The Road to Edoras

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!

View more photos on my web page: photography.asni.net ** prints availlable on Artflakes ** or on  DeviantArt

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A Day in The Shire

Back in 2007, I had the opportunity to spend a whole day on the Hobbiton movie set near Matamata. I’d taken the tour the previous day, with my mother, who was over on a visit. I’d done the tour before, but it is worth doing a second time!

At the time, I was working on developing my drawing skills, and took every opportunity I could to make sketches of New Zealand landscape. Of course it tickled me mightily to try and do a sketch of The Real Bag End! So I’d  taken my sketch pad, and while the rest of the tour was busy clambering about, I found myself a quiet spot and sketched away.

In the short time, I wasn’t able to produce anything I was happy with (I have gotten much faster since!) – so on the way back, I gathered my courage and asked the friendly lady who had taken the tour, if it might be possible to get permission to spend a bit more time on the set in order to do a sketch? She spotted the owner of the farm (and the tour business) on the road, jumped out the bus and asked him.

So the next morning (after I’d stocked up on a set of new pencils) – they took me in with the first tour, and let me stay, largely unsupervised, until the end of the last tour. Plenty of time to do a pretty decent sketch, AND wander about with my photo camera to take  as many shots of Bag End and surroundings, as my heart delighted in: in the sun, in the rain, with the shadows getting longer toward evening … I even unobtrusively strolled off, between tours, to the bits where they don’t take the visitors – the location where Frodo’s first meeting with Gandalf was shot. Which satisfied my curiosity — but there really wasn’t anything much worth shooting there, I can assure you! 🙂

The set has since been renovated, to serve again for the upcoming film version of “The Hobbit”. Unfortunately, that also means they can’t be so generous about having people take photos any more: from what I’ve heard, visitors who do the tour now must sign a non-disclosure agreement. The good news is, apparently the plan is now to leave the set in it’s movie-ready state: at the time the “Lord of the Rings” movies were shot, no one could predict what a major tourist attraction it was going to be, and the plan had been to demolish the set after filming. It’s only thanks to some rains setting in early, that it is still there at all! (well —— at least, that’s the official version) 😉

View more photos on my web page: photography.asni.net ** prints availlable on Artflakes ** or on  DeviantArt