Mount Sunday: Edoras

New Zealand: The Lord of the RingsMount Sunday: Edoras

Location

This has to be one of the most remote Lord of the Rings locations one can publicly access. Amidst the vast Rangitata river valley in New Zealand's Southern Alps lies Mount Sunday, a sheer-sided hill that provided the perfect setting for Edoras - Rohan's capital city. The hill was given its name because boundary riders from the high-country stations would meet here on Sundays.

Building the set was a massive undertaking, not only due to its remote location but also because of the high winds that are funnelled through the valley. It needed the New Zealand army to build several hundred metres of access road before the production crew was able to access the hilltop and start with the set construction. All the structures had to be secured to the rock with iron pegs in order to withstand the elements.

The focal point of the set was Meduseld - The Great Golden Hall of the Kings - which stood atop the hill, overlooking around a dozen other buildings, including the stables, the gatehouse and a wooden tower.

The Golden Hall dominates the stunning set of Edoras.

The Golden Hall dominates the stunning set of Edoras.

Filming only took about three weeks, with all the interior scenes shot in the studio in Wellington. After the wrap, the entire set was dismantled and everything was returned to its natural state.

 

 

Key Scenes

The location of Edoras has its first appearance in The Two Towers. Having left the ancient forest of Fangorn, Aragorn, Gandalf, Legolas and Gimli ride to the Rohan capital.

The companions stop their horses in sight of the citadel while Gandalf heeds a warning: "Be careful what you say. Do not look for welcome here."

The companions stop their horses in sight of the citadel while Gandalf heeds a warning: "Be careful what you say. Do not look for welcome here."

At the same time, Eowen, daugther of King Theoden is standing in front of the Golden Hall, overlooking the vast landscape below.

At this very moment, a gust of wind rips the flag of Rohan from its pole and blows it across the village.

At this very moment, a gust of wind rips the flag of Rohan from its pole and blows it across the village.

As Aragorn and his friends enter the town through the main gate, the flag drops to the ground right next to them.

As Aragorn and his friends enter the town through the main gate, the flag drops to the ground right next to them.

Clearly, they are not welcome and receive sidelong looks from the locals.

Gimli: "You'll find more cheer in a graveyard."

Gimli: "You'll find more cheer in a graveyard."

The friends quickly discover that King Theoden is under the control of Saruman and his helper - Grima Wormtongue. Gandalf manages to break the power of the spell and hands Theoden his sword, who turns his eyes on Grima. He throws the coward out of his hall and down the steps.

Théoden raises his sword to kill Gríma, but is stopped by Aragorn: "No my lord! No my lord. Let him go. Enough blood has been spilt on his account."

Théoden raises his sword to kill Gríma, but is stopped by Aragorn: "No my lord! No my lord. Let him go. Enough blood has been spilt on his account."

A short while after, the King's dead son Theodred is carried out of the city and buried amongst the foothills. After the ceremonial crowd has dispersed, only Gandalf and the King remain. 

Théoden: "Simbelmynë, ever has it grown on the tombs of my forebears. Now it shall cover the grave of my son."

Théoden: "Simbelmynë, ever has it grown on the tombs of my forebears. Now it shall cover the grave of my son."

Théoden: "No parent should have to bury their child."

Théoden: "No parent should have to bury their child."

Gandalf: "He was strong in life. His spirit will find its way to the halls of your fathers."

Gandalf: "He was strong in life. His spirit will find its way to the halls of your fathers."

Back in the city, the King decides to abandon Edoras and seek refuge in the mountain fortress of Helm's Deep.

The Rohirrim are leaving Edoras.

The Rohirrim are leaving Edoras.

All of the following sceneframing shots are from The Return of the King:

After Pippin has been manipulated by the Pallanthir, Gandalf and Pippin leave Edoras on Shawdowfax and ride for Minas Tirith.

After Pippin has been manipulated by the Pallanthir, Gandalf and Pippin leave Edoras on Shawdowfax and ride for Minas Tirith.

Meanwhile, King Theoden gives his officer Gamling the order to gather the army. Théoden: "Make haste across the Riddermark. Summon every able-bodied man to Dunharrow."

Meanwhile, King Theoden gives his officer Gamling the order to gather the army. Théoden: "Make haste across the Riddermark. Summon every able-bodied man to Dunharrow."

Gamling nods and departs. Théoden watches the Riders depart from Edoras.

Gamling nods and departs. Théoden watches the Riders depart from Edoras.

 

 

Videos

Map

Mount Sunday is open to the public and accessible via a walking track which starts on Hakatere Potts Road, about 48 km west of Mount Somers. The walk to the summit of Edoras takes about 30min one-way and is well-signposted (so is the carpark).

Travel Tips

Should you prefer to experience this stunning location with a bunch of like-minded people, we recommend hopping on a tour with Hassle Free Tours. Stefan did a trip with them in July 2017 (in the middle of New Zealand's winter) and thoroughly enjoyed it, which you can read about here.

 

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