Lights, Camera, Wellywood

Wellington has a starring role in Middle Earth and the city is gearing up for 2014's release of the third movie in the Trilogy.

Wellington, the 'Middle of Middle-earth', has had a starring role in both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies.

Tens of thousands lined the red carpet to welcome the cast and crew for the Wellington premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in November 2012.  Here's some more tips how you can get star struck on your visit to Wellywood.

The city is already excited for the release of the third movie in the Trilogy, due for release in late 2014, which will have its world premiere overseas.

Conservation and legal requirements mean no film sets from The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit trilogies remain in Wellington. However, there are many Wellington tour operators who know the secrets of the making of these movies, and can even take you into places the public does not have access to.

The Lord of the Rings tour operators to check out:

Follow in the footsteps of the stars and explore some of the film's locations yourself. Here's some tips:

Day 1

Hop on one of the tours of Middle Earth.

Any The Lord of the Rings tour will include this, otherwise you should pay a visit to the Weta Cave!  Nearby, Roxy Cinema, is a labour of love for a group of the city’s most successful film and hospitality personalities.  

This boutique theatre shows the latest movie releases and blasts from the past in a glamorous 1930's setting.

Lunch – depending on the length and itinerary of your tour, you may want to check out James Nesbitt's favourites including  Cafe Polo. You may even rub shoulders with the stars, given its proximity to Weta Workshop. 

If you have some time for shopping, check out ZambesiRobyn Mathieson and Voon, as well as Hema facial products which was popular with Liv Tyler (Arwen).

Dinner – Green Parrot was popular with Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn) who also launched one of his books there. Otherwise check out the Hobbits’ hangout – Matterhorn, a Wellington institution.

After dinner, check out Wellington’s vibrant nightlife. Make a stop at Motel bar, where Liv Tyler was reportedly turned away.

Day 2

Spend some time at Te Papa Museum - the first world venue for The Lord of the Rings exhibition.

When you've finished exploring, treat yourself to some fine dining at Logan Brown or The White House, popular with Elijah Wood (Frodo) and Liv Tyler. Otherwise check out the more laid-back Molly Malones, Wellington’s original Irish Pub, a favourite of Sean Bean’s (Boromir).

Then catch a movie at The Embassy Theatre, the venue of the world premiere of The Lord of the Rings – The Return of the King and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Be sure to check out the name plates with the actors and characters’ names by the engulfing leather seats.

If you have more time, be sure to check out:

Head to Eastbourne on The Dominion Post Ferry. Sir Ian McKellen (Gandalf) stayed there during the filming and he reportedly enjoyed the ferry ride to the city. Enjoy a nice meal at one of the many boutique cafés and a picturesque walk by the beach.

Take a drive to Mount Victoria – numerous scenes were shot in Mount Victoria’s city belt – it also has fantastic views of Wellington city and harbour.

Drive along the South Coast of Wellington, where you will come to the quaint seaside suburb of Seatoun. Most of the cast and crew stayed there during filming. Seatoun is also home to Peter Jackson - you can sometimes catch him hanging out in his garden or on the beach.

Continuing on the South Coast past Breaker Bay and the Wellington Airport, you will get to Lyall Bay. This was where Billy Boyd (Pippin) and Viggo Mortensen learned to surf!

As for star spotting - well, keep an eye out on Wellington streets as there's movies being made here all the time.

More information:

If you're a LOTR or Hobbit fan, you may be interested in these blogs and articles:

The official Hobbit blog

Sir Ian McKellen's Hobbit blog

The One Ring blog

Have you got a great story to tell? Add your own article