Mt Sunday(611m) – Lord of the Rings Country

“A Mish a Day” #106 Mt Sunday(611m). Hakatere Conservation Area. 18.7.2017. As you round a small corner on the Hakatere / Mount Potts Road and get your first view of the Rangitata Valley you can understand why Sir Peter Jackson immediately knew this area would be used in Lord of the Rings. The grand mountain scene deep in Hakatere Conservation Park became ‘Edoras’ during the filming of the three movies. A huge majority of the visitors to the area beyond Lake Clearwater Village come to hike and enjoy the views on the Mt Sunday Track. The easy track is not only famous for the world class vistas, but also because it was featured so much throughout the trilogy that it is instantly recognizable to the diehard fans of the films…

I went to Mt Sunday with the Whanau, including my 6 year old nephew, Benji and 1 year old niece, Beffie. The 2017 winter was a cold one for the Hakatere Area, cold enough to freeze most of Lake Clearwater and all of Lake Camp, this used to happen a lot more in the past. We stopped in at the village and found some snow to slide down, as we took in the incredible winter environment. The team spent the night at the small crib we are lucky enough to be able to use thanks to family friends, and with the fire roaring we enjoyed a warm night inside with a winter wonderland outside. Mt Sunday(611m) is about 20 minutes from the village, and during the drive we all witnessed the famous view of the Rangitata Valley from the road which hit Sir Peter like a ton of bricks. After a stop for some photos we continued to the car park at the start of the track. Because the track is on the north side of the valley, it is in the shade most of the morning and we had a rather chilly start.

Sunrise at Lake Clearwater

The kids(adults included) enjoyed the simple pleasure of smashing the ice in the frozen puddles on the track as we all made our way towards our goal of Mt Sunday(611m). By the time we got to the base of the small mound that is Mt Sunday, the sun was out and so was Beffie, asleep in the backpack! We were all getting treated to a perfect day in the Rangitata Valley with barely a breath of wind in the air. Benji powered his way up the mountain like a champ and the whole Whanau slowly followed on. Once reassembled we enjoyed a snack on the summit in the sun, the whole time taking in the epicness that surrounded us. Our adventure really showed us why so many people from all over the world make the effort to get to this remote little mountain. From Christchurch it is only two hours drive to the start of the track, and it isn’t a very demanding hike (slow and steady is key), with only one small climb to the top of Mt Sunday. So I would recommend this track to people with little ones who want to get an epic mountain experience with an easy walk everyone can enjoy. A Sunday drive to Mt Sunday(711m) for a Sunday stroll, maybe something you do next Sunday!

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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