New Zealand: The Lord of the Rings
We recently hiked a small part of the famous Kepler Track that follows LOTR's River Anduin.
A Hike along the Anduin
Back in 2010, Pennie and I embarked on a three-day adventure along the famed Kepler Track, one of New Zealand's so-called 'Great Walks'. Little did we know at the time, that part of the track follows a movie river.
So here we were in March 2017 back on the track, or at least part of it, together with our daughter. The idea was to walk up to an extensive wetland area, have a snack, and return before midday.
Just a few kilometres before the start of the hike, there is a great viewpoint of the Waiau river that stood in as the Anduin in The Fellowship of the Ring. We parked the car and I hopped out to make my way through a stand of trees until I reached a bank with the river below. The sight looked pretty familiar.
Access to this viewpoint is from the Manapouri - Te Anau highway. Turn into Rainbow Reach Road and follow the gravel road for about 350 metres. Just before the road veers right, follow the unmarked track into the trees. The viewpoint of the river bend is at S45° 25' 37" / W167° 45' 4" or -45.426944 / -167.751111.
The road then continues for another two kilometres to the Rainbow Reach carpark.
We grabbed our backpacks, locked the car (thieves love to target remote tourist carparks!) and crossed the swingbridge above the Waiau River.
After climbing up a short trailhead, we turned on to the Kepler Track, keeping the river to our left. The track meanders through pristine native beech forest, and the ground and even the tree trunks were covered in moss of all shades of green imaginable. For our daughter, this was clearly fairy country! We had to stop every few minutes to examine tree trunks and earthen burrows to search for gnomes, nymphs and other folk.
It took us about 50 minutes before the trees started to give way to an extensive wetland area.
We decided to have a lunch break at a viewing platform overlooking a small lake. Were it not for the sandflies and the weather closing in on us, we would have liked to stay for a bit longer - not to mention the challenge of cajoling a five-year old to walk all the way back again.
For more information about the stunning Kepler Track, New Zealand's Department of Conservation has a comprehensive website with loads of information on how to approach this amazing wilderness adventure.