New Zealand Day Three. Another Walk In Christchurch And An Unexpected Adventure In Edoras

New Zealand Day Three. Another Walk In Christchurch And An Unexpected Adventure In Edoras

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I didn’t sleep well my first night on Te Wai Pounamu,  the Maori name for New Zealand’s South Island. It  means the “waters of greenstone”,  the name which the Maori gave to the  jade  they gathered on the island. My sinuses made it difficult to breathe . However my lack of sleep didn’t keep me from rising early in anticipation for  my day trip to Edoras, the  city in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.  I have been a fan of Tolkien and his works since high school. I read the books and watched the movies dozens of times. I was excited to venture to the location where some of the spectacular scenes from the movie were in morning

I awoke after a few hours of sleep at  6 a.m . The tour which  I booked was scheduled to  pick me up at my hotel at 9 a.m. I had a few hours to continue my exploration of Christchurch and I took advantage of it.

I left my hotel in the morning twilight and walked toward the Avon River. I  decided to follow it as it flowed through the city.  I first walked by some of the newly constructed buildings of the city.

And some of the interesting statues and art work in the parks and open spaces.

I approached the Avon River  and found it was surrounded by parks and trees as it made it was through the city.

As in almost all the cities I have visited on my travels around the world, I found the parks to be filled with early morning walkers, joggers and nature lovers enjoying the morning quiet.

I walked through both old and new neighborhoods and made my way to an old cemetery not far from the river. I love to visit cemeteries on my travels. I read the names, dates of birth and death, and any remarks on the gravestone and reflect on the lives of the departed.  How short life is I often think. These reflections have become much more personal after the tragic losses in my life this past year.

I had walked out about 1 1/2 miles when I realized, if I were to eat breakfast I had better return to my hotel.  I got back, had a delicious, quick, breakfast , and some pleasant conservation, with fellow guests. I was soon waiting for my ride to Edoras. Here is a link to some more photographs from my morning hike. New Zealand Day Three Christchurch morning walk February 8 2019.

I had  booked my trip to  Edoras  when I arrived at the Christchurch airport. It was a nine-hour tour with Hassle-free tours.  The 4 wheel drive vehicle arrived at my hotel shortly after 9 a.m.  and I joined about a dozen other folks for a 2 1/2 hour drive  to  Rangitata River Valley near New Zealand’s Southern Alps.

We made our way through the streets of Christchurch in morning traffic.  I enjoyed the drive and the changing landscapes from urban, to suburban to rural.  We soon entered busy Highway One, the north south highway that runs the entire length of New Zealand’s North and South Islands. 

After about a 45 minute ride we made a short stop at the Salmon Tales Cafe near the town of Rakia near the river after which it is named. The area is famous for its salmon fishing as evidenced by this famous landmark.

We continued our journey and soon left busy Highway One. We traveled rural roads along cattle and sheep farms as we headed to the foothills of the Southern Alps. Our guide Steven provided us with information about the history, geography and  culture of the area. We learned about both the original Maori natives and the English settlers who lived in this region.

We entered the isolated regions of the upper Rangitata River Valley and stopped near  deep blue Lake Clearwater. This isolated lake has a  small community of summer residents who live in quaint little cabins.  I would love to spend a week camping out here.

The roads were now made of gravel and stone and we understood why we needed a four-wheel drive vehicle for our tour. Before approaching Edoras we stopped at the isolated Mt. Potts Lodge. The lodge was closed but  we enjoyed some sandwiches and drinks provided by our tour guide Here is a link to some more photographs from my drive to Edoras. New Zealand Day Three: Drive to Edoras  February 8 2019.

We resumed our journey and, as we neared Mount Sunday, the site of the Edoras scenes in the movies we learned more about the choice of this location.

In the Lord of the Rings Edoras is the capital of the Kingdom of Rohan. It is a fortress set on a hill in a valley and on it was built the hall of King Theoden. Upon first seeing Mount Sunday, it  was apparent why the location was chosen.  The scenery of the Southern Alps was spectacular. And as we approached “Edoras” we learned that, although it was dwarfed by the huge summits of the Southern Alps it was in itself an impressive hill.

We learned more about the filming, the construction of the fortress and the logistics of producing such large and spectacular scenes in this remote area. We were able to approach the hill through a locked gate. We crossed a swift mountain stream and made our way up winding and rugged roads almost to the summit.

We still had to climb the last couple of hundred feet and we were rewarded with incredible views from atop the mountain.

We had brought up swords, axes and flags that were used as props in the movie and we indulged in posing for photographs from the summit.

I recalled the scenes from the books and movies atop the windy summit. I wish we had more time but we soon had to return to our vehicle for our return.  We had an adventure of our own as we drove back over the rugged terrain . A spring on our  4 wheel drive broke. We had to leave the vehicle and our guide had to drive it out of the rugged back roads.

Our group had to walk through briars  and tussock and use a cable bridge to cross  the swift stream we drove over on the way in .

We  met our guide on the gravel road and were driven to the Mt. Potts lodge where we had to wait for two hours for a bus to return us to Christchurch.

I enjoyed the peace and quiet of the isolated lodge and sat under a tree and watched the mountains.  Our bus arrived around 5 p.m and I didn’t get back to my hotel in Christchurch until almost 8 p.m.

It was a great day exploring the South Island but it was a long day. I was exhausted but had to eat. I stopped in the unique Astro Cafe near my hotel where I  enjoyed a quick meal and some interesting conversation.

I was soon in my room hoping to fall asleep. I  had another busy day planned and it started at 8:30 with my first ride on a public bus to Lake Tekapo. Here is a link to some more photographs from my visit to Edoras. New Zealand Day Three: Christchurch and Edoras February 8 2019.  

“Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate
And though I oft have passed them by
A day will come at last when I
Shall take the hidden paths that run
West of the Moon, East of the Sun.” 
― J.R.R. Tolkien

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