Mt. Sunday is not one of New Zealand’s Great Walks and the only reason its in most guide books is due to its association with Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings. However, there is something magical in store for those who go there.
After what seems like an eternity on the underdeveloped access road, the glory that surrounds Mt. Sunday begins to peek over the horizon. Further and further you drive down the rabbit hole until finally the sign for Mt. Sunday appears.
You breathe the fresh air and with the bang of a car door you are transported to a scene that is hard to believe still exists in this hectic world. It resembles every story and every fantasy you had as a child. This is where your imagination would take you as you played in your back yard and quickly that same innocence is brought back. At Mt. Sunday you have no worries, you don’t owe anything to anyone and for the first time in a long time you can just be.
After the short walk with nothing more than a few curious cows looking your way, you reach the top of Mt. Sunday. The snow-capped mountains surround you on every side and make you feel as though you are safe from the chaos in the outside world. You want to take a picture but a sense of guilt washes over you for taking anything from this place. Still, you realize that no picture could ever truly capture the magic that surrounds you so you just sit. For five minutes, or five hours, it doesn’t quite seem long enough. It gets inside of you and changes you as if seeing this place awakened a part of your brain that has lain dormant for some time.
Eventually you peel yourself off the hill and meander back to your car. And slowly you drive back towards civilization, hoping that this place will make one last attempt to stop you, but it doesn’t and you keep moving towards wherever it is you came from.
The number of cars on the road grows and you begin to pass through towns but it isn’t long before you realize that something from Mt. Sunday is still holding on. Its hope, but it’s different than any you have felt before. It's a memory and it's an opportunity. It's a vision of potential. It is happiness.
© Michael Adler