Even with the dozens of landscapes which were used while filming the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the site that was arguably the most spectacular was the soaring city of Edoras. Built on top of Mt. Sunday in a remote region of Canterbury, even the crew said they were taken aback by the beauty and serenity of the site.
For those who are traveling around the South Island of New Zealand, Mt. Sunday is about 30 minutes away from the mountain town of Mt. Potts. During the winter there is a ski resort here where skiers are transported by snowcats, and during the rest of the year there is a small outpost with a restaurant, a cattle farm, and a lodge. Even though it’s only two hours from Christchurch, these upper reaches of the Rangitata Valley are shrouded in a refreshing emptiness.
Given the beauty of the remote location and the fame it received in the movies, many of the Lord of the Rings tours from Christchurch make a visit to the out-of-the-way mountain. Although the set of Edoras has since been removed, there was once a time when 50 men took nine months to build the city. Battling winds and constant solitude, they labored to build on this sheer rock face which is backed by the Southern Alps.
Since Mt. Sunday is on private property, the best way to reach the remote outpost is with a guided Lord of the Rings tour. In addition to the scenery where sky, snow, and high-country terrain all combine for a landscape of wonder, the knowledgeable guides can passionately re-create the scenes and setting of the films. The views alone are reason enough to venture out into the countryside, and for Lord of the Rings fans who are exploring the South Island, a trip to Mt. Potts is the most adventurous of options for putting yourself in the movie.