New Zealand Lord of the Rings Locations
When Kiwi movie maker Peter Jackson was faced with scouting locations for his big-screen interpretation of JRR Tolkien's The Lord of The Rings, it was an easy choice to turn to his homeland for inspiration. Two hugely successful movie trilogies later and New Zealand's dramatic landscapes have become synonymous with Tolkien's Middle Earth.
Over 150 locations throughout the country were used to film both The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit, many of which are instantly recognisable and easily accessible. Visit the location of Edoras and the plains of the people of Rohan (near Christchurch – South Island), or the site of Rivendell – home of Elrond (Wellington – North Island). And these are just the start. We’ve spoken to our Flight Centre Travel Experts and found the best New Zealand Lord of the Rings locations, perfect for satisfying your inner hobbit:
Matamata, North Island
Take a trip to the Shire and walk among the hobbit holes of Hobbiton in Matamata. If you’re a lover of the Tolkien/Jackson movie franchise, exploring the 12 acres of lush pastures that make up this enchanting village inspires feelings of nostalgia – as if you’ve been here in another life. Grab a pint of traditional Southfarthing ale from the Green Dragon Inn, enjoy a buffet lunch in the Party Marquee or stop to admire the Mill.
Remember to ask your Flight Centre Travel Expert to arrange your tickets in advance for this one, as tickets can often sell out. Regular tours depart from Matamata, Rotorua, and we can also arrange transfers from Auckland.
Wellington, North Island
Mount Victoria is by far the easiest filming location to reach as it is within walking distance of Wellington city centre. It is the wooden area that played the role of Hobbiton Woods, where the young hobbits hide from the black riders. It's also a great spot for a beautiful view over the city – which is also home to the legendary Weta Workshop. Here, in the Weta Cave, you can geek out over all the props from the trilogies, immersing yourself in the memorabilia that made them possible. Props, weapons and costumes for District 9, The Chronicles of Narnia, and several other blockbusters can also be found here.
To glimpse the beauty and majesty of Rivendell, head for Kaitoke Regional Park, while a drive up the west coast to Queen Elizabeth Park reveals the spot where the Battle of the Pelennor Fields took place.
And then there’s the dramatic Putangirua Pinnacles – just a short drive away in the Wairarapa region. This is where Aragon, Legolas and Gimli walked in Return of the King, when they were seeking out the Paths of the Dead.
Tongariro National Park, North Island
Tongariro is the oldest national park in New Zealand, best known for its breathtaking mountain landscapes, vibrant green and blue lakes and the popular Tongariro Crossing, a particularly scenic hike which takes around a day.
You can tramp, cycle, helicopter and even ski in this majestic national park but, for any Lord of the Rings fan, the real highlight is following in Frodo’s footsteps and climbing Mount Ngauruhoe – aka Mount Doom. This perfect cone stratovolcano (one of three in the park) acted as a stand-in for the gloomy Mordor peak in the movies. In reality though, the hike to the summit offers beautiful, uplifting vistas, especially if you catch it at sunset or sunrise.
Nelson Tasman, South Island
Want to get your hands on ‘My Precious’? Well in Nelson Tasman you can see it on display in Jens Hansen goldsmiths, the store that created the 40 (one) rings used in the film. The jeweller even offers 9ct and 18ct gold replicas for you to buy and take home – the ultimate souvenir; no wrestling with Gollum required.
If you’re a big fan of Strider/Aragon (who isn’t?), head over Takaka Hill to discover Bree’s Chetwood Forest, the fictional spot where he helped Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin flee from the Black Riders.
The Southern Lakes, South Island
Water and mountains – with their drama and beauty – understandably feature heavily in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies. The northern end of Lake Wakatipu, along with Mount Earnslaw, had a starring role in the opening sequence of The Two Towers, while Arrowtown (near Queenstown) is where you’ll find the Ford of Bruinen. This breathtaking river location is where Arwen dramatically saved a withering Frodo from the Black Riders before taking him to Rivendell.
For a bird’s eye view of Middle Earth in all its glory, head for the summit of Mount Cardona.
Fiordland National Park, South Island
Remember that intense scene in the first film, where the Fellowship paddled down the Anduin River, dwarfed by two giant statues? You can see this exact spot along the Waiau River, between Te Anau and Manapouri. The statues were all CGI sadly, but the towering rocky landscapes will give you a true feel for the scene.
Also near Te Anau you’ll find the real-life Fangorn Forest. Mountains, lakes, fjords and forest – Fiordland National Park was the perfect double for this mythical region Tolkien dreamt up.