On SH6 between Blenheim and Nelson is the Pelorus Bridge. The Pelorus Scenic Reserve is home to a flat river forest consisting mainly of Beech, Kahikatia and Rimu trees. Take a gander at the river from the bridge and then descend to it’s banks using the path at the side of the bridge. Here you will be hovering where the nasty Orcs were trying to stop the Dwarves from escaping in barrels down the river. Scenes on the river were also filmed here from temporary scaffolding erected carefully around the river to accommodate crew and cameras. There is also a campsite so if you feel like airing out your sleeping mat you can do so for a minimal fee.
If you love driving you might enjoy the roadie to Collingwood from Nelson. It’s about two hours to Collingwood then, about half an hour from Collingwood towards the Heaphy track, is Salisbury Falls. Park on the side of the road near the bridge, pull out your bathers and take the short walk to the waterfall and slip into the cool and silky water of the Aorere River. There are a few swimming holes around here and when you are ready for your dose of Middle-earth it shouldn’t be too hard to conjure up the image of Tauriel and Legolas having their pointy eared chat before they head to Lake-town in The Desolation of Smaug.
Located in the middle of the South Island, in Southern Alps country is the Mt Potts range. It really is in the middle of nowhere so if too much nature or driving along rustic one way and unpaved roads doesn’t excite you, you may want to stay in Christchurch and have a cup of tea and a lie down. It’s about 90 mins from Christchurch to Mt. Somers and from here you take the slow drive (about an hour) along the Ashburton Gorge Road through the Hakatere Conservation Park to Mt Potts. A 4WD is recommended for a more comfortable ride but your regular rental will work too. At Mt Potts there is a lodge, offering accommodation on a working high country station - the perfect place for second breakfast or a cup of tea.
A short drive from the lodge is Mt Sunday. As you descend down into the Rangitata valley Mt Sunday is straight ahead in the distance. It is a rôche moutonnée (rock formation created by the passing of a glacier) and was also the dramatic location for the massive Edoras set. The art department took around nine months to build the fortress city set on top of Mt Sunday. The exterior sets were extensive and included The Golden Hall, gatehouse and farmyards with livestock.
You can’t drive up to the location and so if you are feeling a little lazy you can just stop near the entrance to Mt Potts station and take your fan pic from beside the car. For the more adventurous, you can leave your car on the side of the road, grab your Rohirrim walking stick and take the trail up the hill. There you can sit and ponder the fate of Middle-earth as Eowyn did in the film here.
Banner Photo Credit: Department Of Conservation