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