Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2010 book says (pg35) “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, and last time we checked the land of Maori and hobbits certainly didn’t need repairing. Once again New Zealand has been put in the top ten countries which you ‘ought to put on your agenda in 2010”
Having Middle-earth right on my doorstep, it seemed I too needed to drop in on the land of the hobbits and check out the Lord of the Rings Edoras Tour (www.hasslefree.co.nz) to see what all the fuss is about.
And here, I have to confess: until this trip I was a LotR virgin! True. As shocking as that may seem to some, I have not read the books nor seen the movies – it was almost a shameful secret – but now I know a little and I’m willing to share it with you. And, it seems these tours deep into Middle-earth are becoming more and more popular as time goes by.
The tour starts in Christchurch, and shortly after I was picked up in Cathedral Square, Rex, the driver and guide for the day, pointed out the school attended by the teenage murderers depicted in Heavenly Creatures
NZ has a great tradition of great movie making – The American Film Institute has called the New Zealand film industry “one of the wonders of the world… an unparalleled success story” see more here
It was appropriate to point out the school and site for some of the shots used in the movie as that too was one of Peter Jacksons great pictures and Kate Winslet started her career in Heavenly Creatures:
As we drove out we watch a DVD about ‘the quest for the ring’ which gave someone like me a background to the day and the film. I also learnt Tolkien was born in South Africa ( to English parents) and that, as well as having to create a road to get to ‘Edoras’ and the ‘rocky outcrop beside silver streams’ that Tolkien described in his books, Rex also tells us “the village took months to build, they were there filming for 3 weeks, then it was dismantled.”
So on we drove, past trout-filled lakes, through little country villages, over the Canterbury plains and glacial-formed braided rivers, passed tussock covered hills until we emerged in the ‘secret valley’; home of Mt. Sunday, 95 metres (over 600ft) above sea-level and which was transformed into Edoras, capital city of the Rohan people for the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
As dramatic music soars in the vehicle we are welcomed: “Welcome to the Kingdom of Rohan in Middle earth” – our guide makes it a momentous occasion. read the rest of the article here
Note: Hassle-Free Tours (www.hasslefree.co.nz ) also run Christchurch city tours, and an Alpine Safari which includes a jet boat, 4×4 vehicles and the TranzAlpine train so check their website for up-to-date information.
by the kiwitravelwriter, Heather Hapeta