But it wasn't some unspeakable horror that was making them so guarded; it was the fear of 1999-era film set leaks, most likely coming from a .net site that was found through Ask Jeeves. "They didn't put a wall around it, but they had security and these huge squares with netting up in places where you could see the town they were making. We would go up there, and this Aussie guard would tell everyone to not stay and to keep going."
It's impossible to overstate how much of a culture shock this was for people like Myer. "This was out of the blue for us. This was before September 11, and you could literally wander onto military camps here, and at the time you might get a polite 'Please get off' after a few hours. Not so there. New Zealand military secrets? Meh. The news of what Gandalf's costume would be? STATE SECRET!"
If you think Myer is playing up these comparisons for comedy purposes, the stories he tells say otherwise. "Me and a few friends went onto the farm for fun, and we immediately had Range Rovers coming for us ... we were questioned by their security, asked if we had cameras, and then they called the local police to take us. Which they did, saying that next time they wanted jail time ... They told us, 'If you sneak in there again, I don't know if we can guarantee you coming out like this again. They're very serious.'"
Meanwhile, the owner of the Alexander farm where the set was built -- who had no idea what The Lord Of The Rings was -- would get calls from Peter Jackson telling him his sheep were getting into the shot.