thomas m wilson

New Zealand and How it Became Middle Earth

March 16th, 2007


I’ve been thinking about New Zealand recently, partly because of a related essay I wrote a while back which is soon to be published. I’m not going to say much about the essay here, but I will say something about the land that is the South Island.

Looking back through my journal I find the following from my time there in 2004:

“Not only seeing nature, but also smelling the wet earth and the fast flowing stream at the bottom of the valley. Further up we passed through a high ridge and looking down on the scene below made me think: well, there is nothing left. It isn’t possible to see any more impressive topography on this blessed planet. D. H. Lawrence said he only felt a deep sense of the religious in his world travels when he arrived in New Mexico. My New Mexico.

Being here, these experiences of green mountain ringed plains, dell-filled beech woods, pine bordered, iridescent lakes, drift wood tossed shores, gives me a grounding in extra-human meaning, meaning outside the realm of human artifacts and social interactions. I’m glad to have had this time, its memory will help me persist through the knocks and setbacks that are endemic to suburban day-to-daying on my return to Perth.”

There is a way in which Wallace Stegner’s comment that ‘a place needs a poet’ is meaningful. Peter Jackson has, in a way, sung these beech woods, and given them added significance. I have a chapter in a book called ‘How We Became Middle Earth’, which is forthcoming later this year. It is out with Walking Tree Press – check it out.


I haven’t taken any good photos of New Zealand… apart from the following one of the farming country near Christchurch. The shades of green in this land are so deep compared to Australia!


Although I don’t have a great gallery of New Zealand photography, I can direct you to a few photos taken by others. These photos will give you some idea of what I’m talking about.
The river flows

The clouds drift

Mt Cook stands guard

Now look into the lake, and wash away your mental clutter…