Lonely Planet Writer

This photographer let Gandalf be his guide through the gorgeous landscapes of New Zealand

If you’re on a road trip through the gorgeous landscapes of New Zealand, who better to guide you than Gandalf? That was the plan for photographer Akhil Suhas, who captured his travels through the country with the beloved Lord of the Rings character.

Suhas is a 21-year-old student from India, who has been studying at the University of Auckland since 2013. He just graduated and decided to travel for six-months around the beautiful country he’s been calling home.

As he travelled, he realised that the best way to give scale to the stunning and expansive landscapes in New Zealand would be to have a person in the photos. He told Lonely Planet that the idea to have a Gandalf lookalike came to him after “watching the Lord of the Rings for the 5th time”, as the film series was shot in the country.

Since he was travelling with a friend for two months, he had someone ready to put on the Gandalf garb. When he was on his own, he would strike up a conversation with people, explain his project and ask them if they’d like to dress up. “Luckily, not a single person said no as they must’ve realised that if you’re in Middle Earth, might as well live the fantasy of being Gandalf”. He tagged his photos with #GandalfTheGuide.

Suhas covered 15,000 kilometres over six months and saw a lot of the country along the way. When it comes to the best thing he saw, he says it’s the sunset at the Pouakai Tarns at Mount Taranaki, where he captured the perfect reflection of the snow-capped mountain.  

Currently, he doesn’t have any more travel plans, as he’s going to start job-hunting, but Suhas does plan to explore Auckland when he’s free, and with any luck, he’ll document it on his Instagram

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