Glenorchy's version of Gandalf, Rod Spackman, has become a
real-life lord of the rings for tourists on his
In less than a year, Mr Spackman (65) has achieved an
extraordinary hat trick of reuniting couples with wedding
rings thought lost forever in the heart of Middle Earth
The movie adaptations of JRR Tolkien's The Hobbit and
The Lord of the Rings books feature many scenes filmed
in Paradise, near Glenorchy, where Mr Spackman gets into
character as wizard Gandalf while working as a tour guide for
Dart River Jet.
''I put the Gandalf suit on and walk them through the
Honeymooning Chinese couple Elaine and Rong Hua had just
returned to Glenorchy from a Dart River trip in Paradise last
month when Mr Hua realised his wedding ring was missing.
''Because it's particularly cold at this time of year they
[tourists] tend to wear gloves ... and they take them off to
take photos ... and of course the ring comes off with the
gloves,'' Mr Spackman said.
While guiding another group through the Dart Valley
wilderness the next day he kept an eye out for the missing
''It really was a long-shot that we'd find it ... the bush is
dense, muddy and wet, so chances were it had been entrenched
into the mud and lost forever.
''At one point we stopped to talk about the surrounding
forest and I looked down into the leaves and saw this ring
sparkling at me. I simply couldn't believe it.''
In the past eight or nine months Mr Spackman has found two
other lost wedding rings in Paradise.
One belonged to a United States couple married for 40 years
who were so delighted with the return of their ring they
invited Mr Spackman to stay with them any time he was passing
through Los Angeles.
''It's a really good feeling to be able to reunite people
with something so special.''
While hoping to improve his ring-retrieval record - ''There's
another one up there that I haven't found yet'' - Mr Spackman
was unsure whether he had a special knack for finding lost
''Because you're walking through the forest area you've got
to be looking down anyway a lot of the time to watch your
footing ... I seem to just be probably a magpie, attracted to
shiny things ... I should make a business out of it.''
The Huas, who had been home in China less than three hours
when Dart River Jet phoned with the good news, recently sent
the company a letter of thanks.
''We thought our ring would be lost in Paradise forever as
the environment is so complicated.
''It left us so moved and our passion and love of New Zealand
has grown stronger,'' they wrote.
''We believe the ring that was lost in Lord of the
Rings land now has magic to bring eternal blessing to our
The inscription inside the fictional ''One Ring'' from the
Lord of the Rings trilogy says: ''One Ring to rule
them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all
and in the darkness bind them''.
''I certainly think for this lucky couple their ring will
bind them forever,'' Mr Spackman said.
''I think it's incredibly good luck I found it, so maybe
something magical was at play in the forest that day.''