By David Farrier
A Dutch Lord of the Rings enthusiast and her two Kiwi mates didn't stick to the script and had to be rescued off the slopes of Mount Doom after setting out ill equipped and too late in the day.
Six search and rescue teams were sent up Mt Ngauruhoe after the alarm was raised at a cost of $10,000.
Ryan Hattle, Sam MacDonald and Violet Onderwater met on couchsurfing.com, a website where people offer up their couches to travellers for free.
On Saturday the team set off on their quest.
“We left Pukekohe about 7.30 in the am, drove all the way here, climbing at about 1pm – it looked pretty sunny,” says Mr Hattle.
Dressed in light clothing, they reached the summit at 5.30pm, but then Ms Onderwater strained her ankle.
Unlike Lord of the Rings, Sam had a cellphone. He descended the mountain, calling Ruapehu Alpine Rescue.
A helicopter was flown in, the rescue team reaching the Lord of the Rings fan at midnight
Police estimate the rescue cost taxpayers around $10,000.
“It was windy and raining - so cold and everyone else had to be there. I feel bad they had to come out,” says Mr Macdonald.
While the trio regret what happened, they say the Dutch tourist was pleased the scenery lived up to expectations.
“The rocks, landscape look exactly the same. Cool to see right out of the clouds to the horizon,” says Mr Hattle.
The friends are meeting up again overseas shortly, saying they won't be recreating any more Mt Doom moments.