Welcome To Middle-Earth

If you’re familiar with characters like Bilbo Baggins and Frodo, then there’s a good chance that you’re a fan of films like Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. The director of these films, Peter Jackson, loved the landscape of New Zealand so much that he filmed the entirety of these films in this country. Although some of the filming locations are spread throughout New Zealand, they can all be easily visited if you have your own car for the journey. Car rental New Zealand is more affordable than you might expect, and will give you the freedom and flexibility to see the dozens of Lord of the Rings-related attractions and locations in both the North and South Islands. Here are some of the top spots in “Middle Earth” that you definitely won’t want to miss.

Middle-Earth Locations, New Zealand

Hobbiton and Bag End

The Hobbit Locations: Hobbiton

The Hobbit Locations: Hobbiton | (cc) Photo By Rob Chandler (Rob & Jules)

For the filming of Lord of the Rings, the charming and diminutive town of Hobbiton was built to show where the hobbits lived. Although it was originally dismantled after filming, it was rebuilt for The Hobbit and now stands as one of the permanent New Zealand attractions. You can visit delightful sites such as the mill, the Green Dragon Inn and the Party Tree, but the main attraction is undoubtedly Bag End. The unmistakable round windows of the hobbit home is an incredible treat for anyone who recognizes one of these hobbit locations from the beloved films. The shire region is constructed in the town of Matamata just outside of Lake Waikato, and it can be reached by a two-hour drive from Auckland.

Weta Cave

Weta Cave New Zealand

Weta Cave | (cc) Photo By Kristina D. C. Hoeppner

While this is not one of the Lord of the Rings locations, it is a must-see destination in New Zealand for anyone with a love of the LOTR Trilogy. Weta is the digital effects production company that worked on the films in the city of Wellington, and they have an area known as the Weta Cave that visitors can tour at no cost. You will have the chance to see props from the films, full-size replicas of the characters, and even watch behind-the-scenes videos of how the films were made. One of the perks is having the chance to see interviews with Peter Jackson and cast members, as these videos are not available for viewing anywhere else in the world. Weta Cave is located just twenty minutes from Wellington, with free street parking available for visitors.

Lake Wanaka

Hobbit Locations: Lake Wanaka

River Makarora flows into Lake Wanaka | (cc) Photo By HiGorgeous

When you first set your eyes on Lake Wanaka, it is common to get a feeling of déjà vu. This is because South Island’s Lake Wanaka is featured frequently in the films. The Southern Alps that surround Lake Wanaka are better known in Lord of the Rings as the Misty Mountains in the area called Rivendell. Lake Wanaka is home to one of the most iconic scenes in the film when Gwaihir, the giant eagle, rescues Gandalf from the Orthanc tower. If you are looking for a place to stay near Lake Wanaka, nothing could be better than the Minaret Lodge. They offer rooms that are truly larger than life so that, quite amusingly, guests actually feel like hobbits themselves.

Tongariro National Park

Lord of the Rings Locations: Mount Ngauruhoe

Mount Ngauruhoe | (cc) Photo By Mikedee123

Although the chance to walk through Mordor yourself might send chills up your spine, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for visitors to New Zealand. When Frodo and Sam journeyed through Mordor, the stronghold of Lord Sauron, they were actually trekking through parts of the Tongariro National Park. Digital alternations turned the actual Mt Ngauruhoe into the fictional Mount Doom, Mangawhero Falls became the Ithilien Camp, and Rangipo Desert was the home of many orc army scenes in Blackgate. You can join a guided tour or just bring along a map and walk the Tongariro Alpine Crossing yourself to bring to life the spookiness of Mordor.

The Ultimate LOTR Souvenir

Nelson, New Zealand

Nelson, New Zealand | (cc) Photo By Markus Koljonen

To get the most incredible souvenir of your time in New Zealand, head to the town of Nelson. This is where Hans Jensen, the actual jeweler who created the infamous rings, lives and works. You can view some of the original rings used during filming in his gallery, and you can buy exact replicas for yourself.

There are more than a hundred and fifty locations in New Zealand that were used for the filming of Lord of the Rings as well as The Hobbit, and a car really is necessary if you want to see as many of these places as possible. From cast hangouts to the landscape of Mordor, New Zealand is an incredible travel destination for Peter Jackson fans.

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16 Responses to “Welcome To Middle-Earth”

  1. Lake Wanaka is almost like a dream. I’ve got a fling that I’v heard about it or seen a documentary about it somewhere. I’ve got some Australian friends who have given me some DVDs of their journeys inside the country. Maybe it’s from there.

    Anyway, your photo is beautifully illustrating the magnificence of the scenery.

    Rahman Mehraby
    Destination Iran

  2. Embarrassed to say I’ve never watched Lord of the Rings, but I would TOTALLY visit just to check out this gorgeous landscape…so lush!

  3. Manuela says:

    WOOOOW!…. I’m not a big fan of the movies but looking at those landscapes made me want to watch the movies and then go to New Zeland to recp everything again! lol… :P Great pictures and great article!
    Manuela recently posted..Manuela arrives in ChandigarhMy Profile

    • Salika Jay says:

      Hi Manuela, welcome to my little corner of the web! You can skip the movies but not the NZ landscape :) Thanks for leaving a comment!

  4. That was indeed a trip to middle earth!
    gregory urbano recently posted..Dazzling Disney images with fellow 500px.com photographer Marc Perrella.My Profile

  5. Hi Salika,

    I’d love to visit Middle Earth! Haven’t been to NZ and a visit of LOTR locations will be high on my list when I go. Thanks for the sharing the location list.
    Marisol@TravelingSolemates recently posted..Jordan: Revived and Floating on the Dead SeaMy Profile

  6. Freya says:

    Stunning photos ! New Zealand has been on my bucket list for a long time now, I just need to make it happen one day.
    Freya recently posted..Inca Trail Preparation and Packing ListMy Profile

  7. Loved New Zealand when we visited years ago! I’m also a big fan of the LOTR and seeing Hobbiton is one of my top travel wish list. It’s such a magical and beautiful country.
    Mary {The World Is A Book} recently posted..Strolling through the Original Farmers Market Los AngelesMy Profile

  8. Agness says:

    The landscape is so picturesque ! Absolutely charming. Hope to make it there soon. New Zealand has been always on my bucket list :).