A couple weeks ago Karl and I took a trip through Mt. Aspiring National Park, up and over Haast Pass, which was named for the geologist who traveled through the area in the 19th century… Good ol’ Julius also has a bird named after him, and not just any bird: the giant Haast’s Eagle, which sadly went extinct about the time Joan of Arc was getting burned at the stake on the other side of the world.
(Haast’s Eagles were not on the scale of the Gwaihir and the other mega-eagles in LOTR, but they were pretty dang big, pushing the limits of the physics of flight and so dang meaty that it’s theorized they hunted by sitting high in a tree and dropping down on their prey rather than actively flying. I’ve seen models of them in various museums here and they look like they’re almost giant albatross size. It’s been proven through fossil records that they hunted moa. Yeah, even the nine foot tall giant moa.)
The Mount Aspiring area was used heavily for LOTR locations, specifically standing in for the Misty Mountains and also for shots of the Fellowship walking, which they did a lot of, if you recall.
When Karl and I visited, the weather over Haast Pass was a bit iffy, but the rugged beauty of the land still comes through.