I’ve long been a Tolkien tragic. Since my teenage years I have probably read Tolkien’s trilogy more than ten times. Even though a few characters may have a dated, even stilted, feel to them, some of them still feel as real as people in my life. Heck, I even agreed to have “Gaffer” as my grandfather name!
[Welcome to "Middle Earth", near Mavora Lakes]
Mavora Lakes – there’s a South Mavora Lake and a North Mavora Lake – fill part of the glacier-carved Mararoa River valley, which runs roughly north/south out of the Livingstone Mountains. The lakes are not obscure to South Island trampers, campers and hunters, given the range of activities they have to offer. And since the area became a hotspot for crucial LOTR scenes, they have also become part of the fabric of Middle Earth.
[A deadly fly agaric mushroom might not be all that lurks in this forest!]
[Lunching by North Mavora Lake]
[Beech forest, Mavora Lakes]
All of this is a vastly more complex, and often more marvellous story than the fictional one that drew us here over Easter. In part it is a tragedy, given how much forest has gone, and how many birds have succumbed to introduced pests. But it’s also a story that continues. And given how long “Fangorn” has lasted, it’s a story that’s still filled with hope.