A Lord of the Rings forest with old tree roots, New Zealand.

In the very north of the South Island of New Zealand, on the top of a rocky hill riddled with caves, there lies an ancient beech forest called the Canaan Downs...

The forest is vast, hillocked with stoney outcrops and mired with small mirror pools. I met a thin legged South Island Robin there, and she hopped forward, very close now, till she was just a breath away. Other forms of magic occurred there too: small mushrooms growing in the cleft of a stump, along with the mosses, lichens and ferns adorning every tree bole. 

In the centre of the forest, there is a hole so deep one cannot see the bottom. 

About four days from the enchanted stream they came to a part where most of the trees were beeches. They were at first inclined to be cheered by the change, for here there was no undergrowth and the shadow was not so deep. There was a greenish light about them, and in places they could see some distance to either side of the path. Yet the light only showed them endless lines of straight grey trunks like pillars of some huge twilight hall. There was a breath of air and a noise of wind, but it had a sad sound. Their feet rustled among the leaves of countless other autumns that drifted over the banks of the path from the deep red carpets of the forest.

... a longish way off, it seemed, they saw a red twinkle in the dark; then another, and another sprang out beside it.

After a good deal of creeping and crawling they peered round the trunks and looked into a clearing where some trees had been felled and the ground levelled. There were many people there, elvish-looking folk, all dressed in green and brown... There was a great fire in their midst and there were torches fastened to some of the trees round about; but most splendid sight of all: they were eating and drinking and laughing merrily.

In the Wide World the Wood-elves lingered in the light of our Sun and Moon, but loved best the stars; and they wandered in the great forests that grew tall in lands that are now lost. They dwelt most often by the edges of the woods, from which they could escape at times to hunt, or to ride and run over the open lands by moonlight or starlight; and after the coming of Men they took ever more and more to the gloaming and the dusk. Still elves they were and remain, and that is Good People.

The beeches were their favourite trees.
Trees covered in moss, in the Caanan Downs.
Ferns growing on a fallen tree, in a ray of light.
A South Island robin perched on a tree stump, at the Canaan Downs scenic reserve.
Small brown toadstools growing in a mossy tree bole.


The beech is the yin to the yang of the great oak - having long been depicted as a tree with a feminine spirit and ancient wisdom. That energy of wisdom may, in part, originate from the tree's long entangled history with writing. The ancient beech forests of the British Isles bear witness to their contemporaries thoughts, in the forms of Dendroglyphs: pictographs and letters carved upon their trunks. It was not uncommon, in the later middle ages, for a lover to carve their sets of initials on a beech tree, as Helen of Troy had supposedly done centuries earlier.

Oh Rosalind! These trees shall be my books,
And in their barks my thoughts I’ll character;
That every eye, which in this forest looks,
Shall see thy virtue witness’d every where.

Moreover, the beech tree, called 'bok trees' by the Anglo-Saxons, were often cut into thin sheets to be bound and written upon, thus forming a sturdy sort of book. 

A tree trunk reflected in a mirror pool.
The eye of a slim tree.
An elven forest clearing in New Zealand - Harwood forest, Canaan Downs.
A friendly South Island Robin in the Canaan Downs reserve.
The beautiful elven looking forests of the Canaan Downs.
A mirror mere - a small enchanted pool in Caanan Downs forest.