Calling all Lord of the Rings fans! Come and discover Middle Earth, aka New Zealand – land of the long white cloud AND where the famous J.R.R. Tolkien ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy was filmed. Incredibly, the trilogy was shot simultaneously and entirely throughout New Zealand at over 150 locations between October 1999 until December 2000. With towering mountains, flowing rivers and lush fields, New Zealand was easily transformed into Middle Earth.
1. Hobbiton – Matamata
In the heart of the mighty Waikato region, you’ll find Hobbiton which is home to the Shire. In 1998, an aerial search had location scouts spot the Alexander farm with its rolling hills and green pastures. In particular, there was a pine tree that sat above a nearby lake next to a hill – which became the perfect spot for Bag End (Bilbo Baggins’ home)! It took nine months to build and deck out the Shire for filming; nowadays, Hobbiton is open to the public for a magical tour that will take you on an easy walk past many of the forty-four reconstructed Hobbit Holes. Finish up at The Green Dragon Inn for a (local) beverage with your fellow ‘hobbits’.
2. Edoras – Mount Sunday
Mount Sunday was the site of Edoras in ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers’. Take a short walk up Mount Sunday for a 360° view across the seemingly never-ending landscapes of the Rangitata River and surrounding mountains of Canterbury, and feel just like one of the riders of Rohan. The hill got its name because boundary riders from the nearby high-country stations would meet here on Sundays.
3. Isengard – Paradise, Glenorchy
Yes, there is an actual place called Paradise in New Zealand – and once you visit, you’ll see why! About an hour out of Queenstown and just near Glenorchy, you’ll find the location of Isengard, Saruman’s tower. This was seen in the ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring’ when Gandalf rides to Isengard.
4. Mount Doom – Mount Ngauruhoe
Get up close and personal with Mount Doom by recreating Frodo and Sam’s journey through Mordor as you complete the famous Tongariro Crossing! This walk is definitely one to put on your bucket list as it takes you through a variety of ever-changing landscapes. If you’re feeling ambitious, add on the hike to summit Mount Ngauruhoe (Doom). It’s still an active stratovolcano in the Tongariro volcanic complex, having first erupted about 2,500 years ago.
5. Rivendell – Kaitoke Regional Park, Wellington
Less than an hour out of Wellington’s central city, you’ll find Kaitoke Regional Park. Filled with native bush, softly babbling rivers and light that filters through the treetops, you can see exactly why this lush park was turned into the magical elven realm of Rivendell.
6. Gondor – Twizel
Say hello to Gondor! Mackenzie country’s grassy plains an iconic New Zealand scene. As you wander amongst the grassy plains of Twizel, you’re sure to feel like you’re right there for the final Battle of the Pelennor Fields in ‘The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King’. Bring out your inner geek and find the exact battle location with a local guide on a One Rings Tour.
7. Anduin River – Kawarau Gorge, Queenstown
Featured in the first movie, the Fellowship of the Ring paddled down the Anduin River (or, Kawarau Gorge in this case) and were greeted by the enormous statues that sat on either side of the river. Even though these statues were added in post-production, Kawarau Gorge is still a stunning location. You can start walks of various lengths along the gorge from the Kawarau Bungy Jump Bridge to explore this area of New Zealand.