Nestled in the Hakatere Conservation Park on Mt Potts station sits Mt Sunday – a sheer-sided hill in the middle of an expansive plain in the Rangitata River valley – a hill made famous by Peter Jackson’s oscar winning trilogy, The Lord of the Rings.
Mt Sunday was the set for Edoras, the capital of Rohan and home to Meduseld, the hall of King Theoden. The fortress city was seen in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. The production crew took nine months to build the set at the top of sheer cliffs, building Golden Hall and surrounding buildings at the top, with the gatehouse and more buildings at its foot.
Director Peter Jackson and his team actually worked from inside the buildings that were constructed – the interior scences from Edoras were filmed several months beforehand in Wellington – so the large buildings in reality served as shelter and extravagant food tents for the approximately 100 cast and crew.
“Mount Potts, near Methven, provided some of the most glorious locations, with an isolated hill in wide valley, buttressed by sheer cliffs, which couldn’t have been closer to Tolkien’s Edoras. We built the exterior of the Golden Hall and surrounding building on top with the gatehouse and more buildings at it foot, with everything in between added post-production.”
Alan Lee – Conceptual Artist/Set Decorator, The Lord of The Rings
At the end of filming the set was dismantled and the area returned to its natural state. Although none of the actual set remains, the spectacular views of Mt Sunday sitting all alone in an expansive river plain surrounded by the Southern Alps is well worth the trip, not to mention the scenery you pass through to get there.
Access to Mt Sunday is via Hakatere Potts Road, inland from Mt Somers and past Lake Camp & Lake Clearwater.
Guided tours operate from Christchurch & Methven to Mt Sunday where you can enjoy a picnic lunch, view behind the scenes photos, handle movie replicas, and receive an informative & entertaining commentary from guides. Please contact the Methven i-SITE Visitor Centre for more information.
It is also possible to park your car on the side of the road and walk up to Mount Sunday via the Mt Sunday Track for expansive views of the surrounding countryside.