Even if you wanted to, which I certainly don’t, it’s impossible to get away from The Lord of The Rings movies in New Zealand. Peter Jacksons trilogy was more than a masterful book adaptation, it cemented New Zealands place as a land of unsurpassed natural beauty in the eyes of the world. The first of the iconic sights I was to see was Mount Ruapehu and Mount Ngauruhoe– or Mt. Doom.
After a stunning night around Taupo,
I decided to ride around from Taupo to approach the area from a different angle- The Forgotten World Highway. I was a little leery of it since it sound so touristy, but it didn’t take long to realise that despite the hype, the road is still as gorgeous as they come.
The drama starts with a great single lane tunnel- pitch black with dripping walls and a smell old moss- the pearly gates to a great ride.
the gravel road that follows makes a prayer of thanks inevitable, even for the most avowed of secularists.
From there the road starts to climb the side of the gorge, crossing the same river a number of times. The crossings are the kind where both sides are the pretty ones you want to stop and take a photo of.
I forget… left and right or right and left…?
Once at the top of the gorge you re-enter pasture land, but not one of gently rolling hills. This pasture is one of drama- fast corners hugging the peaks, hard braking descents to a bridge before a roaring ascent back to the peaks.
It is also where you catch your first glimpse of Mt. Doom. A most incongruous view that makes you wonder at the power of computer graphics since this is certainly not the land of Mordor!
As you ride closer the views, if anything, start to resemble what you’d expect even less. Just truly gorgeous countryside- a human sized Hobbiton rather than a dead land filled with evil.
Off the Forgotten Highway and on the road to the volcanoes, things start to look up. First the land slowly becomes dominated by the looming peaks.
Then the trees start to become a bit stunted and the green begins to be replaced by scruffy browns…
Ah, now I start to see it- really, it wouldn’t take much to make this look like Mordor- just some basic CGI…
But all that was before you hit the ski area and the base of the volcanoes proper. Somehow the forlorn looking ski lifts and huts added to the image of a place devoid of life or hope. Mordor true and proper.
Then you descend a bit and look out over lake Taupo…
And well, really? That was some sneaky filming there Pete!