It’s not often that you get to visit iconic locations from Middle Earth, but that’s what I did with my family this past weekend. It reminded me how easy it is to ‘overlook’ the great hidden locations that might be tucked away near where you live, where-ever that may be. This place is actually called Mt Sunday, since the locals used to meet here on Sunday’s … back in the old days.
Of course it’s been some time since the dwarves, elves, hobbits and ‘men’ -bustled about the village of Edoras (featured in the Lord of the Rings movie, The Two Towers). However, watching that portion of the movie again … I can promise you that it truly is a windy place to visit.
From Christchurch, it is about two hours drive – the first 90 minutes was on sealed roads (although virtually no cars were travelling the same roads once turning off State Highway 1 in Rakaia … so an hour of peaceful drive), with the last half hour on gravel roads (again with very little traffic). The first glimpse of Edoras is shown below.
We elected to take a picnic lunch with us, rather than simply take some obligatory photos and leave. From the road, it was about 45 minute walk up to the top (although we took a bit longer since we stopped to take a lot of photos). It was fairly steep in some places, so I expect it would be quite slippery in the wet (since the track was generally over grass). We purposefully picked a nice day, and that made the picnic much more enjoyable.
It was a peaceful place to visit, and provides some of the best 360 degree alpine panoramic’s that you will ever see. Photos don’t do justice to this mountainous valley, and even the video clips can’t quite capture the enormity of the place. The rivers are clear, clean, fast flowing, and make a merry bubbling noise that soothes away any worries you may have.
Mt Potts Lodge is well advertised as you get closer, although when we went to investigate – were met by someone who didn’t speak English (which made it difficult to find out more). There are a delightful cluster of holiday houses at Lake Clearwater, en route, and with two lakes within walking distance … makes for somewhere to visit again in the summer (and a good option for a place to stay).
There are a variety of walking tracks in the region, and I’m keen to explore a little more.
For many people it’s the easiest way to travel above the 60th parallel, by simply visiting Alaska’s largest city (with about 300,000 residents). At higher latitudes, the summer days are longer – just like the winter nights. However, the scenic beauty of this state is somewhat larger than life – especially for anyone who hasn’t had much time in the great-outdoors. The mountains are big, the sky is big, the wildlife is big, pretty much everything is big … except the population.
For some, a cruise is the preferred way to visit Alaska – just like my parents did some years ago. For me, I like to get out on the road and drive out past the city limits, past the semi-rural homes and lifestyle farms, to see what the country really looks like. I have spent lots of time out in remote mountains, and was truly invigorated by mysterious lure of the Alaskan mountains … and warrants a much longer visit than what I was able to tack onto my work trip.
Winters are cold but manageable for the well prepared. The spring brings new life after the dark winter, but almost certainly is noted by snowmelt runoff and resultant mud. Summers are very pleasant, with long days to enjoy to the full. However, I visited when the autumn leaves were turning, and the snow capped mountains were adorned with green and yellow.
Alaska is too big to adequately capture in a few photos. I suggest that you go and see it for yourself – and take a drive out into the truly great outdoors.
With a special thanks to my family for a great birthday present, I was given the chance to go jet-boating up the Rakaia Gorge recently with my brother. However there is no photo that can adequately show the thrilling adventure of speeding through the beautiful scenery … although I’m very glad that we stopped several times to soak it in (and take some photos).
Although winter has just started, it was a gorgeous day for jet-boating. The wind was very strong, enough to where I took my hat off so that it wouldn’t get blown off! I also put my good camera in my coat pocket once I discovered that the memory card hadn’t been returned to the camera after downloading the last batch of photos. These pictures were taken from a mobile device, so I’m thankful that new devices have such decent camera’s.
Take a river jet boat trip if you ever have the chance. Especially when visiting the South Island of New Zealand. However, check your camera for a memory card first!
As the visitor information says: The seaside settlement of Kaikoura, situated midway between Christchurch and Picton on the rugged east coast of New Zealand’s South Island, is overlooked by majestic mountains, which are snow-capped for many months of the year. Few places in the world can boast of such natural wonders as those offered by land and sea in Kaikoura. This unique combination of ocean and mountains offers stunning coastal alpine scenery and a host of eco-tourism oriented activities, including whale watching, dolphin swimming, walks, and much more!
We took a day-trip from Christchurch, although a long weekend would have been a much better idea! The road from Christchurch gets progressively more curvy as you get closer to this seaside town, and passes through a number of short tunnels along the rugged coastline (which the kids just loved). The mountains drop straight into the Pacific Ocean, into an area called the Kaikoura Canyon. The canyon extends northeast to join the Hikurangi Trough, which in turn connects with the Kermadec Trench, one of the deepest spots on earth (10,047 m at it’s deepest point, or 32,963 ft).
Simply put, Kaikoura is an ideal place for a wildlife nursery – hence the abundance of baby whales, dolphins and seals.
Sometimes a day trip just isn’t enough time … so make sure the preparation and total driving time still allows for a suitably long visit at your destination. If you want to see the whales, AND the dolphins, AND the seals, AND do some walks, AND check out the shops in Kaikoura township, plan on spending a weekend!
My son Luke was recently a good neighbour to the man living next door to the holiday house we had rented in Lake Tekapo (he had offered to help dig a hole that the man was digging in his garden). The man was so taken by this offer, that he offered Luke a free flight around the Southern Alps the next day. So the next day, we went for a flight …! Before we got to the mountains, we passed over one of the spectacular braided rivers that are found in New Zealand. From what I understand, many people have not seen a braided river, so I thought I would simply attach a few photos to give you a glimpse of one from the air.
I also thought it would be a good idead to attach a close up view, so you can better see the detail of this braided river. The colour of the river is natural, and is typical of glacier melt … I believe it’s how the silica particles in the water reflect the light.
Given the circumstances, I thought I should also add a photo of Luke standing in front of the plane that we went up in. It was a perfect day for a flight, without any clouds to speak of.
Teach your kids to be a good neighbour … and don’t turn down free flights when they’re on offer.