Mt Sunday: A Journey to Edoras – Lord of the Rings Film Location

Mt Sunday

The Ashburton Lakes are home to Edoras, the Lord of the Rings Film Location.  While there is nothing left of the set here, the easy walks give phenomenal views of the Southern Alps and Lakes Basin.  Rarely busy, this is a great off the beaten track walk in Canterbury.

Lord of the Rings Film Location

Mt Sunday was a Lord of the Rings film location, although nothing remains of it today.  Can’t quite place the Lord of the Rings reference? Let me help jog your memory.

In the second Lord of the Rings film, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Edoras was where Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli and Gandalf met with King Theoden.  It is a large fortresses city high in the hull, whose people were farmers and horsemen.

You will be interested to know that Mt Sunday wasn’t even on the original list of film locations to scout, however a storm caused the scout plane to detour, and they stumbled across the perfect location for Edoras.  If you are looking for a unique free Lord of the Rings experience, then exploring Mt Sunday and the surrounding area is for you.

How to get to Mt Sunday

Mt Sunday is located in the Ashburton Lakes region in the Hakatere Conservation Park.  It takes just over an hour to reach Lake Clearwater, the “centre” of the Ashburton Lakes area, then its another 16km on the gravel road to reach Mt Sunday.  How long this will take you depends on how fast you drive on the gravel.

Keep heading past Lake Clearwater, you will head down a steep hill, then continue on the gravel for another few minutes.  You will see the big “hill” in the valley and this is Mt Sunday.  The track is signposted and carpark is on the left hand side of the road.  Do be aware that this is private land, so please treat it with care.

Google maps will take you safely to the destination, but do be aware the cell phone service is very poor in this area.  Once you hit the gravel road, you do not need any further directions.  The gravel road is suitable for cars, 4WD not required.

Last facilities at Lake Camp

The last set of toilets are just after Lake Camp (on your left) and before Lake Clearwater (on your right)  They are very modern, new toilets and very clean when we visited.  We were very impressed.  If you are looking for a sheltered lunch stop, I would recommend Lake Camp as the Mt Sunday walk is very exposed.

The Mt Sunday Track: the details

The walk itself took approximately an hour return with a few photo stops and a 3 year old who walked, got tired, and walked some more.  The track is gravel and grass and very easy.  So, it’s great for kids of all ages and not too taxing!  Theres a small swing bridge to cross and some little streams to jump over on the way too.

The 360 degree views from the top were awesome and I bet even more magical in colder temperatures with snow up on the mountains!  Check out our video below to get an idea of the track.

It may be in the middle of nowhere, but I did say this walk was off the beaten track.  I just love that you get amazing views over the Southern Alps with such a short climb.  And the best bit, it’s never busy, so you really do feel like you are in the New Zealand wilderness.  There are other great walks and activities in this area too, so take a look below 

Other activities in the Ashburton Lakes area:

Check out our Guide to the Ashburton Lakes Area including the following:
  • Mt Guy Walk – a tough but rewarding uphill walk.  Click the link for other walks in the area too
  • Lake Camp – boating and swimming
  • Lake Clearwater – walk around the flat base track


Founder of Backyard Travel Family

Jen is a super organiser when it comes to travel. Having travelled extensively in Europe and Africa, has lived in London and the USA and holidayed in many parts of Asia, she is not a newbie to the travel space

Jen has three young children, 8 and under and travels around New Zealand with them.

Backyard Travel Family New Zealand. Lets share these articles and spread the love

what you need to know


90 minutes from Ashburton on Hakatere Potts Road. The road will be gravel, you head past all the lakes and settlements, keep doing down a huge hill and you will see the hill (Mt Sunday) in the middle of the valley. It is signposted and carpark is on your left

The Trail

Grass, compacted dirt and gravel
Duration: 30 minutes each way easy walking. Flat with 5-10 minutes to the top of the hill


- Toilets on the left hand side, just past Lake Camp and before Lake Clearwater. None available on the walk
- No shelter available at all. Large exposed grassy plains and windy up on top of the hill.

What to bring

- Sunscreen and hats essential.
- Jackets in cooler weather

Food options

- None. Closest food options at Mt Somers Village and Staveley

What the critics thought

I walked for a bit, but I could see up higher from the backpack. I did walk up the hill, I was the leader. It was soooo windy up the top.
Backyard Travel Family / Your go to for practical advice for active families travelling around New Zealand
3 year old fire cracker
This is a great bang for your buck walk. Short but with fantastic views. Really easy for the kids so we will definitely come back again.
Backyard Travel Family / Your go to for practical advice for active families travelling around New Zealand
Chief Travel Organiser
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