Mount Somers, New Zealand (Aotearoa)
43° 43' S 171° 23' E
Apr 29, 2005 11:08
Distance 102km

Text written in: English


For Lord of the Rings fans like us, Edoras has got to be one of the top one or two locations from the movie. I still remember first seeing the trailer for The Two Towers: a helicopter shot sweeping past the Great Hall perched on top of a rocky hill with snow-capped mountains in the background. Our trip to Edoras felt like a pilgrimage to a sacred spot.

Also in the van with us were Graham and David, a couple of guys from Kent in England who were on a three-week holiday to Singapore, NZ, and Brisbane, Australia.

From Christchurch, we drove through the exurb of Darfield and then on the inland scenic route over the Rakia River through Homebush and finally to Mt. Somers. Here John picks up the mail for Mt. Potts Station, a giant sheep and cattle ranch which includes Mt. Sunday / Edoras. This gesture saves the family that runs Mt. Potts the hour and a half round trip and helps to maintain good relations between the tour company and the landowner.

Leaving Mt. Somers, the road changed to gravel (an "unsealed" or "metal" road in NZ parlance). From here it was another 20 minutes to Clearwater, a no-services settlement of holiday cabins or "baches" on the shores of a small lake. Then we enterd Mt. Potts Station and Mt. Sunday / Edoras came into view.

The construction of the Edoras set on Mount Sunday took 11 months. Actual filming took eight days, in September of 2000. And then demolition of the set and restoration of the Mt. Sunday site to its previous condition took another three months. John passed around a book of photos, taken illicitly, of the Edoras set during construction.

At the Mt. Potts Backcountry Ski Lodge we changed from our Mitsubishi minivan to a Toyota Land Cruiser for the final drive to Mt. Sunday. We forded several small spring-fed streams and parked at the foot of Mt. Sunday. As John remarked, "Mount" is a bit of an exaggeration for this outcropping of rock. Its "summit" is no more than 30 or 40 meters above the surrounding valley. So it's no big deal to walk up to the top.

Boy was it windy! I would say that I have never experienced such a strong wind. It was difficult to stand at times. We spent about a half an hour just wandering around, stepping in cattle and sheep manure, leaning into the wind, and taking lots of photos. John pulled the flag of Rohan out of his pocket and attempted to fly it in the wind but the gale was so strong that it just blew in his face, which irritated him. Also I think he was a bit embarrassed by all this nerdy Lord of the Rings devotion.

We climbed back into the Land Cruiser and jounced back to the lodge for our lunch, where we discussed the similarities and differences of the US and UK political scenes with Graham and David. After a quick stop to try to fly the flag of Rohan again, we headed back to Mt. Somers and home to Christchurch.

Back in town we had a good meal of Indian food at a place called Tolsi and then we went back to Foley Towers for the night.

Photos / videos of "Edoras":

One of the photos taken during the construction of the Edoras set on Mt. Sunday. We've just left Mt. Somers, the nearest town to Edoras. Lake Clearwater. Edoras is the little brown smudge in the center of the photograph, between the water and the mountain range in the distance. Some of the holiday cabins or "baches" in Lake Clearwater. Many of the crew lived here during set construction. The principal cast members were flown in every day from Christchurch. Getting closer now. Edoras is again in the center of the frame. Mt. Potts Backcountry Ski Lodge, where we switched to a Toyota Land Cruiser. Our stream-fordin' Land Cruiser. Edoras from the side. Fording a stream in the Land Cruiser as we swing around to the gently-sloping "back side" of Edoras. On foot now, we retrace the steps of Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli as they entered Edoras. On top in a gale. The white-haired guy is John, the driver and not really a LOTR fan. The white object is some sort of antenna for a positioning system; I'm not really sure. First of a four-part panorama from Edoras, from left to right. Panorama #2 Panorama #3 Panorama #4 Grafitti on the positioning antenna on the top of Edoras. Heading back to the Land Cruiser. Here are the houses for the family that lives at Mt Potts Sheep Station, with Edoras barely visible behind the trees. Not a bad place to grow up. Rohirrim! There you go, John. Just wad that Rohan flag up and put it back in your pocket, thanks. One last look before we head home. Goodbye, Eowyn. Goodbye, King Theodin. Goodbye, Edoras.