With a big hug from Jessica we made our way south for the final time. We had four days to fill before our return home and decided to spend them in Methven once again. I worked out that we have spent more time in the Mount Hutt and Mount Somers area than anywhere else this holiday. The attraction for us is simply the mountains. The Southern Alps run through this area and with river gorges, braided streams, lakes and mountains we find it a fascinating place to explore.
In the winter Methven becomes a busy ski resort since it is close to many skifields and yet not much more than an hour away from Christchurch. But at this time of year it reverts back to a largely agricultural town and, with combine harvesters working in the fields, sheep gathered into the shearing sheds and a little nip in the air at night, it was beginning to feel as though the season was changing just a little.
From both Methven and the small village of Mt Somers we got out into the hills, driving along gravel roads up secluded valleys, visiting lakes, walking old miners’ tracks up onto Mt Somers.
And we just had to revisit one of our favourite spots, Edoras. Or, at least, Mt Sunday which was used in Lord of the Rings as a setting for the Edoras, home of the Roharrim.
Mt Sunday is technically a mountain since it exceeds 1,000 mtrs above mean sea level. However, it rises out of a plain that is aready way above sea level so it’s usually an easy climb and you get wonderful views of the ring of mountains around you. It’s also a great place to sing from. With the mountains and the plain in a ring around you it feels as though you are on a stage. And in such a setting only a Maori song will do so Jane and I sang Te Aroha, which speaks of love and peace, in two part harmony. It was much appreciated by a couple of Israeli girls who were sharing the view with us.
We tried climbing Mt Sunday again on our last day in Methven but the wind was so strong we decided it could be dangerous to go up it. The gusts sweeping down the valley from the mountainsI were incredible and driving down the gravel road on our way back the trail of dust which billowed out from our wheels would sometimes envelop the car completely. We were travelling 50-60 kmph so those gusts would have been well in excess of that.
So, instead of climbing Edoras we drive to nowhere, or Erewhon Station as it is called. This place really is about as far away from civilisation as you can get.
They still farm here using Clydesdale horses and run tours so that you can ride on horse drawn carts out here in nowhere. And, as with so many other places in New Zealand, there were Hobbits, Dwarves, Elves and Wizards wandering about these very hills a few years ago. It’s enough to make you want to go home, dig out the Lords of the Rings DVD and watch it just so we can say, ‘Look we were there. Oh, and look, we went there too, and there. That’s Paradise, that is’.
And, yes, it is paradise but every tale must have an end (cue Annie Lennox singing Into the West) and with the Ring of Power (aka Rav 4 key) returned to the fires of Apex from whence it was forged and this Third Age of our epic journey drawing to a close, it’s time to go to the Grey Havens (Christchurch Airport) where a silver winged ship waits to take us to the Blessed Isle of UK. But, you know, I always thought that someone should do a sequel. Now there’s a thought.
This trip wasn’t made alone and without Jane, well, there would be nothing and the blog would be full of spilling mistaks, typos and downright inaccuraces. Thanks Jane. And thanks also to all of the wonderful people we met on our travels, bach, b&b and motel owners, wine growers, farmers, tour operators, helpful people in iSites, the hard working DOC staff, shop assistants and just people in general, both kiwi and foreigner. New Zealand is a very giving, very beautiful land. Te Aroha.