New Zealand :: Visiting Edoras
Hike Mt. Sunday in the morning for fewer crowds.
Make sure you have good shoes to hike through streams.
Build in enough time to get lost in the landscape...you will never want to leave.
If you saw my previous blog post about the Routeburn Track, then you already know I am a Lord of the Rings fanatic, so there should be no surprise that we spent hours driving through the interior of the South Island to spend the day in Edoras (or in real world terms Mount Sunday). This had been a dream of mine ever since I saw the movies back in High School, there is something so wonderful about Rohan and Edoras in the books and they brought that wonderment to life when Peter Jackson filmed the scenes at Mount Sunday...everything about it is Middle Earth.
We drove to Mount Sunday with the rain following us from Mount Cook National Park. On the way, we stopped in Geraldine, a lovely rural town, for some lunch. We happened upon the Geraldine Orchard Farm Shop and Cafe which couldn't have been better as they had delicious curry pies for me and Gluten Free pies for Cory! Not to mention everyone was unbelievably friendly.
After several hours of driving, we finally reached the DOC conservation land where the dirt road starts towards Mount Sunday. We slowly made our way towards Mount Potts Lodge, dodging potholes made by the heavy rain and stopping for some birdwatching. Unfortunately due to the rain we were only able to make out a slight outline of Edoras...crossing our fingers that it would clear up by morning.
"Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines It will shine out the clearer." -J.R.R. Tolkien
Even though we had had a miserable night before camping in thunderstorms (and sleeping in the car) we decided to risk it again at Mount Potts Lodge and camp in our tent (save money whenever possible). We regretted this decision however as it thunderstormed all night long and we slept in the car instead of the tent...to you know, not become a human torch. We woke up in the morning and it was still raining, preventing us from seeing much at all in the distance. As we ate breakfast it slowly started to clear, enough for us to see Edoras. We put on all our rain gear...Gore-Tex boots, rain pants, rain jacket...and started our way up the hill.
The wind was ridiculous (that was not an added effect in the movies) and it was quite cold, but I was beaming the entire time. We weaved in and out of massive puddles, over bridges, and through herds of sheep and up the steep hill where Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli ride to meet Theoden at the Golden Hall. Now I had looked up countless photos online before going, but after climbing to the top of Edoras, there are no words to describe the feeling of being surrounded by Middle Earth (or for non-Lord of the Rings fans, just plain beauty). From the mountaintop it is a 360 degree view of a world you couldn't imagine existing. In one direction is steep snow-capped mountains that have to be Helm's Deep. Another, is a huge waterfall pouring down to the stream below. Opposite that is a valley with braided rivers adding a gentle feel to an extreme landscape. And finally, bushy grassy plains giving it all a bright pop of color. We stayed on the mountaintop for a while, and had this amazing Middle Earth to ourselves. After about an hour or two, we begrudgingly climbed down the hill to continue on our way to Kaikoura....to swim with dolphins...Can't get much better!
"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." -Gandalf