Today was another marvelous day in New Zealand. Thanks to the generosity and kindness of friends, I had an opportunity to realize a dream: I saw and stood near the actual landscape setting for “Edoras” in the film trilogy “The Lord of the Rings.” Mount Sunday is located near Mt Potts Sheep Station in the Rangitata Valley of New Zealand’s south island. It is surrounded by mountains in a broad river valley which must be between two and three kilometers across. The weather was rainy down on the Canterbury plains, but thankfully there were some breaks once we got up nearer to the mountains. The mountain peaks were still obscured, but we were able to see Mt Sunday as well as the broader Rangitata Valley. It was amazing to see this spectacular valley in person.
We drove up a highway which eventually become an unimproved (gravel) mountain road and took us to Mt Potts Sheep Station near Mt Sunday. Before hiking closer to the site of Edoras, we drove further up the road to Erewhon Sheep station. Erewhon was named by Samuel Butler, who published a book titled “Erewhon” anonymously in 1872. According to our guide today, Butler was the first white man to settle at the sheep station in the Rangitata Valley now known as “Mesopotamia,” and gave the sheep station “Erewhon” further up the valley its name.
Erewhon sheep station is just about a two hour drive from Geraldine, but it is EXCEPTIONALLY remote! The geography here is absolutely stunning. I wish we could have had clearer views of the continental divide and surrounding mountains today, but given that it COULD have been much worse with more rain I’m delighted we were able to see everything we did. Our guide drives further up the actual river bed above Erewhon in his four wheel drive with friends and then hikes from there to the continental divide. THAT is some amazing off road driving!
I posted about 130 photos of this area to a Flickr set I titled “Edoras and Erewhon,” along with about 80 photos in and around Geraldine. Although the cattle industry is booming here now, there are still a LOT of sheep in New Zealand!
This is a photo of cattle with Mt Sunday (Edoras) in the background. This wasn’t a scene you saw in “The Lord of the Rings!” 🙂
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