What a glorious day to climb Mt. Sunday a.k.a Edoras! Day 12 was sunny with minimal cloud. There was minimal wind. And as we left Christchurch, we were joined by Gandalf-Derek, and his wife Margaret. That was such a surprise when the bus stopped and just on the side of the road was Gandalf. It was even better when on to our bus came Gandalf with his staff and glowing crystal. After Gandalf loaded up his supplies, we continued on our way to Mt. Sunday. Derek was actually an extra on the Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers. I am going to have to re-watch the movies when I get home. He had some great stories for us and he could tell us where we were all standing in relation to the Edoras scenes. At one point, we stopped at the top of the hill and in the distance you could see Mt. Sunday in the valley below and as Derek read the description of Edoras in the book, it was like J. R. R. Tolkien was standing on that same hill where we stood and was describing Mt. Sunday. It was truly amazing. I have to add this to one of my highlights of this tour. The climb up Mt. Sunday wasn’t too bad. But with the sun beating down on us and no shade, I was very thankful to have put on sunblock and to have long sleeves and long pants on. I am determined to remain sunburn free while I am experiencing the NZ summer.
After having our picnic lunch at the top of Mt. Sunday, we had to return Gandalf-Derek to where we first picked him up. We also lost two of our Fellowship here as well. Unfortunately, someone had to return to school so they could not stay any longer. After saying our goodbyes we continued on our way to Lake Tekapo where we stopped for some photos. I haven’t seen a lake this blue since Lake Louise. And even then, it’s different. This lake was so big. And strangely enough, it was the cloud formations that caught my attention. Dropping into the Church of the Good Shepherd, I could see why it was so popular. It’s located right on the lake shore and the view from inside is just perfect.
After our photo stop, we went on to Lake Pukaki for another photo stop. I’m so glad we stopped here, especially since I discovered that the cottage that I booked is actually along the shore of Lake Pukaki and not Lake Tekapo, even though the address said Lake Tekapo. After worrying about it for a little bit, I decided that I’m going to stick with this location since:
- It’s too late to find another place to stay. It is Chinese New Year that weekend and everything in that area is fully booked.
- It’s closer to some of the locations that I did want to see, such as Mt. Cook Village and the Clay Cliffs. The only thing I won’t be able to do is the night time viewing at the Observatory, and that’s only because I don’t want to be driving at night.
- Lake Pukaki with Mt. Cook off in the distance looks so impressive and I think waking up in the morning to see it would be so cool!
Wayne was kind enough to point out which road I should take to get to my little cottage on the lake. And then later that night in Twizel, after dinner we met up with Sheryl, who sells elven cloaks and her partner was telling me about the place I would be staying at and the road I would be driving, so I feel better about staying there now. But I must say that is very irritating to say it is at Lake Tekapo, when it is SOOOO NOT! But then I guess it’s my fault as well since I could’ve Google Mapped it. Grrrrr! Oh Well Live and Learn! Anyway, the cloaks she makes are fabulous. If you are ever in need of a cloak, you might want to look her up. She also made other outfits that would’ve been perfect Lord of the Rings type clothes i.e. hobbit style clothing. Quite impressive.
On Day 12 we were off to the Pelennor Fields where King Theodon led the charge against the Orcs in the third movie. This location is on private property so we were lucky that Julie had connections. We were met by Priscilla who was also an extra in the movie. She was and Orc. And she also had great stories. One of the other great things about Red Carpet Tours is that you get to meet the people who were actually there and involved with the filming and even if it was just being an extra, the stories they pass on are still just as exciting. Granted, if I were to bump into Viggo or Richard Armitage, it might be just a little bit more exciting, but still, to meet people who were in the movies was still a treat! Well, once in the Pelennor fields, we had a little bit of fun with our new elven cloaks and props. Nothing like a little bit of cosplay to start the day! It was really fun! And it was like the landscape was welcoming us because a rainbow came over the hill that we were headed to: Theodon’s rise, where he gave his rousing speech just before the charge!
After the Pelennor fields, we were off to see our next sight. But first we had to get there. We travelled through the Lindis Pass to get to Alexandra, our lunch stop. Here we met up with our Queenstown guides, Sue and Ben and we also had to switch busses, since the road to Poolburn was not the best for a bus this size. Once in Poolburn, it was like a different world. We met up with Sue Falconer who owns the land where these next scenes were filmed. We were back in The Two Towers, where Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli are chasing the orcs that have taken Merry and Pippin. What an amazing landscape. After some more fun in our cloaks, we went onwards to where Eomer and his soldiers surrounded our man, elf and dwarf. After some more amazing acting, we went to the “Burning Rohan” village site. Again, another amazing location and not just because it was in the movies.
Day 13 was an optional activities day. I chose to go to the Routeburn Track. Two other fellowship members joined me. Sue and Ben were our guides. The others decided to go horseback riding in the same area as us. It took about an hour to get to the start of the Routeburn track. On the way, we made a few stops at certain lookout points. One view in particular was very familiar, the mountains made it as the backdrop in the Gardens of Isengard. And then we also saw more mountains where ‘beacons’ were lit. It was so familiar and then when Sue and Ben confirmed it, it was cool and familiar. We also wen to the site where Frodo and Sam saw the Olaphonts! I tried to see the olaphonts, My imagination was in slow-motion though. I have rediscovered my allergies. Yuck. And it’s more terrible because the non-drowsy medication doesn’t feel as strong as the stuff I take back in Vancouver. I guess I’ll just have to suffer through it.
Well after seeing my olaphonts, we were off to the Routeburn track. We had a coffee stop in Glenorchy and then we were off again. Sue and Ben are very knowledgable about plants and geological formations such as glaciers stuff. I was there to see the awesomeness of nature. Sadly my interest in plants is very limited, unless there is a LOTR connection i.e. Gandalf’s staff was made of Lancewood, and we saw lots of Lancewood trees in the forest. After walking along the track for just under an hour, we reached the base of Bridal Veil Falls and then turned back. We left the Routeburn track and headed over to nearby Lake Sylvan for our picnic lunch. Then we walked the track towards Lake Sylvan and the difference between this track and the Routeburn track was quite dramatic. Routeburn was very lush with ferns and moss and lichen and thick with trees, where as Lake Sylavn was quite opposite. After our hike, Sue, Ben and I went onwards to Arrowtown. The other two decided to return to the hotel. However I needed to go for a little retail therapy. I think I will return to Arrowtown just so I can soak in the quaintness of it. That and I have time to kill before I go to Te Anau for my kayaking trip.
I will have to update this post with pictures from my Routeburn track and more from Pelennor Fields and the Rohan scenes later. I’ll let you know the next time I get good internet connection.
Wish you were all here, Luv Aunty!