Carrots, waterfalls and Gollum

Mangawhero Falls square I have been doing my homework recently on this whole blogging thing, with particular focus on the mystical world of SEO.

SEO, for those of you not in the know (turns out I can rhyme too), is the art of optimising a site so that it is friendly to search engines, and by search engines, I mean Google.

The idea is that people go onto the web searching for something, and as a writer, I pre-emptively figure out what this is, and optimise my posts accordingly.

This, dear readers, is the zenith of that optimisation. Keywords are key, and as you can see (I promise I will stop doing that), I have absolutely filled the title of this post with them. Now I can rest easy, knowing that lord of the rings fans desperate for information on carrot waterfalls will be flocking to the site in droves. Hurrah. Beers all round.

Ok, so perhaps this particular market is somewhat niche. But still. The post title most accurately reflects what I’ve been up to recently, so damn SEO to hell. And now, for an SEO friendly header.


Within an hours drive of my current abode in New Zealand is the town of Ohakune. This has been stuck in my head as a place to visit, mainly because the Lonely Planet describes it as the Carrot capital of New Zealand.

I am sure the Lonely Planet has more to say on the topic of Ohakune, but I was pretty much sold at the carrot point. Largely, I think, because the carrotyness of the place is embodied by a gigantic fibre glass carrot, and I’m becoming a bit of a fan of gigantic tacky objects. As my post featuring the giant L&P bottle of Paeroa attests.

Giant Carrot of Ohakune

The town of Ohakune then. This is around the other side of Mount Ruapehu to us, and it was to here we drove on a gloriously sunny afternoon. The birds were singing, the sky was blue. The carrots were, I expect, veritably busting themselves into orange action as they ripened in the fields.

Ohakune is actually a rather cute little town. It is right near one of the larger North Island ski fields, and it certainly felt like a ski town in the off season. Cute little Swiss style chalets jostled for position with, amongst other things, some yurts.

Overall the town conveyed a sleepy, laid back air as we wandered its streets, gigantic carrot foremost in our minds. And I am pleased to say, it didn’t take too long to find said carrot, displayed prominently as it is at one end of the town. Mount Ruahepu - New Zealand

Happily, we posed for shots with the carrot until we were sated, competing with each other as to who could take the most arty carrot based shot, and then our journey continued, in the search for:


I am a huge fan of waterfalls. Large parts of my travelling time are spent in search of these magnificent creatures. Each one offers up something new and different, as the water cascades down the rocks and spray flies through the air.

Handily for us then, Ohakune is positioned near two waterfalls, Waitonga Falls – the highest in the area – and Mangawhero Falls.

Waterfall next to Waitonga 2

Getting to the Waitonga Falls involves a 4km return walk. This skirts around the foothills of the snow dusted Mount Ruapehu, through alpine forest of gnarled branches and moss; and across boggy areas of ragged grass. There are startlingly clear pools to cross, from which the reflection of the mountain will gaze at you as you amble on by.

Waitonga Falls itself was rather impressive. As well as the main falls themselves, a multitude of other falls carried water down the sides of the gorge and into the river. Some of these were moss lined and drip filled, and the scope for photography was superb. We stayed a while, and soaked it all in.Waterfall in slow motion - Waitonga Falls close up

The second waterfall we visited was Mangawhero Falls. This featured twin streams cascading over the rocks, straight down to a dark pool at the base. Here there were some largely ineffectual safety barriers over which it was necessary to step, to get an actual view of the falls. I was berated for my reckless disregard for my own safety, which seems to happen a lot. I guess I just like standing on the edge of large drops.

It was just near the Mangawhero falls that the third part of the overall puzzle fell into place, that being…


Just around this area, above the Mangawhero falls, is a pool. In this pool, Gollum was filmed catching a fish. i know, this was perhaps not the most momentous occasion from the films or the book, but the poor chap clearly had to eat, and his eating location of choice was one of the pools in this area.

Gollums Pool - well near it - and Mount Ruapehu

I’m not totally convinced I precisely located the exact pool, but I did look at a lot of pools, so I know that the chances are high I did see it. Ok, so this isn’t as exciting as Mount Doom, or Emyn Muil. But the thought is there.

Also in this locality is a spot, excitingly described by New Zealand’s Department of Conservation as being where Sam and Frodo pass a ruined column in a clearing. I was able to contain myself on that one, and not head off into a random bit off forest in search of, well, a random bit of forest.

Mount Taranaki View

Finally, our day out took us right to the top of the Ohakune Mountain Road, where we parked in the giant and deserted Turoa ski field car park. The wind and spellbinding view were our only companions, save for a lonely camper van parked at the other end of the huge dust bowl that formed the car park.

The view from here across the southern half of New Zealand’s North island really was quite inspiring stuff – the ridges of the mountain ranges were as a crinkled up patchwork carpet, wound through with sparkling river threads. Mount Taranaki peeped his head above the clouds on the coast, 180km away.

Well, that is that for todays post. If you did by some amazing chance find this post as a result of searching for carrot waterfalls, well done. You are probably exactly the sort of person I need round here to keep me on the straight and narrow. Check out the various options for keeping up to date with the site, including the wondrous Facebook Page, and the magnificent RSS Feed. Thanks for reading.

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  1. Mangawhero Falls is totally my favorite picture.

  2. I used to live in Raglan! Never did get to see that Carrot though... and you gotta check out Bridal Veil Falls(maybe now called Waireinga Falls) on the road to Rags! damn, I miss NZ!

  3. Amazing photos! I'm so jealous. Also, I love that you're seeking out little bits of Lord of the Rings all over the country. Right up my alley!

    Ohakune is a cool little town. I stayed at a really posh hotel there - the Powerhorn Chateau - where some of the LotR stars lived while they were filming in that area. You can request to sleep in "Orlando's Room", "Elijah's Room," etc. Hilarious.

  4. Thanks Erica :) It's an HDR shot, the light was a bit tricky!

  5. With a name like that, how could I not want to visit! Will have to look
    them up :) Thanks for dropping by.

  6. Compared to other parts of NZ, my current locale doesn't have the sheer
    number of LoTR locations, but it makes up for them in quality, for the
    most part, and I am tenaciously going through them all! Last on my list
    is the Black Gate of Mordor, which is at the wrong end of a 4WD only
    track - stay tuned to see if I make that one...

    I really liked Ohakune, more than I thought I was going to actually.
    It's a great spot for loads of the various locations, so makes sense
    they based themselves there!


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