Visit Middle Earth – Your Lord of the Rings Location Guide
New Zealand is Middle Earth. As the filming location for The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, you can walk with the elves, orcs and hobbits in magical landscapes around the country. Make a pilgrimage to Hobbiton, climb the Devil’s Staircase to Mordor or explore Fangorn Forest on foot; it’s all right on your doorstep in New Zealand.
Step into some of cinema’s most epic scenes with our guide to visiting Lord Of The Rings sets and locations around New Zealand…
Mordor and Mount Doom – Tongariro National Park
Boromir might warn that “One does not simply walk into Mordor”, but you actually can. Welcome to Tongariro National Park, where dramatic sweeping landscapes, ancient volcanoes and emerald crater lakes stood in for the dark and eerie land of Mordor.
The Tongariro Crossing is considered one of the world’s best one day hikes, and will take you through desolate rocky slopes to the Devil’s Staircase and the looming peak of Mount Doom (Mt Ngauruhoe).
Just like its fictional counterpart, the summit of Mt Ngauruhoe is treacherous to ascend, and it’s sacred to the local Iwi so we recommend you stick to Tongariro for this Lord Of The Rings location.
Hobbiton – Matamata
Hobbiton is the only remaining movie set from The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings, and you’ll find it in the rolling green hills of Matamata. Take a tour around the 44 hobbit holes constructed for The Hobbit Trilogy, before slaking your thirst and sharing tales over a Southfarthing ale (or ginger beer) at the cosy Green Dragon Inn.
Our tip: Tours can be busy with up to 50 people, so we recommend booking an early bird tour. These tours are the first or second tours of the day, when Hobbiton is less crowded.
Peter Jackson knows how to pick a majestic Lord Of The Rings film location. Hidden deep between the mountain cliffs of Hakatere Conservation Park is Mount Sunday, where the film set for Edoras once sat.
These days the city of the Horse Lords of Rohan is gone, and bridges over the meandering rivers are the only structures interrupting the rugged South Island landscape (You’ll appreciate them, as the sparkling rivers are icy cold!). Follow worn paths through the glacier-carved valley from Hakatere Potts Road and you’ll be standing atop Mount Sunday in around 30 minutes.
Weta Workshop, Rivendell, Hobbiton Woods, The Gardens of Isengard, Pelennor Fields and Osgiliath – Wellington
Windy Wellington offers a plethora of Lord Of The Rings locations.
Follow Gandalf and Saruman’s steps through the Gardens of Isengard at Harcourt Park, or visit Kaitoke Regional Park for the archway into Rivendell. Explore Mount Victoria to find the forked tree where Frodo and Sam first made camp in the Hobbiton Woods.
Leave Wellington city for a drive up the west coast to Queen Elizabeth Park, where the Nazgul and Mumakil were filmed for the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. Further up the coast is Waitarere Forest, which stood in for the mossy expanse of Osgiliath Wood.
Wellington didn’t just star in the Lord Of The Rings, it MADE them. Visit the Weta Cave at Weta Studio where the incredible props, costumes, make-up, and special effects for Lord Of The Rings were created.
Dimholt Road to the Paths of the Dead – Putangirua Pinnacles
Discover the looming rock walls of ‘Dimholt Road’ in the wild Wairarapa region. Hike along the Putangirua Pinnacles track to this impressive geological formation, and you’ll be able to spot the areas where Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli rode as they searched for the entrance to the Paths of the Dead in Return Of The King. Reaching this Lord Of The Rings location requires a challenging hike that can take 2-4 hours in total so be prepared and wear good hiking boots!
The River Anduin, Dimrill Dale and Amon Hen – Cardrona Valley
This is one Lord Of The Rings superfans will appreciate! Take in a panoramic view of Middle Earth from the summit of the Crown Range in Cardrona. To your left flows the Kawarau River, the location for the River Anduin and the (digitally added) Pillars of the Argonath. Look straight ahead to glimpse Dimrill Dale, and past it to Amon Hen on the shore of Nen Hithoel in the distance.
Follow the Crown Range Road into Cardrona Valley and you can drive all the way up to the lookout point.
Fangorn Forest – The Milford Track
Welcome to the magical Milford Sound, the location of Fangorn Forest in The Two Towers.
Explore thundering waterfalls, ancient rainforest and keep an eye out for wildlife as the Milford Track – one of New Zealand’s ‘Great Walks’ and a national favourite – leads you to the remote Milford Sound. Looking up at the enormous trees it’s easy to imagine the Ents feeling right at home.
Hikes through this Lord Of The Rings location range from one to five days, and while you can walk it on your own, it’s recommended that less experienced hikers take a guided trek.
Whether you visit just one Lord Of The Rings location or all of them, we’ve got your home away from home sorted. From cosy baches for one or two dwarves, to large villas for a family of hobbits, or luxury hideaways fit for elves, you’re sure to find the perfect accommodation for your adventure.