New Zealand is home to every landscape you’ll find in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy (and some of the Hobbit Trilogy, too.) If you consider yourself a Lord of the Rings nerd, then you probably don’t need much convincing to spend your next holiday here.
If you aren’t a nerd, you will still be blown away by the stunning landscapes and scenery that you’ll only find in New Zealand.
Whether you want to spend 2 weeks devouring all the details of Hobbiton, or you want a rough outline to exploring all that New Zealand has to offer - rent a car and tour around the country to these iconic places from the Lord of the Rings movies.
Matamata is the actual, real life Shire.
Okay, it’s a movie set, not real life... But if you visit Matamata in the Waikato region, you can still see some of the Hobbit holes and even the party tree.
This region of the North Island is covered by rolling green hills and is the main agricultural district of the country. It’s peaceful and serene, which made it the perfect place for our big-footed friends (the Hobbits) to call home.
It’s become one of the entire country's biggest tourist attractions.
The Taupo Region
In the Lord of Rings movies, Mt Doom is on the far side of Middle Earth from the Shire, but in reality the Taupo region is inside of the Waikato region of the North Island. Mt. Doom and the Shire are neighbors.
The movies sure would’ve been shorter if they didn’t have to do all that walking.
The Taupo Region is home to the famous Tongariro Crossing, often called the best day hike in the country. Along this day hike you’ll see volcanoes, lava flows and The Emerald Lakes. You can even climb the exact volcano that Sam and Frodo climbed to destroy the ring in the Return of the King.
If you’re being dragged along this tour, or just can’t handle any more Lord of the Rings talk, this region is also home to world class ski lodges and hiking.
Wellington is the capital of New Zealand, and the last stop on the North Island Lord of the Rings Tour, and it has a ton to offer. For starters, it was named the Best Little Capital in the World by Lonely Planet. By all accounts Wellington is the cultural capital of country, thanks to world-class restaurants, attractions and wineries.
In and around Wellington, many scenes from Lord of the Rings were shot. For starters, one of Wellington’s best attractions - Mount Victoria - is within walking distance of downtown Wellington.
Mount Victoria is a forested park that reaches elevations of 196 meters and offers the best views of the city. The forests here were used to film the Hobbiton Woods, where the Hobbits hid from the black riders in The Fellowship of the Ring.
Mount Victoria is also responsible for this iconic shot of the city:
Weta Workshop may not be a film location, but it’s perhaps more important in making Tolkien’s books come to life. The studio is the special effects and props studio that is responsible for all the costumes, armor, sets, miniatures, and weapons for the movies.
While visiting Wellington, you can take a tour of the studio and see how a workshop makes props for one of the most visually appealing movie trilogies on Middle-Earth.
Near by Wellington you’ll find a number of other places that served as locations for the movies. From the Hutt River, which became the River Anduin in the movies, the Harcourt Park, which is transformed into one of the movie’s most memorable locations - the Gardens of Isengard.
And finally you’ll find Kaitoke Regional Park, which transformed into Rivendell, the elf capital that served as the spot where the original Fellowship was formed.
The Nelson Region of New Zealand is all about natural beauty. The region is the Northernmost region of the South Island, and it’s also the sunniest. It’s covered in untouched forests and beaches - making it a great place to visit and a film an epic adventure movie.
Among the many National Parks that exist in Nelson, you’ll find Abel Tasman National Park. Here, Takaka Hill is the location where Chetwood Forest was shot in the trilogy. You’ll also find locations for certain shots of Rivendell and Dimrill Dale.
From the alps to the beaches, Canterbury is New Zealand's perfect location for alpine forests and Middle-Earth Battles.
You’ll recognize Mount Sunday as the location for Edoras and Meduseld. Mount Sunday is high in the Southern Alps. It takes over two hours to drive there from the nearest city - Christchurch.
The Southern Alps are no joke. They’re the largest mountains in the southeastern Hemisphere, and are even bigger than the more famous European Alps. These Mountains are the main attraction in the region for both Lord of the Rings lovers and the family members they drag along with them.
The Alps themselves stretch far beyond Canterbury, and were used quite a bit in the films. One of the trilogies more famous landscapes - the Misty Mountains - was filmed throughout the Southern Alps.
Also within the Southern Alps is Lindi’s Pass, an Alpine region used to film Fangorn Forest, where the last Ent’s on Middle Earth lived in the movies. If that sounded like gibberish, the Ents are the large tree-people that help Gandalf and the hobbits in the second and third movies.
Lindis Pass is actually a must do for any visitor to New Zealand, and is well known as one of the best hikes in the country.
Queenstown and Wanaka
Finally we reach the Southern part of the South Island. Wanaka is a town in the Central Otago region - known in New Zealand for many things, including being the hottest up and coming wine region in the country.
Lake Wanaka is a special place for the Lord of The Rings movies. It’s the backdrop for the flight that Gandalf with Gwaihir after his rescue from Orthanc. The area was also used as location for scenes of the River Anduin, Golden Plain, Lothlorien, Dimrill Dale, and the Pillars of the Argonath.
Nearby, the region of Queenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand. Here you’ll find the best place to stay on your Lord of the Rings Adventure, as well as some of the best wineries and restaurants in the Pacific.