Arwen: If you want him, come and claim him!

New Zealand April 2017 (16 photos)

This is Part 6 of my New Zealand series of posts.

So says Arwen as she turned to face the Witch King of Angmar and the other Nazgul having crossed the Ford of Bruinen, prepared to defend Frodo Baggins with her life. This scene from The Fellowship of the Ring was taken at the location shown in my photo above. Here’s a screenshot from the movie…

The location is the Shotover River, deep inside Skippers Canyon. It is actually impossible to ride a horse into that area and the descent to the Ford of Bruinen was shot in Arrowtown as I mentioned in my post Dragon tales of Middle Earth: Arrowtown.

As I stood there I thought I heard the echoes of an elvish chant:

“Nîn o Chithaeglir lasto beth dear. Rimmo nín Bruinen dan in Ulaer!”

And when I saw the water start to rise, I ran for my life.

The Shotover River in Skippers Canyon has a heritage as one of New Zealand’s richest gold-bearing rivers.

Skippers Canyon is a historic and scenic gorge, approximately 22 kilometres in length, several kilometres north of Queenstown.

At the beginning of the gold rush, no track or road was present in Skippers Canyon. With the gold rush, the demand for a proper road grew. Skippers Canyon Road was surveyed around 1883 with the goal to make Skippers Canyon more accessible.

Skippers Canyon Road is a narrow, winding, and treacherous pathway that twists and turns for much of the length of Skippers Canyon. It was carved and blasted directly out of the solid rock by labourers using only black gunpowder and hand drills. This was considered to be an engineering miracle as the road is literally carved out of solid schist rock and it doesn’t look much different today than when it was first created.

Original rock walls persist where the mountain was cut into.

The road is single vehicle access only in many areas and there are no guardrails. The local rock is so soft that it quickly turns into dust in dry weather and to greasy mud in wet.

The road is considered so dangerous that rental car insurance won’t be honoured if you drive on it.

Skippers Canyon Road is today one of New Zealand’s better known scenic roads and a tourist attraction in its own right.

The road affords beautiful views through twisty hair pin corners, high elevations and steep grades.

Apart from its goldmining history, Skippers Canyon was also the site where Hydro-electricity was first generated at a place called Dynamo in the left branch of Skippers creek.

Skippers Canyon Road is a heritage structure protected by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.

Leica Etcetera, Photography Etcetera

Dragon tales of Middle Earth: Skippers Canyon


75 thoughts on “Dragon tales of Middle Earth: Skippers Canyon

  1. The most dangerous roads are often the most scenic. Looks like you weren’t the only photographer to wander out there, or is that a sneaky self-portrait? 😉

    • Yes, the unsafe route often provides some unexpectedly good views. And the hint of danger keeps you alert. 🙂

      Perhaps I shouldn’t answer that last question and let you wonder? 🙂 🙂 🙂 The area does attract a few photographers. Additionally, the Shotover River is the location for action jet boat rides so small groups come by at regular intervals.

  2. I wish there was more than one like button for this post, but blame it on WP! Loved the narrative and the photos, but you had from the time you made the Lord of the Rings reference. Great job and thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. What a glorious place, but I can see why driving could be more than a bit hair-raising! The LOTR scene you referenced is one that even I said, “Hey, that’s not right. Arwen didn’t do that.” But we made peace with all the discrepancies and greatly enjoyed all the episodes.


  4. It is always illuminating to spy the scifi/fantasy geek hiding within a professional. I would have never known of this Tolkien depth if not for the glorious pictures of the backdrop to the Lord of The Rings series. Reminds me of my husband’s insistence that we visit a place in Caserta, Italy because scenes from the slightly-more-recent Star Wars franchise (Vol I. II. and III) had been filmed there. I wonder, did you always desire to travel to this out of the way place or were you motivated more by dreams of Arwen?

    • Actually, I’d never heard of Skippers Canyon until I researched my trip to Queenstown and I visited the area. I knew that LOTR was filmed in New Zealand but knew none of the particulars until I started searching on the internet. The beautiful landscapes of NZ are what I came for. The LOTR trivia I learned along the way was a bonus. 🙂

  5. I started out thinking the scenery nothing out of the ordinary but you soon convinced me. That schist rock and the wispy trees… and I want to be on that bridge… please 🙂 🙂

    • Like gold panning/fossicking, sometimes you have to go through a little ordinary to find the extraordinary. The natural landscape has many different faces. I loved it all. 🙂

      The river beneath the bridge is where the action jet boat rides go.

    • Thanks, Lisa. I’ve walked on that road and it’s just loose gravel. I’m glad I didn’t know about the quality of the road before being taken there. They wouldn’t build something like that nowadays. The heritage listing probably prevents them from ever upgrading it.

    • In 2016, according to website — which searches for the world’s most dangerous routes — Skippers Canyon Rd is/was the 3rd most dangerous road in the world.

      Maybe I should get a t-shirt that says “I survived Skippers Canyon Rd”. 🙂 🙂 🙂

  6. Breathtaking would be the right word to describe this site, breathtaking and heart-stopping. Love your river of gold, winding road, and purplish patterns in your almost abstract relief images. One photo in particular tickles my fancy – one of the hitchhiking rock hand. Do you know which one I am referring to?

    • Thanks very much, Paula. Yes, I know which one you are referring to. Funnily, it is the only photo I took where we simply stopped suddenly in the middle of the road because it looked so beautiful. After a few photos we drove away. All other photos we deliberately pulled over and parked. Sometimes you just have to take the chance.

      I assume you’re still having the problems with my site not opening properly?

      • Yes, I do. Sorry I forgot to revisit the reader. I don’t have the habit and then your blog suffers. I’ll correct it right away.

        • Thanks, Paula. I suspected you still have the problem. It’s been a few weeks already. One other thing to try is to open one of the affected sites and leave it open for a few minutes whilst you open a new tab and look at something else. After you go back, it may have opened normally. I noticed that a few times when it was happening to me.

  7. I sure loved Skippers Canyon, Draco, and am glad I didn’t have to traverse this precarious road. Your photos are gorgeous, and your gift of showing the canyon in past and present is a delight. That walking bridge is crazy!

    • It’s a beautiful place and I hope you have the chance to visit one day.

      It’s funny, but Western culture views Dragons as potentially evil whilst Eastern culture views them as good luck.

      From wikipedia:
      A dragon is a legendary creature, typically scaled or fire-spewing and with serpentine, reptilian or avian traits, that features in the myths of many cultures around world. The two most well-known cultural traditions of dragon are

      The European dragon, derived from European folk traditions and ultimately related to Balkans and Western Asian mythologies. Most are depicted as reptilian creatures with animal-level intelligence, and are uniquely six-limbed (four legs and a separate set of wings).
      The Chinese dragon, with counterparts in Japan, Korea and other East Asian and South Asian countries. Most are depicted as serpentine creatures with above-average intelligence, and are quadrupeds (four legs and wingless).

The Wood Dragon is listening...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.