Queenstown New Zealand April 2017 (19 photos)

This is part 3 of my New Zealand series of posts.

Peninsula Hill is a significant feature of the landscape of Queenstown and much of Peninsula Hill is taken up by the private property and (former) tourist attraction known as Deer Park Heights.

In the photo above I am standing on the eastern side of the Queenstown Gardens along the Frankton Arm of Lake Wakatipu, looking northeast just upon dawn. In the mid distance is a brown hill which is Deer Park Heights, marked by small telecommunication structures at the peak. Further in the background is The Remarkables Mountain Range.

Now I’m standing at the peak of Deer Park Heights looking back at Queenstown.

Deer Park Heights once featured a safari-type environment in which visitors could hand-feed livestock, including bison, deer, llamas and goats. In 2009 Deer Park Heights was closed to visitors. “Forever… possibly” according to the landowners who have since retired. Public access by motor vehicle is no longer permitted.

However, a friend of mine who lives in Queenstown was able to arrange for the gates of Deer Park Heights to be opened for me, allowing motor vehicle access to the top. For this I am particularly grateful to all concerned.

Deer Park Heights offers magnificent views.

To the north is Frankton and the Kawarau River, the set location for the River Anduin in the Lord of the Rings movies.

To the east is the Remarkables Mountain Range with a highest point of 2319 metres. They are so named as they one of only two mountain ranges in the world which run directly north to south. The Remarkables were portrayed as the slopes of Dimrill Dale where the Fellowship of the Ring rested after escaping the Mines of Moria and witnessing the fall of Gandalf.

In a later post I’ll show some photos I took after flying in a helicopter and landing near the peak of The Remarkables. Regular readers will recall I flew in a helicopter with the doors removed over Uluru and Kata Tjuta last year.

To the south is Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu and the imposing sight of the Cecil Hills. Lake Wakatipu was the set location for Lothlorien.

To the west are unlimited mountain vistas including the peak of Ben Lomond.

Deer Park Heights itself is Queenstown’s largest Lord of the Rings location and was used for many of the scenes depicting the barren landscape of Rohan. Scenes filmed here include:

The escape from Edoras to Helm’s Deep.

The encampment scene where Eowyn discovers that Aragorn is 87 years old, one of the last survivors of the Dunedain.

The attack of the Wargs upon the Rohirrim and the fall of Aragorn.

Part of Gandalf’s ride towards Gondor.

The location where Aragorn emerges from the Paths of the Dead to see the pirate flotilla pillaging villages.

I was taking in this magnificent scenery and setting myself up to get some nice sunset shots when I soon learned one of the dangers of photographing from a height in New Zealand.

Low clouds form very quickly and blew in over a matter of seconds. Soon I was completely engulfed in low clouds.

New Zealand’s nickname of the Land of the Long White cloud is well deserved.

This is part 3 of my New Zealand series of posts.

Leica Etcetera, Photography Etcetera

Dragon tales of Middle Earth: Deer Park Heights


92 thoughts on “Dragon tales of Middle Earth: Deer Park Heights

  1. These are magnificent! Maybe I’m partial to mountains, as where I am is flat as a pancake. Love the nickname of Land of the Long White Cloud… My area would be called, Land of Ever Changing Weather. πŸ˜‰

    • “”What about elevenses? Luncheon? Afternoon tea? Dinner? Supper? He knows about them, doesn’t he?””

      Thank you kindly. It would be a beautiful spot to spend all day, maybe even do some long exposures or time lapses of clouds.

    • Thank you. The low cloud came in very fast, initially as scattered puffs, then larger masses with occasional beaks in the cloud, then just a continuous blanket. In the end, I had to decide enough was enough and leave to get some dinner.

    • We all need a little help from our friends every now and then. It would have been a very long uphill walk otherwise, carrying all that photographic gear. πŸ™‚

      Everywhere you look there are mountains and the lake is pretty special, too. It’s a beautiful place.

  2. Just got back home after a few days in Philadelphia, during which time I stayed offline. I’ll have to go back to see your other NZ posts. We all profited by you being allowed on the private property and thanks for all the LOTR tie-ins. I’ll have to show my husband.


    • Thanks, Janet. I hope you had a nice break.

      I go back and watch snippets of those movies on youtube and try to see if I can recognise the locations. It’s all good fun. πŸ™‚

  3. Wow, just Wow… What a privilege of accessing this stunning, vest landscape. These images are truly magnificent, that give us the privilege of viewing them. Thank you so much, Dragon!

