16 December 2017

NZ Travel Diary: Exploring Edoras, Rohan

It was our love for films that brought us to New Zealand. Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy sparked our interest in Cinema and inspired us to study Film & Theatre at University. It has played quite an important role in our lives!

These pictures will always have a special place in my heart. Mount Sunday was the location used to depict Edoras in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It is the capital of Rohan and home to the shield-maiden Eowyn, who is one our top inspirational female characters.

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 there!
I can still remember the other visitors who were with us and how they hesitated slightly when the guide presented the swords. Summer and 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.

I felt as though I was floating when we had reached the summit, the place the Golden Hall once stood. My eyes were stinging and my bottom lip was nearly trembling when I mounted the large rock and thrust King Theoden's sword up into the air. I won't ever forget that moment and the odd feeling of having accomplished a lifelong goal. There was a light breeze when I was having the picture taken and I could feel my hair brushing against my face. It's funny how we remember small details in moments like that.

I would describe this day as 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 as it was built by the Army for the production. The thought that something so beautiful was kept unseen for so long and known only as farmland is a comforting one I think. What other wondrous places exist in the world, hidden 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 how each location was used in the films.

We booked the 8.5 hour Edoras Tour through Hassle Free Tours (see website here). It was a very long journey and most of the time was spent in the vehicle driving towards the location. We departed Christchurch at around 9am (we were picked up from our hotel/hostel) and we only arrived at Mount Sunday at 1-1:30pm. We watched several BTS videos on our journey there and back which were all very interesting. They gave us 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 we didn't really have the time to get bored.

All of the passengers were big Lord of the Rings fans and they were 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 geeky selves shine through once we had all arrived at the top of the hill. Picture a small group of people holding swords with giant smiles 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 - see below on the left hand side of the image!) and more. He told us stories that even my geeky self didn't know about.

I think we were up there for 30 minutes or so and Summer and I were the first and last people to take pictures. We were so lucky to have great weather, the entire valley was visible and we had such a clear view of the mountain peaks and the silver river. I'll never forget just how quiet it was, there was nothing there. It was so peaceful!

I remember watching Edoras disappear into the distance when we left and wondering if I'll ever be able to see it with my own eyes again. It was 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 to any Middle-Earth fans. If you do have a car you can drive there yourself but it is a long way. You've got to think about what the tour allows you to experience. It was absolutely worth the money and we even got a discount thanks to our Kiwi Experience Bus Pass.

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 for the art form in general.

Holly x


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