorge, into which waterfalls cascade, it is a tranquil haven for the Fellowship after Frodo is stabbed by the Witch-king of Angmar.
The film site is found in Kaitoke Regional Park, in the foothills of the Tararua Ranges where you can visit or camp (for a small fee) and view the site of the film set near the Hutt River.
In 2003, the former film site was a field with a handful of interpretation boards describing where the set had been situated. Wait for it…
Wait for it… in 2018 not a lot has changed!
Which is good.
There are a couple of interesting additions – an archway depicting the Fellowship’s departure point from Rivendell and a post with the characters on it which shows their actual height so you can compare yourself against it. Henry and Joe are nearly as tall as Aragorn. I am about Gandalf's height... I expected he would be taller! But hobbits take the biscuit. They are supposedly the size of children but this interactive post really brings it home to you. They are seriously small.
The interpretation boards here, in among the trees, give a lot more information than they did in 2003. There is a map showing your position in relation to the former set, this has details such as Frodo's bedroom, Elrond's house and the 'kiss bridge'. The position of certain trees is indicated, showing where exact parts of the set were but all in all quite difficult to figure out. I have included an example here just to illustrate this.
Why not just get the feel for this peaceful place by going for a walk like we did in the early morning? We met no one, and some of us did a bit of skinny dipping in the river.
Well, when you see a sign like this, it’s tempting on a hot day. The water of the Hutt River was pretty cool but it was quite early in the morning. Apparently the River Pakuratahi is warmer and calmer than the Hutt River.
There are a variety of walks and tramping tracks (the longest being 3 hours) in the park, which is open to visitors from 6 am to dusk. We chose The Swingbridge Track, a 2 km, one-hour walk crossing the Hutt River gorge and taking us through rimu and rata forest.