If you’re a fan of Lord of the Rings, you’ll know that New Zealand is the real-life Middle-earth. The rolling green hills, dramatic mountains, and crystal-clear alpine waters made the perfect backdrop for the movies—and they make for an ideal travel destination, too!
Many of our clients travel to New Zealand just to visit the beautiful locations they’ve seen in the movies. Here are the top 5 Lord of the Rings filming sites in New Zealand that Tolkien buffs won’t want to miss!
Hobbiton Movie Set
Inside a hobbit hole at Hobbiton Movie Set. Image: Tourism New Zealand
See how this beautiful piece of Waikato farmland, featuring spectacular views across the Kaimai Ranges, was transformed into the Shire from Middle-earth. You can follow a guide through the 10-acre site, visiting the unique Hobbit holes and recounting fascinating details of how the Hobbiton Movie Set was created. Make sure to grab a specially brewed beverage at the Green Dragon Inn!
Gollum at the Wellington airport. Image: Wellington Tourism
Mount Victoria is a star attraction in the laid-back, artsy town of Wellington, and this was the filming site of Hobbiton Woods, where Frodo first hid from the Black Riders. The nearby Kaitoke Regional Park became Rivendell, where Frodo recovered from the Nazgul attack and the Fellowship of the Ring was formed. Kaitoke Regional Park is around 1 hour’s drive from Wellington and features native forests and tranquil streams that will transport you to the magical home of Elrond.
Wellington is also home to Peter Jackson’s Weta Workshop, which created props and special effects for the Lord of the Rings films. Weta Workshop fully immerses you with a film tour, perfect for any fan wanting to experience the magic behind the movie!
Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Starkly beautiful scenery in the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Image: Tourism New Zealand
Explore the rugged, volcanic landscape that inspired Mordor and even climb to the top of Mount Doom by walking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing—New Zealand’s best one-day hike! The hike travels 12 miles between the Tongariro and Ngauruhoe summits; we recommend using a guide, especially if you’re making the trek in winter.
Not only is Tongariro an amazing spot for Lord of the Rings fans, but the Tongariro National Park is a dual World Heritage area due to its outstanding natural features and cultural significance. In addition to Mount Doom, one of the highlights is seeing unique volcanic pools colored in otherworldly blue and green hues.
New Zealand movie sites outside of Queenstown. Image: Nomad Safaris
Near Queenstown is the quaint village of Glenorchy, at the northern end of Lake Wakatipu. Here, you can see the northwestern slopes of Mount Earnslaw, which are featured in the opening sequence of The Two Towers. From Glenorchy, you can also discover the filming site of Lothlorien—the stunning beech forest on the road to Paradise.
Nearby in the historic gold mining village of Arrowtown, you can explore the Arrow River, which became the Ford of Bruinen for Lord of the Rings (where the Black Riders were swept into the river while pursuing Frodo). You can also walk to Wilcox Green, which became the Gladden Fields, where the One Ring was lost by Isildur and later discovered by Smeagol. You can discover all of these beautiful film sites on a 4WD or quad bike tour from Queenstown.
Filming site of Edoras for Lord of the Rings. Image: Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism
Nestled in the Ashburton District’s high country, outside the city of Christchurch, sits Mount Sunday—a sheer-sided hill that became the set for Edoras, the main city of the Rohan people. Nothing remains of this set, which took 9 months to build, but the location still has powerful magic. You can park your vehicle on Hakatere Potts Road and walk to the site.
Are you ready to adventure through the land where Lord of the Rings was filmed? Give us a call today at 888-229-0082 or contact us online to let our luxury travel designers handcraft your dream vacation to Middle-earth!
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