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Nienna Miriel, visiting her adopted country of New Zealand, has this to report about her stay in Golden Bay, on the northwest end of the south island:
“I stayed at the Golden Bay Lodge, a lovely B&B; in Tukurua. Their web site mentions that Sir Ian McKellen stayed with them during filming of Lord of the Rings, so I asked, and got the full story, which I haven’t seen elsewhere.
“As it turns out, not only Sir Ian, John Rhys Davies, Viggo Mortensen, and Sean Bean also stayed at the Lodge during filming of scenes in the Kahurangi National Park. (Although apparently John Rhys Davies wasn’t on call–perhaps they were using his size double–so he slept in till 11!)
In any event, one morning a rather unusual thing occurred: a Right Whale swam up just below the house, which is on a cliff above the ocean. My hosts rousted out Sir Ian, thinking he’d want to see it, which indeed he did. Then off he went to film.
“Well, a few hours later all these cars drive up–it’s several cast and crew members, including Orlando Bloom, come to see the whale. Now, whales don’t generally hang around, even against the possibility of movie stars showing up to admire them. My hosts were explaining this when, lo! and behold! back comes the whale (apparently a starstruck marine mammal). Orlando et al. commandeered the Lodge’s kayaks and went off for a close encounter.
“Thanks to Ray and Mary at Golden Bay Lodge for this great story, and for hospitality above and beyond the call! (And in case you are wondering which room I stayed in–let’s just say it suited my dwarfish height…)”