From the green fields of The Shire through to the imposing peaks of Mordor, New Zealand plays host to many of the key destinations featured throughout the film adaptations of J.R.R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies. Filmed across the country’s North and South Islands, there are plenty of scenic, spectacular and iconic sites perfect for setting out on a Tolkien themed adventure.
Retrace Sam and Frodo’s arduous journey to Mordor within the boundaries of Tongariro National Park. Home to desert-like plateaus, active volcanos and fantastic scenery, New Zealand’s oldest national park provided the backdrop to one of the Lord of the Rings trilogy’s most iconic story arcs, the destruction of ‘the one ring’. Standing in for Tolkien’s Mount Doom, Mount Ngauruhoe, an active volcano, is an imposing landform that dominates the park’s landscaped.
Situated near Wellington, the Kaitoke Regional Park played the part of Rivendell’s setting. While the Elven outpost was digitally added into the scenery of the Kaitoke Regional Park, the park’s stunning landscapes are more than enough reason to plan a visit.
Stop by the Hobbiton Movie Set, found near Matamata, to see the iconic buildings of The Shire. From The Green Dragon Inn and The Mill through to the round doors of Hobbit Holes, the set is a great way to see a number of Hobbit sites in a single afternoon.
The backdrop to Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli’s ride to meet the Army of the Dead during the Return of the King, the Putangirua Pinnacles are a fascinating rock formation well suited to the Tolkien universe. Walking tracks winding their way past the Putangirua Pinnacles are a great way to see the unique natural formation.
One of The Fellowship of the Ring’s most quotable moments, the scene where Arwen yells “You want him? Come and claim him!” was staged at Shotover River near Arrowtown. Featuring the Witch-king of Angmar, the scene featured Liv Tyler’s character summoning waters to sweep him away and keep Frodo safe.
Also featured in the first film of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the island’s Southern Alps filled in for the Misty Mountains of Middle Earth. The longest and highest mountains in New Zealand, the Southern Alps were passed through by the fellowship during one of the first stages of their journey.
Situated in the island’s south, the Dart River Valley provided the ideal spot for the fortress of Isengard and the black tower of Orthanc to be imagined, designed and digitally added into the film. Surrounded by spectacular snow capped peaks, the valley provided the perfect setting for Saruman’s one time prison.
Set within the Fiordland National Park, Kepler Mire acted as the perfect backdrop to the scene where Gollum guided Frodo and Sam through the Dead Marshes during the second installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Follow the Kepler track to soak up great views of the park, and even recreate the trio’s trek past ghostly underwater beings.
Whether you’re looking to recreate some of your favourite scenes or simply soak up the beauty of New Zealand, you’ll find plenty of fantastic destinations to visit across the country. Why not book a cheap flight, find some comfy accommodation and see The Shire, Mordor and more of Middle Earth come to life.