Lord Of The Rings – Queenstown Shooting Locations
New Zealand native Peter Jackson filmed nearly every scene of the Lord Of The Rings trilogy here. Why? Because New Zealand has some of the most stunning scenery in the world, so stunning that it seems a fantasy. Tourists flock to New Zealand, inspired by the movies. The good news is, you don’t have to travel across the globe to enjoy the stunning scenery and spots immortalized in the trilogy–they’re right here in your backyard.
The movies were filmed on both the North and South Islands, with filming locations dotted all over the New Zealand map. But it’s on the South Island that you’ll find the most recognizable and majestic scenery. Queenstown is a great place to base a LOTR tour. From this small town, you can head in any direction and find lots of movie sites. Jackson and company spent an impressive 18 months filming near Queenstown, capturing all sorts of Middle-earth scenery during every season.
Of course, touring this part of the South Island isn’t just about the Lord of the Rings films. The scenery is gorgeous, and while scouting movie locations is fun, no one can deny that these views are worthy of an epic film. So pack a picnic and some ale for your elevenses, grab a wizard friend, and head out on an adventure or two!
Queenstown Lord Of The Rings Guide – See the Misty Mountains
The fictional Misty Mountains are a significant backdrop for many epic scenes in the films. But where exactly are the Misty Mountains? The answer gets a bit complicated.
Jackson used many locations as stand-ins for his fictional mountain range. You have to look at each scene in the movie separately and figure out where it was filmed.
North of Queenstown in Mount Aspiring National Park, you’ll find the sites of many film settings. Many White and Misty Mountain scenes were filmed at Mount Aspiring. You can see the spot where Boromir found the ring, and Mount Aspiring is the centerpiece of the first film’s opening scene. The Fellowship walked through snow in the Misty Mountains right here. It’s truly an inspiring vista!
One of the most iconic views in Queenstown is of The Remarkables, the snow-capped peaks to the south of town. Jackson didn’t miss The Remarkables and used them for several different locations throughout the films.
It’s said that he renamed them “The Expandables” because he found so many Middle-earth locations that they could stand in for. They were part of Mordor, shown in the exodus of Rohan, and Dimrill Dale, to name a few. Head to The Remarkables Ski Area for the best scenery.
Northbound – Queenstown to Glenorchy Drive
The area around Queenstown features some of the most incredible scenery in the world. But don’t take our word for it–Peter Jackson thought so, too. Many majestic backdrops from the films are near the town.
The best way to see the Lord Of The Rings scenery and scenes is to do a driving tour. Start by heading west on the road to Glenorchy. The drive is considered one of the most beautiful drives in the world. The route follows the edge of Lake Wakatipu and goes past many recognizable scenes from the movies.
The 12 Mile Delta is clearly signposted and is an excellent first stop. This spot depicted Ithlilen in the movies, where Sam spied the Oliphants of Harad. Gollum, Sam, and Frodo looked over the battle with the Rangers of Gondor here.
You can enjoy a hike and take in the expansive views of Lake Wakatipu. It’s also an excellent place for elevenses or luncheon.
Follow the road to the small town of Glenorchy, which was overrun by orcs during filming. It’s 46 kilometers north of Queenstown, right on the shore of Lake Wakatipu. Along the way, you’ll see Mount Earnslaw towering over the lake. The mountain was used as part of the Misty Mountains.
The Dead Marshes were filmed at two locations, one here in Glenorchy and one in Te Anau. It’s here that Sam and Frodo are led by Gollum towards Mordor.
Just past Glenorchy, where the Dart River spills into Lake Wakatipu, is an area known as the Dart River Valley. This is Isengard, and one of the most recognizable locations. It’s likely time for afternoon tea, and this spot makes the perfect setting.
If you continue past town and head for the village of Paradise, you’ll see the setting of Lothlorien. Paradise Forest belongs to elf queen Galadriel. It’s here that the orcs killed Boromir and where Merry and Pippin were captured. So keep your guard up as you travel these lands.
The road to Paradise is rutted and rough, and four-wheel drive is recommended. If your dinner and supper at risk, consider signing up with a tour guide to save your car and get the inside scoop on these spots farther north!
East of Queenstown – Land of the Elves
The Kawarau River carves its way east from Queenstown. Here, you’ll find Argonath on the Anduin River. It takes a little imagination since they used CGI to add the giant statues that stole the scene. But the area is gorgeous even without the Pillars of the Kings, with wineries and the famous Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge.
A bit north of that site is Arrowtown, with the Arrow River. This is the Ford of Bruinen, where Arwen sent the flood to defeat Nazgul.
South of Town – In The Shadows of the Misty Mountains
Deer Park Heights sits at the foot of the Misty Mountains, err–The Remarkables. This small site was where Jackson set many scenes, such as the escape from Rohan and where Gandalf rode towards Gondor.
When you visit in person, you’ll be surprised how small this spot is. Jackson made it look like they walked for mile upon epic mile, but in reality, the actors walked in circles around a small area.
You can visit the scene where Legolas sees the wargs in the distance. You’ll find the rock wall where a warg kills a Rider of Rohan in The Two Towers. You can hike up the hill where Legolas arrives on the scene, kills the murderous warg, and returns to warn the rest of the Rohans.
You can also visit the location where they filmed the battle between the Rohans and the orcs and wargs. The scene where Aragorn gets dragged over a cliff was filmed here.
You can see the rocky location where the exit from the Paths of the Dead was filmed for The Return of the King. Finally, you can see the location from that movie where Gandolf and Pippin were filmed riding to Minas Tirith.
Sidetrip – Milford Sound
If you’ve got the time during your Queenstown stay, a trip over to Milford Sound is worth the effort. It’s here the Jackson filmed the Fangorn Forest, the land of the Ents.
But the scenery in the Sound is impressive beyond measure, with steep mountains jutting out of the glacier-cut fiord.
One Queenstown Lord Of The Rings Guide To Rule Them All
If you’re all in on the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies, check out the Glenorchy Lord of the Rings tour offered by Nomad Safaris. For an in-depth DIY Queenstown Lord Of The Rings Guide, check out Ian Brodie’s LOTR guidebooks. They are used by locals and tourists alike to find even the most out-of-the-way spots.
No matter how you want to go on your adventure, make sure you’ve got a safe hobbit-hole to call your own. Check out Bachcare’s Queenstown listings, where you’ll find the perfect place from which to explore Middle-earth.