The Quest for Rohan

The Quest for Rohan

Okay lovely readers, if you’re not a Lord of the Rings fan like me, then it’s quite possible that you won’t fully appreciate the magnitude of this post.

But for me, this place… this is why I went to New Zealand.

My favourite film in the LOTR trilogy is The Two Towers which heavily features a fort city called Edoras in the kingdom of Rohan, which is known for being a culture of horsemen. I was spellbound every time the story came back to this magical location and knew that someday I had to see it for myself.

When I started planning my trip, I knew that I was going to try and visit my cousin Dale who happens to live in a small town in Canterbury on the South Island. When I started researching the area I soon realized that Edoras (or Mount Sunday in real life) was located only an hour’s drive away. I didn’t want to put all my hope in actually getting to make it there in person, but to be so close and miss it would have broken my heart.

Fast forward to the day I arrived at the Christchurch Airport… and queue the dreariest, rainiest day you can imagine. I only had a short window (two days) to make the trip to Edoras and I knew that the weather could be a major factor in its success. We waited all day for the rain to subside and it didn’t. I woke up the next morning hoping to see a glimmer of sun, and… nope, still raining. We decided to go for it anyway and wish for the best.

The rain continued for the first half of the drive until we veered off the main highway onto a long, gravel road. To my absolute glee, the clouds started to lift. The drive became a stunning journey into the middle of nowhere (or Middle Earth!). Seriously, we passed some campgrounds and sheep stations and that was about it. I couldn’t even see any power lines.

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And then out of the clouds… I spotted it. EDORAS!!!!

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Is this real life?

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We drove up to the convenient car park and crossed over a series of streams and rivers to reach the base of the mountain. It was an easy 30 minute hike to the top and as soon as we saw the views we wished we had packed a picnic lunch so that we could’ve stayed up there all afternoon. Simply stunning!

IMG_7931IMG_3507IMG_3515IMG_3522At this point in my trip, a mere four days in, I was content. This is what I came to see and everything else would just be icing on the cake. And trust me, there was a lot of icing!

Have you ever travelled to visit a film location?

Are you an LOTR nerd like me?

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Plitvice Lakes National Park

A picture is worth so much more than a thousand words. Every once in a while I see a photo of a place I’ve never heard of before and immediately add it to my bucket list: Bruges (check). Dubrovnik (check). Plitvice Lakes National Park (check).

This trip was fantastic for exploring lesser known wonders that deserve every bit as much recognition as the big seven. Plitvice Lakes is the oldest national park in Croatia, made famous for its 16 cascading lakes and renowned for the stunning range of colours from turquoise to green, grey or blue. The park was officially added to the UNESCO World Heritage register in 1979 and was one of the first natural sites to make the list.

We planned our trip to Plitvice on our last full day in Croatia. Our hired guide for the day, Mladen of Funky Zagreb, gave us a world class tour with all the history and local hookups to make our day a memorable highlight. Our first stop of the day was at the Croatian War Museum just south of Karlovac where we learned about the city’s role in the Croatian Homeland War from 1991-1995. It is still shocking to think that the bombed out buildings were destroyed less than 20 years ago.

From there we continued on to a dairy farm where the Novkovic family made us a delicious breakfast fit for a king: home-made cheese, jam, eggs, bread, organic apple juice, and even some morning liqueur (When in Croatia!!). We also stopped in the sleepy watermill village of Rastoke where we enjoyed a wake-up coffee and landscapes akin to scenes from Lord of the Rings. I was almost expecting to see hobbits emerging from the cute little houses.

By lunch we had arrived at the park and spent a magical four hours wandering along the wooden pathways and climbing beside waterfalls as we photographed the lakes from every angle. It was so tranquil and rejuvenating to be out in nature and simply appreciating the beauty of creation. Although, no single image was as impressive as Niagara Falls, it was the culmination of the colours, size, and sounds that contributed to such a beautiful sensory experience. I couldn’t think of a better way to end our trip. Until next time…

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