New Zealand - Chapter Three
Trip Start Dec 19, 2008
22Trip End Jul 04, 2009
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Sunday morning we got up, checked out of our room at Stonehurst, stored our luggage in the bag room, and were waiting on the curb for our pick up at 9am. A few minutes later our swanky 4-wheel-drive Lord of the Rings Edoras Tour truck rolled up in front of the hostel, and we were on our way to Edoras, the capital city of Rohan (otherwise know as Mt. Sunday in the Canterbury region of the South Island of New Zealand.) Since I am a geek and love Lord of the Rings, this day was the highlight of the trip for me, no questions asked.
After a few hours of driving we stopped in a small town (I think it was Mt. Sommers) at a cafe to pick up our lunch and stretch our legs before we continued on the next leg of the journey. The cafe was tiny, and aside from an abandoned looking town hall, there wasn't anything else around. It actually reminded me a bit of being up north, except it was greener. But we hopped back in the truck and kept on driving, watching extras from the LoTR movies as we went.
Finally by the end of the morning we were got our first glimpse of Mt. Sunday and the breathtaking scenery of the valley. We stopped at a station where the company based the Edoras tours from, dropped off lunch, picked up some movie relics, and switched to smaller vehicles. Since the drive to Mt. Sunday includes driving through several rivers, the tours try to be as environmentally friendly as they can, so Paige and I along with several other tourists squeezed into the back of one truck while the other half of the group fit into another truck and we drove through the cattle grazing fields and halfway up Mt. Sunday, as far as the track went.
We then hiked the rest of the way to the top, where our guide, Mac, explained about how the set had been built, where everything would have been, and other random facts about the movies. We then got to take pictures with Aragorn's sword, Eowyn's sword, Gimli's axe, and the flag of Rohan, and of course the scenery! Lucky for us the weather was even more beautiful than predicted and it was sunny and warm, despite it being winter and normally cold and windy... After a good hour of taking in the beautiful views and fake sword fighting, we walked back down to the trucks and returned to the station for our champagne lunch. They were some other posters, flags, books, etc inside, so we spent some time looking at those, and I eventually caved and bought a book that is an illustrated guide to the locations used to film the Lord of the Rings movies. (It'll be a good guide for planning my next trip!)
Eventually we packed up and headed back, watching more of the behind-the-scenes footage from the movies, and napping along the way. After a few hours we got back into the city and got dropped off at our various locations. Paige and I picked up our bags and headed back over to Base Backpackers where we were spending our last two nights.
We checked in, unloaded our stuff and went back out to grab dinner. We got back later and went to the hostel bar where we were meeting our Scottish friend from the night before. He showed up later with a friend in tow so naturally, we started playing cards. One of the guys from South Africa who had been on the LoTR tour also met up with us, and a few other random people joined in our card playing festivities. I called it a night somewhat early because I felt like I was getting a cold and wanted to rest up before our last day, and Paige hung out a bit longer.