The Lord of the Rings

The Lord of the Rings filming locations

The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy was filmed entirely in New Zealand. Experience the stunning locations and lands that starred as Middle-earth.

The movie had a budget of $280 million and was filmed in some of New Zealand’s most beautiful places. Read on to learn about these filming locations (from north to south): Matamata, Wellington, Nelson, Canterbury, Mackenzie Country, Southern Lakes and Fiordland.

North Island

Camera Sheltered by tall trees, the hobbit holes at Hobbiton Movie Set are beautifully detailed.

Sheltered by tall trees, the hobbit holes at Hobbiton Movie Set are beautifully detailed.

Camera Sheltered by tall trees, the hobbit holes at Hobbiton Movie Set are beautifully detailed.

Sheltered by tall trees, the hobbit holes at Hobbiton Movie Set are beautifully detailed.

Matamata 

The Shire and Hobbiton Movie Set

The lush dairy farming landscape around the Waikato town of Matamata was used to portray the peaceful Shire region of Middle-earth. The village of Hobbiton was created here. It has since been rebuilt for the filming of The Hobbit Trilogy, and will now remain as a permanent attraction.

Getting there:

  • Driving time from Auckland is about 2 hours. Follow SH1 to Tirau, turn left onto SH27.

  • Domestic air services run to the city of Hamilton, which is 30 minutes drive from Matamata.

  • Intercity Coachlines run daily services to Matamata.

Wellington

Gardens of Isengard, the River Anduin, Rivendell, Osgiliath Wood, Paths of the Dead

The most accessible filming location in Wellington is Mount Victoria, which is within walking distance of the central city. The forested areas of the mountain were used to depict Hobbiton Woods, where the hobbits hid from the black riders. Other Wellington locations include the Hutt River between Moonshine and Totara Park, which played the part of the River Anduin; and Harcourt Park, which was transformed into the Gardens of Isengard.

Wellington’s Kaitoke Regional Park became Rivendell, where Frodo recovered from the knife attack. The exact location - a grassy area surrounded by native forest - is signposted from the carpark.

From Wellington you can drive up the west coast to Queen Elizabeth Park near Paraparaumu, which was used for filming the Nazgul and mumakil in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. Further up the coast is Waitarere Forest (Osgiliath Wood), where Frodo, Sam and Smeagol walked after leaving Faramir.

A drive over the hills to the Wairarapa region will take you to the eerie Putangirua Pinnacles, where Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli sought the Paths of the Dead.

Wellington is home to Weta Workshop, Weta Digital and the Miramar film empire which is central to The Hobbit Trilogy production. While the movie business centre is off-limits to visitors, The Lord of the Rings pilgrims can experience the Weta Cave.

Getting there:

South Island

Nelson

The rings, Chetwood Forest, Dimrill Dale

Nelson is home to Jens Hansen, the goldsmith responsible for creating the 40 different rings used in production. One of the original rings is on display and copies can be bought in 9 and 18ct gold. 

From Nelson drive west over Takaka Hill, which was the filming site for Chetwood Forest. Here the Ranger 'Strider' led the hobbits into the rough country east of Bree in an attempt to escape the Black Riders.

You'll need to catch a helicopter to see where the fellowship hid from Saruman's black crows. Ask the pilot to show you Dimrill Dale - Mount Olympus and Mount Owen. From the air, you'll get an eagle's view of the region's three national parks - Abel Tasman, Nelson Lakes and Kahurangi

Getting there:

  • Catch a domestic flight to Nelson airport from Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch.
     
  • You can drive to Nelson from Christchurch or Picton. Picton is the terminal for ferries from Wellington; the ferry can take passengers and their cars.
     
  • Intercity Coachlines link Nelson with Christchurch and Picton.
     
  • Drive to Takaka Hill from Nelson on SH 6. Turn right onto SH 60 at Richmond. 

Canterbury

Edoras

Camera Mount Sunday (Edoras) , Canterbury, New Zealand

Mount Sunday (Edoras) , Canterbury, New Zealand

Camera Mount Sunday (Edoras) , Canterbury, New Zealand

Mount Sunday (Edoras) , Canterbury, New Zealand

Nestled in the Ashburton District's high country sits Mount Sunday - a sheer-sided hill that was the set for Edoras, the main city of the Rohan people.

