Mid-june, in Christchurch. To escape from the demanding urban life, we decided to enjoy this weekend’s nice weather to go exploring the Ashburton lakes region and hike on Mount Sunday.
The Ashburton Lakes
It takes 2:30 from Christchurch to reach this beautiful place, including a 30km portion of dirt road. But don’t worry, even if you don’t have a 4WD it’s easily accessible and you’re rewarded all along the way by breathtaking views on the Southern Alps and its stunning valleys.
So here we are, en route with our friend Sam, listening to an old tape of Paul Mac Cartney on our vintage radio player. We have to stop at every turns : the scenery is so wonderful we can’t help to take our time to admire it….
This morning, there is no wind at all. When we arrive in the lakes area, we find in fact some incredible giant mirrors. It’s absolutely spectacular and unreal. A parallel reality in horizontal symmetry open at our feet when we go strolling on the banks. We are dreaming about jumping in this poetic geometric world. The most beautiful of the lakes, lake Clearwater, keeps us by its side for a whole hour at least. It’s certainly one of the most beautiful lakes of New Zealand. It’s for sure one of our favourite places in South Island and we took some of the best pictures of our trip there.
We resume driving on the gravel road, sending rocks and dirt flying all over, and controlling two or three drifts in the turns. Quentin is having a lot of fun, feeling like he is back in Australia driving his 4WD.
After a turn, the panorama opens suddenly before us, like the pages of a giant geology book : we are now facing a wide and ancient glacial valley surrounded by high rocky peaks and slowly eroded by a polar blue river. The producers of the Lord of the Ring shooted scenes here for their Rohan area and it’s defnitly the place that renders the best the atmosphere of the movies of all New Zealand! We follow the winding road jumping over the river, listening to the soundtrack of the Lord of the Rings that fits perfectly this incredible scenery.
A Sunday on Mount Sunday, in the heart of the Rohan : Edoras
We finally park our car along a vast plain. In the middle sits Mount Sunday ( Edoras in the LOTR, the fans will recognise it). Let’s go to the top! We nearly regret not to be riding horses at this moment, as the hay smelling plain invites us to an unbridled gallop.
Mount Sunday is not really impressive and we reach the summit fairly quickly. From there we have a stunning 360° view over the valley. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a good picnic or simply to relax while admiring the beauty and the serenity of the panorama. Talking about serenity… The place was perfectly quiet for a while until a group of fans of the LOTR joined us at the top, shouting to the sky waving huge plastic swords and taking silly pictures! But it didn’t last long, and the happy group was soon walking down the slope, letting us alone and peaceful once again.
To conclude, this is really a tiny fantasy world where we would have loved to stay longer and that we left as if waking from a very nice dream. On the way back, we stopped one last time by the quiet lakes, mirroring the last lights of the day. A nice way to end a fantastic daytrip!
See you soon
Tintin & Riette