The location where the film set for “Edoras” was built – which features in “The Two Towers” and “The Return of the King” – is a remote river valley in Central Canterbury, c 3 hour drive from Christchurch, 45 minutes of unsealed road inland from Mt Somers, near Methven.
It is an impressive drive through highland pastures framed by the outer ranges of the Southern Alps, and one can well imagine being in Rohan. The road roughly follows the course of the Rangitata River, and delves down into the river valley a short ride past Lake Clearwater, where there is a settlement of summer houses (usually deserted, except in the holiday season around Christmas), and a campsite with *very* basic facilities.
Coming down into the valley, it is easy to spot the elevation where the “Edoras” set was built, and which seems to go by the name “Mt Sunday”. It is a smallish rocky hillock, rising from between the meandering arms of the Rangitata river, which flows through a wide open pebbly flat at this place, and is framed by high mountain ranges on all sides.
I have visited the location on three occasions: when I first arrived in New Zealand in 2003, in autumn 2007, and again in early summer 2008, as part of a three and a half week tour of the South Island.
On that last occasion, I drove my car over a piece of scrap metal which wrecked my tyre, on the way out. For some strange reason, in all my many years of driving, I had never had to change a tyre, so here was an opportunity to learn that skill quick – as it was verging toward evening, and there was little chance that anyone would still come by, on this little frequented road, so late in the day! Consequently, I arrived at the location a good hour later than I had planned, and just managed to find myself a sheltered spot to pull up the car, for an improvised campsite. I was rewarded with a very Tolkienesque experience of camping under a sky of blazing stars, and fetching my water from the spring rain-filled little brook that was gushing past my camp.
The sunrise photos were taken on my second visit in 2007. I am not usually a morning person (*at all*), but if there is one thing that can lure me out of bed in the early morning hours, it’s the prospect of shooting morning moods in an out-of-the-world gorgeous location like this one. For some reason, I’ve never found it very hard to get up early for that purpose!