From the stark and beautiful volcanic plateau to the snow-capped mountains of Queenstown, New Zealand’s diverse scenery forms an idyllic backdrop for Sir Peter Jackson’s take on the J.R.R Tolkien epic, The Lord of The Rings and Hobbit trilogies. With more than 150 locations across the country used in the shooting of all six films, Kiwiland has taken on the new identity of ‘Middle Earth’. And although entirely fictional, it has become a very real part of our culture today. So for the ultimate Hobbit experience, be sure to visit these key filming locations and work in other attractions around them.
Beginning in Auckland, take a short drive through rolling hills and lush farmland to Matamata where you'll see Hobbiton, The Shire. Located on a private dairy farm, the fully intact set has been left ‘as is’ and features Bag-end, hobbit holes, the Green Dragon Inn and the Party Tree. Take a two hour guided tour to gain insight into the filming.
The Volcanic Plateau and Taupo
Continue through to the Tongariro National Park. This wild and dramatic part of New Zealand was used extensively in both the trilogies and its barren blasted landscape formed the Dark Lord Sauron’s stronghold, Mordor. an active volcano, Mt Ngauruhoe was the inspiration for Mt Doom, and many scenes were filmed on its slopes. Take the Tongariro Alpine Crossing to be immersed in the heart of ‘Mordor’ and head into the Rangipo desert to see where the many of the Orc army scenes were shot.
Take a slight detour before you arrive in Wellington to the visit Putangirua Pinnacles, the setting for eerie Dimholt Road and Paths of the Dead. Heading down to the southernmost point of the North Island, our capital city is a must on your tour of Middle Earth. Home to Weta Workshop - the design and effects facility behind the films, you will have the opportunity to tour the Weta Cave and see real-life characters, props and actual displays used during the making of Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit. Venture to the outskirts of the city for a glimpse of more location shots including The Shire at Mt Victoria, the encampment of Dunharrow and the hidden refuge of Rivendell.
At the top of the south, Nelson is home to Jens Hansen, the goldsmith responsible for creating the 40 different rings used in production. One original ring is on display, and copies can be brought in both 9ct and 18ct gold. Visit Mt Owen to see Dimrill Dale, where the fellowship escape Moira. Continue on to the rugged Canterbury high country for a look at Mt Sunday, the capital of Rohan and home to Meduseld, the hall of King Theoden. This set took over 9 months to build exclusively by helicopter - and although very little of it remains now it boasts soaring views of the countryside below.
Further South, head into Skippers Canyon to view the site where Arwen summoned a magical, flood. Follow the road to Glenorchy, only 40 mins outside of Queenstown. You’ll have a chance to see the Misty Mountains and the Ithilien Camp. Hop aboard a helicopter to view the snowy slopes of Dimrill Dale, the gates of Khazad-dum and the forest of Fanghorn. The final scenes for ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ were filmed here at Mavora lakes, Closeburn, and Paradise.
With countless New Zealand locations used in the filming of Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit, the above is merely a snapshot. There are many other side trips you can take to obscure sites, the hardest part - trying to fit them all in! So if you want to truly immerse yourself in the beauty of Middle Earth, start here and work out what else you can see later. If you're in need of a helping hand, contact one of our experienced travel specialists to put together a unique, personalised, Lord of The Rings and Hobbit self-drive tour and make your next vacation the trip of a lifetime.