16 December 2017

NZ Travel Diary: Exploring Edoras, Rohan

"Why did you choose to visit New Zealand?" - Truly, it was our love for films that brought us here. Lord of the Rings continues to inspire us to this day, not only through it's characters but also the world it portrays: a world of magic and adventure, waiting to be explored.

These pictures will always have a special place in my heart: they were taken on Mount Sunday, the location used to depict Edoras in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Edoras is the capital of Rohan, home to the shield-maiden Eowyn, the iconic heroine who takes 1st place in our list of inspirational female characters.

I did initially write a very well structured text to accompany this post, but honestly it just wasn't cutting it. I need to express HOW MUCH I LOVED THIS DAY, and speaking in a more eloquent manner just didn't reflect my love for it. So I scrapped the original post and I'm now typing anew, my heart bursting once more with excitement now that the realisation that I ACTUALLY MANAGED TO DO THIS has sunk in.

I won't lie, this tour was the main reason we wanted to visit New Zealand.
It was the one place we have always wanted to visit, the one place which seemed impossibly far away, unreachable, always to be admired through film but never through our own eyes. I practically leaped out of the Hassle Free Tour van when we arrived. & when our guide presented the sword photo props, I was one of the first to jump forward and snatch one up.
This was not the moment to stand quietly in the background. This was the moment to fully embrace my inner Lord of the Rings geek and I did not hold back. This moment was a long time coming and I paid a whole lot of money to get here!

I can still remember the other visitors who were with us, and how they hesitated slightly when the guide presented the swords. Summer & I just didn't care. We couldn't have been more excited, and I think that is something that surprises people, they don't expect us to be so geeky.

When I was armed with my sword (Sting), I felt myself float ever so slightly as I began the climb up to the hill to where the Golden Hall stood. Only once I reached the top and I was having my most important photo ever taken (now with King Theoden's sword) did I realise just where I was. I felt my eyes sting and my bottom lip begin to tremble as I mounted the large rock and thrust the sword up into the air, standing where Eowyn stood. I won't ever forget that moment. The feeling of having accomplished something I had always wanted. I still remember the feel of my hair in the light wind against my face.

This moment was a closing of a chapter in our lives: make fun of it if you will (I couldn't care less because noone will dampen my spirit after this). But we had always wanted to stand here, and we managed to make that happen. Now we can move on from that dream and work towards whatever comes next, with the hopes of creating something that inspires someone as much as Eowyn inspires us.

Mount Sunday looks deceptively small from afar: it is a small hill located in the middle of a gigantic valley. Surrounded by towering mountains, it is utterly hidden from the world. The road to it didn't exist before the filming of the trilogy: it was built by the Army for the production. The thought that something so beautiful was kept unseen for so long, known only as farmland, is a comforting one. What other wondrous places exist in the world, far away from human-kind? It is proof that there is so much yet to discover, and appreciate. So many places which are yet to be tied with human creation: a link between art and nature which has the ability to inspire the human mind, and potentially lead to the birth of even more wonderful stories.

As we did for our previous post about a LOTR location tour (see here), we have added some film stills so you are able to compare the pictures and understand what each location represents.

We booked the 8.5 hour Edoras Tour through Hassle Free Tours (see website here) - it was a very long journey there, and most of the time was spent in the vehicle driving towards the location. We departed Christchurch at around 9am (you get picked up from your hotel/hostel) and we only arrived at Mount Sunday at 1-1:30pm. You do watch several BTS videos on your journey there and back, which were all really interesting. They give you an inside view into the making of Edoras, with commentary from the cast and crew. Although it was a long way, the views were stunning, so you didn't have time to get bored.

All of the passengers were big Lord of the Rings fans, all as excited as we were, which made the trip even more fun. There was such a positive energy the entire time. They let their true passionate selves shine through once we arrived at the top, holding up the swords to the sky with massive grins stretched across their faces.

Our guide was super friendly - he was upbeat and gave us loads of Lord of the Rings related gossip. He was also able to tell us what was where when we had reached the top of Mount Sunday: which angles were used, nearby filming locations (ex. Helm's Deep was filmed in the same valley which we were able to see during the tour: see below, on the left hand side of the image!) and much more. He even told us stories that even my geeky self didn't know about it, which made the trip even more interesting and enjoyable.

I think we were up there for 30 minutes or so, and Summer & were the first and last people to take pictures. We were so lucky to have such great weather: the entire valley was visible, the mountain peaks and even the silver river. I won't forget just how quiet it was: there was nothing there. The silence was so peaceful,

I remember when we were driving out of the valley back towards real-life, watching Edoras disappear into the distance and wondering if I'll ever be able to see it with my own eyes again. Such a weird feeling, finally being able to admire something you have always wanted to see, only to head back home afterwards. We arrived back in Christchurch around 7.30-8pm, feeling elated and utterly overwhelmed. We did it!

I would highly recommend this tour if you're in New Zealand and want to explore some of the Lord of the Rings locations. If you do have a car you can drive yourself, but it is a long way. You've got to think about what the tour allows you to experience. You have inside LOTR gossip and get to play around with the props, so you've got to think about that (Lunch is also provided!). It was absolutely worth the money, and we even got a discount thanks to our Kiwi Experience Bus Pass - post about that coming soon!

I hope you enjoyed reading this post, if you made it through to the end thankyou, thankyou for listening to me express my love for Lord of the Rings and the art form in general.

Holly x

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