One does not simply walk into Mordor – or so the saying goes. And while this may be more or less true in the movies, walking into Mordor is actually far from impossible in real life – although perhaps not something for the faint of heart.
Introducing; Tongariro National Park, New Zealand. This enormous volcanic area, situated in the heart of New Zealand’s northern island, presents a perfect simulation of hell on earth, and just so happens to be the filming location for Mordor in Lord of the Rings. With its imposing volcanoes, along with the barren, red-and-black alien landscape, this national park is definitely a sight to be seen. And if you’ve ever wanted to walk into Mordor, this is where you need to go!
As a Lord of the Rings fan myself, and never being one to shy away from a challenge, I decided to test out the old saying about walking into Mordor, and headed out on the adventure of a lifetime. And that’s how a lonely backpacker ended up traveling halfway across the globe and simply walked into Mordor.
Getting to Mordor doesn’t present much of a problem, but as you’re actually standing there and gazing up at the imposing volcanoes in the distance, there will be a moment of hesitation. Is walking into Mordor really such a great idea after all? I ended up deciding that it was, and that’s how I ended up spending five days making my way through the literal hell on earth.
At first, it was just a long march through a rough terrain of thorny, dry bushes which I suppose technically qualifies as “vegetation.” When I finally made it through and out into the open, I was more than relieved – no more thorns tearing up my clothes and skin!
And then the heat hit me. What most people tend to forget is that volcanic landscapes are basically deserts – they’re dry, eroded areas without so much as a hint of shade. The sun scorches you from above, and the rock burns you from below as you make your way through the barren emptiness.
But if you manage to push through the heat for a few days, you will eventually find yourself at the foot of Mount Doom (or Mt. Ngauruhoe, as the locals call it). Of course, they don’t recommend climbing it, but if you’ve come this far into Mordor, you’re not going to let a government recommendation stop you from walking in Frodo’s footsteps.
It doesn’t take long before you quickly realize the mistake you’ve made though, as you keep sliding down the loose rocks and constantly cutting yourself on the razor sharp edges. But at this point, you’re only a few hundred meters (granted, vertical meters) away from the eternal nerd bragging rights of having climbed Mount Doom, and so you soldier on until you reach the very top of the volcano.
And as you’re standing there, gazing out over the red, barren landscape below you and see the other volcanoes in the distance, you can’t help but feel the adrenaline rush of a lifetime as you realize that, holy crap, you’ve just walked into Mordor and climbed Mount Doom!
Now all that’s left are another few days of pushing through the horrors of Mordor on your way back to civilization. But despite all these horrors, it had all been worth it for me. Because even after five days of enduring scorching heat, volcanic dust and a thousand minor cuts, blisters and bruises, I had finally proven that one does, in fact, simply walk into Mordor.