  4. All beautiful shots, Draco. Especially like the one with that great ribbon of fence which gave me a sense of actually walking there. M

  5. Beautiful roling hills, Dragon. That safari must have been huge at Deer Park Heights when it was still around. Imagine herds roaming free and wild. Hope the clouds weren’t too cold when they descended.

    • On the way up I did see a herd of deer. But they move/startle quickly and I couldn’t get my camera out in time. Just a couple of iPhone snaps.

      You’re suspicion is right, it was cold up there in the wind and cloud. I was ready for that. πŸ™‚

    • It’s good to get something different out of one’s holidays, like your husband did at the 101st airborne museum. The views from private land were fantastic and there was no fighting crowds.

      Thank you very much.

      • I completely agree, regardless of where you are, getting a bit off the usual tourist track is often very rewarding.
        Ok, so I’d like your opinion on something if you don’t mind. I am pretty sure the opportunity to go on safari in Africa will be presenting itself. I am considering getting a wide angle lens for landscape shots. I shoot with a Canon 50D and have a 50mm lens but am looking at something more in the range of like 10-20mm. I’d appreciate your thoughts on a mm and aperture range?

        • That would be a fantastic trip.

          Personally I have a prime 18mm lens for wide shots. That is my preferred angle and I almost always shoot it at f8 unless the light is poor, then I go down to f2.8 or f4. Basically I want everything in focus.

          I have tried a prime 15mm but didn’t like it. The distortion was just a bit much for me and I would get vignetting in the corners with my camera particularly in bright light. I was using a full frame system. I’ve never been any wider except when I used a fisheye and that has limited applications.

          Whatever lens you choose, try it on your camera at all focal lengths. If the super wide angles don’t look good then buy a prime lens instead which will usually give you a better focal range.

          I hope that helps.

  6. Juan says:

    Gracias nuevamente por permitirme disfrutar de esas imΓ‘genes hermosas. Es luz para los ojos y un alimento para el alma. Juan

    • Yes, I felt very lucky to get a different view of Queenstown from such a great location. I’ve had a taste and now definitely have to go back to NZ again. Some really good restaurants too.
      Thanks very much, Sue.

  7. Stunning views indeed. I enjoyed a few days in Queenstown during our travels there in 2015 but closer to the sea level. Never saw it from these magnificent heights 😍

  8. garymcgrath says:

    Beautiful pictures. I live around the corner from Deer Park Heights and have always wished I could get up there to see the view first-hand, looks amazing.

  9. How wonderful your photos are. As a fan of LOTR (my eldest son is named Rohan and I am amazed I didn’t name my daughter Γ‰owyn, but she slipped by me. The only females I could recall were Galadriel and Rosie Gamgee!) it is interesting to see the landscapes where the books were filmed. And as usual, your photos are superb.

    • Thank you, Jude. You’re right, women don’t feature heavily in the books/movies, perhaps a blessing in disguise for your daughter? πŸ™‚

      I watched parts of the movies on youtube before going. On location, I could actually imagine scenes from the movies as I travelled around. But the scenery is the star and that’s what I wish to highlight – in a fun way. πŸ™‚

  10. Breathtaking views… you can’t get much better scenery than this to photograph, you did a beautiful job!! πŸ™‚

    Lucky you had a great friend who helped you out and you got to see a lot more than you would have.

    I do recognise that river, hills and mountains, and roads, very much reminds me of The Lord Of The Rings movies.

    So did you escape the mist and find your way back fairly easily? I have heard of that falling mist occurring even in some mountainous areas in the UK, can be very dangerous if you’re not ready and prepared to set up camp and keep warm until the mist is gone. It reminds me of some of the beaches in Norfolk, they look harmless, until you see the speed at which the tide comes in and circles pools of water around you, cutting you off from dry ground in minutes. Nature can be uplifting, and also pretty scary!πŸ˜‘

    • Thank you, Suzy. I watched some of the scenes from LOTR after visiting New Zealand and instantly recognised some of the locations. It was a nice feeling. πŸ™‚

      It was still light when the cloud descended so there was no problem with the s-l-o-w descent down. Descending out of the cloud I thought about stopping for my photos but thought better of it. It was getting rather cold.

  11. Walter Burbank says:

    My son and i are arriving in Queenstown in April. I’ll ask around to see if we can get through. Otherwise I would be up for the uphill tramp. Any suggestions on how we could get access.

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