8 Places in New Zealand to Experience the LOTR Magic

May 17, 2024

 

Image source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-looking-at-snow-covered-mountain-2407783/

If you’re backpacking in New Zealand this year and you also happen to be a fan of the Lord of The Rings franchise, it would be an absolute shame to miss out on some of the famous filming locations.

Granted, you may love the books but feel indifferent about the movies. You can still, however, get lost in the magic Tolkienesque world of hobbits and orcs, at least for an afternoon.

Get a low cost ticket to New Zealand and immerse yourself in one of the richest fantasy worlds ever conceived.

Hobbiton and Bag End

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The location that most likely tops your Lord of the Rings wishlist is Hobbiton. The Waikato town of Matamata is still home to a large part of the Shire, and you can visit it and experience the magic.

The set was first built for the LOTR trilogy and later resurrected for the Hobbit movies. It is now a permanent attraction and a great place to visit if you’re in New Zealand. Even non-fans flock to see it.

There is a guided tour available that will drive you all around the sheep farm. You’ll get to see the hobbit hole doors, including those of Bag End, the home of the Bagginses (to be read in Gollum’s voice). You can also walk around the interior of a hobbit home if you fancy.

Journey’s end will find you in the Green Dragon, where you can sample their exclusive Southfarthing range. Be careful not to overdo it, as you know what might happen if you do.

Get Off the Road!

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Victoria Park in Wellington is home to the famous scene where Frodo tells the others to get off the road and they hide from the Nine, before they realize what exactly they’re carrying and what it will cost them.

You can take a couple of photos here and recreate the tension, but note that the tree under whose roots the hobbits hide does not actually exist. You can add them in yourself, though, if you truly want a memento of this famous scene. Creepy crawlies not included.

Weathertop

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The Weathertop scene is probably one of the most famous ones from Fellowship of the Ring. It was filmed on location in Port Waikato, but the actual ruins that make for the backdrop of the action are not there in real life.

It’s a two-hour drive to get there from Auckland or from Hobbiton. But if you want to enjoy a bit of a hike in the vicinity, it’s a good place to visit, even if it’s a bit out of the way. Pretend to be stabbed by the Witch-king of Angmar to your heart’s content.

Rivendell

Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/yortw/5140121315

Rivendell was filmed in Kaitoke Regional Park, and I have to warn you: it looks nothing like the movies. There are no waterfalls, no valleys, no castles, and especially no elves. Not that we know of, at least.

However, there are numerous info boards that show scenes from the movies, and you can stand on the very spot where the Council of Elrond took place. And pretend to try to destroy the One Ring. Or imagine Aragorn in all his handsomeness. Unless you prefer Legolas.

The Forbidden Pool

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The Tawhai Falls in Tongariro National Park were chosen as the location for the Forbidden Pool, where Gollum was captured by Faramir in the Two Towers.

It’s a short hike to climb up to the pool, and you’ll enjoy some breathtaking scenery on your way from Whakapapa Village. Be careful, though, as the paths do get slippery. You’ll have no trouble recognizing the pools, even without the archers above.

Edoras

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If you would like to see Edoras, home of the people of Rohan, you’ll have to use a lot of imagination. It was filled on Mount Sunday in the Ashburton district.

Nothing remains of the set itself (which was actually built and not merely CGI’d in – it took nine months to complete), but the location is stunning. You can easily imagine Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas riding up the hill with Gandalf to free king Theoden from the clutches of Saruman.

The Battle of Pelennor Fields

Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Queen_Elizabeth_Park,_New_Zealand.jpg

Arguably the second most famous battle in the LOTR trilogy (if you are as massive a fan of Two Towers as I am), the Battle of Pelennor Fields was filmed in Queen Elizabeth Park near Paraparaumu.

You won’t recognize much from the movie, but you can reenact a bit of the battle, especially if someone in your party is willing to play the Nazgul. The location is great for hiking and spending time in the great outdoors, so getting there is definitely worth the effort.

Mount Doom

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You will, of course, also want to see Mt. Doom in all its glory. It can be found in the Tongariro National Park, and it’s quite the sight.

The circular cone of Mount Ngauruhoe stood in for the actual Mt. Doom, and the entire area served as Mordor. It’s quite wild and desolate, and it’s just as stunning in person as on the screen. You will feel Sauron’s eye on you at all times.

While you are in the national park, you’ll also want to visit the Tukino Ski Field, where the Black Gate of Mordor stood. The plains below are also recognizable as the setting for the storming of the Black Gate.

The Whakapapa Ski Area is where Gollum led Sam and Frodo up the Secret Stairs into the lair of Shelob. You won’t actually see Minas Morgul, unfortunately, but you can practically hear the Nazgul’s cry.

Wrapping Up

Remember what Bilbo said:

It’s a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.

Enjoy your visit to Middle Earth, and store as many memories of it as you can. They’ll keep you warm on your trek back to reality.

 

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