The massively popular Lord of the Rings movies were filmed on location in New Zealand, and these have become a popular tourist attraction in their own right as fans make pilgrimages to experience some of the striking landscapes where scenes were shot.
Plan your own adventure
Shooting for the films took place in several locations all over New Zealand on both North and South Island. So, if you’re planning to see them all – or even just a handful – you’ll need to plan ahead and work out transport options such as hiring a car.
You could take an organised tour but many prefer to plan their own trip around the locations so as to tailor it to their time and interests – and many want to spend longer in certain areas to combine general holiday making and sightseeing with locations visits.
Finding out where the various locations are and plotting a logical tour around them is important so as to make the most of your time.
Prioritising your visits
For example, you may be interested to know more about how the actual filming processes happened such as creating the diverse characters and elements of Middle Earth through using computer generated images (CGI).
If so, a trip to Weta Cave near Wellington – where post production took place – would be in order. If you’re planning to visit Wellington’s tourist areas then you’d naturally combine the two activities.
There again, maybe you’re happy just to visit locations only so you may choose to leave Weta Cave out.
Focusing on your favourites
Unless you really plan to visit every location, then a way to pare them down should be sought bearing in mind this map shows nine different ones spread throughout the country.
Where you visit might be determined by those locations you particularly liked from the films. Some ideas:
Rivendell – to see the forest that became the spectacular and magical Elven Realm of Rivendell, then you’d include a trip to Kaitoke Regional Park. Much of Rivendell was created by CGI, but there’s enough in the natural landscape to anchor it as a ‘LOTR’ movie location.
Hobbiton – the green shire region of Middle-earth is to be found in Matamata on the North Island; the basic set remains as a permanent visitor attraction.
Lake-Town – based on Lake Pukaki on South Island, it’s easy to see how this spectacular inlet inspired the director Peter Jackson to choose it as a location.
Even in real life it’s an ethereal, almost magical place being bordered by snow capped peaks and either emerald or golden coloured trees depending on the season.
Fangorn Forest – based on the picturesque lakeside town of Te Anau, this was apparently one of the director’s favourite locations with its waterfalls, dramatic mountains and verdant forests.
This location played significant parts in the whole trilogy – especially ‘The Two Towers’. You’ll recognise it as Fangorn Forest, the Great River Anduin and the Dead Marshes in the scene where Gollum rescued Frodo.
Isengard – based in an area called ‘Paradise’, it’s perhaps no surprise it was chosen for a location with a name like that. This is where Gandalf rode out to meet Saruman.
It’s all in the planning
There are many ways to have a thoroughly enjoyable and memorable ‘Lord of the Rings location tour’ – but it’ll be even more enjoyable when planned and organised yourself as you can cover exactly what interests you at your own pace, and integrate other areas of interest in this beautiful country.