Years ago, I got hooked on A Game of Thrones. I was surprised to see HBO take the ambitious step of turning A Game of Thrones into a series – and doing a pretty good job of it too. Sure, some of my favorite background characters didn’t make the cut; a few situations changed too. But overall, HBO did a nice job preserving the essence of A Game of Thrones.
My first glimpse of The Wall, which the Night’s Watch guards to protect the realm from all sorts of encroaching bad stuff, added some fun for me. I realized that I’d been to there in-person. That revelation made me think of movie and TV filming locations I’ve visited in my travels. These were the first three that came to mind.
The Wall from A Game of Thrones
The real-life version of The Wall is Godafoss Waterfall, a waterfall between Akureyriand Myvatn in northern Iceland. I visited in summer, long before the first movie crews arrived to turn it into a filming location for A Game of Thrones. So what appears on your TV screen as an icy monstrosity 750 feet tall was considerably smaller, and flowing with milky-green water. I admire the creativity of the people who decide on locations for A Game of Thrones. I wouldn’t have looked at Godafoss and said “this is The Wall.”
And I know just about everyone hated Prometheus. I was less harsh since I’m not an Aliens fanboy. I saw the problems with it, but there were still parts I enjoyed – like the opening credit sequence, which pans over the landscape you’d see in the first stage of the Laugavegur trek leading away from Landmannalaugar. I annoyed my friends by chanting “I camped there, I camped there!”
Mordor and Mount Doom
I’m not a big Lord of the Rings fan. But the scenery is pretty epic. You can see Middle Earth filming locations throughout New Zealand – all the locations are there, and I’ve been to many of them. But nothing is cooler than saying you’ve climbed Mount Doom – in real life, it’s called Mt Ngauruhoe. To get there, you have to hike through the Rangipo Desert, which is also Mordor (but just known as the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in the real world). I still keep meaning to go back and watch the corresponding movie in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
If you like Hercules:The Legendary Journeys or Xena: Warrior Princess, you can scope out many of their locations in New Zealand, too. Unfortunately, you’re not likely to run into Bruce Campbell.
Indiana Jones on the Run
Raiders of the Lost Ark gets off to a rolling start, with Indiana Jones out-sprinting a giant stone marble that wants to squash him flat. He hightails into an amphibious plane and flies to safety.
You can kayak up that river with a visit to Kauai. It’s called the Hule’ia River, and it’s a major point for tourism in Kaua’i. I’m a big fan of Kauai since it’s more laid-back than anywhere else I visited in Hawaii. It’s mind-bogglingly green and verdant, and the Kauai topography doesn’t stay flat very long. Add the Raiders of the Lost Ark factor, and it’s obvious why so many film crews choose to work in Kauai.