Nothing remains of this set, which took nine months to build, however the location still has a powerful magic. You can park your vehicle on Hakatere Potts Road and walk to the site. Nearby, Mount Potts Station offers accommodation and a restaurant.

Getting there:

  • Some international flights land at Christchurch airport. Or catch a domestic flight from Auckland or Wellington.

  • You can drive to Mount Sunday from Christchurch. Follow SH 1 to Ashburton, turn right onto SH77, left onto Inland scenic route 72, then right at Mount Somers.

Camera Outside Twizel

Outside Twizel

Camera Outside Twizel

Outside Twizel

Mackenzie Country

Pelennor Fields

Near Twizel in the Mackenzie Country, Peter Jackson filmed the epic battle of the Pelennor Fields, where thousands of orcs bred by Sauron clashed with the men of Gondor and Rohan. The grassy fields that stretch to the foothills of the mountains look exactly as described in The Lord of the Rings. The location is on private land, however you can arrange a tour in the town of Twizel.

Getting there:

  • Christchurch, the closest airport, receives some international flights. Or catch a domestic flight from any major New Zealand city.

  • You can drive to Twizel from Christchurch. Follow SH1 to Washdyke, turn right onto SH8.

  • Intercity Coachlines run daily services to Twizel from Christchurch.

Camera Glenorchy has provided breathtaking locations for blockbuster films such as The Lord of the Rings.

Glenorchy has provided breathtaking locations for blockbuster films such as The Lord of the Rings.

Camera Glenorchy has provided breathtaking locations for blockbuster films such as The Lord of the Rings.

Glenorchy has provided breathtaking locations for blockbuster films such as The Lord of the Rings.

Southern Lakes

Ford of Bruinen, Gandalf’s ride, Middle-earth panorama

From the village of Glenorchy, at the northern end of Lake Wakatipu, you can see the north-western slopes of Mount Earnslaw, which featured in the opening sequence of The Two Towers. From Glenorchy you can also discover Lothlorien - the beech forest on the road to Paradise.

Another memorable location can be found near Queenstown at Arrowtown where you can walk to the Ford of Bruinen on the Arrow River; you can also walk to Wilcox Green, where the Gladden Fields scenes were filmed.

From Chard Farm winery you can see a spectacular view of the Anduin and Argonath (Pillar of Kings). The Pillars were computer generated in the studio.

Drive over the Crown Range Road and you’ll find yourself in the Cardrona Valley. From here you can drive to the summit of Mount Cardona (1119m) for a panoramic view of Middle-earth. To the left are the River Anduin and the Pillars of the Argonath. In the hills straight ahead is the Dimrill Dale. In the distance is Amon Hen on the shore of Nen Hithoel.

Getting there:

  • Some international flights land at Queenstown airport. Alternatively, catch a domestic flight from Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch or Dunedin.

  • You can drive to Queenstown from Dunedin. Follow SH1 to Milton, turn right onto SH8, then follow SH6 from Cromwell.

  • Intercity Coachlines run daily services to Queenstown from Christchurch and Dunedin.

  • For directions on how to drive to specific Southern Lakes locations, ask at a South Island iSITE Visitor Information Centre.

Camera An inspiring Lord of the Rings valley in the Mount Aspiring National Park.

An inspiring Lord of the Rings valley in the Mount Aspiring National Park.

Camera An inspiring Lord of the Rings valley in the Mount Aspiring National Park.

An inspiring Lord of the Rings valley in the Mount Aspiring National Park.

Fiordland

River Anduin, Fangorn Forest

The Waiau River between Te Anau and Manapouri represented the River Anduin as the Fellowship paddled south from Lothlórien. The surrounding high peaks were used to depict the rough country south of Rivendell.

To discover Fanghorn Forest, ask for directions to Takaro Road, which is near Te Anau. Both sides of the road were filmed as Fangorn Forest; remote cameras were strung from high wires to film Aragon moving through the trees.

Getting there:

  • If you want to fly, choose from Dunedin airport, Queenstown airport and Invercargill.

  • Driving times: Invercargill to Te Anau via SH94, 2 ¼ hours; Dunedin to Te Anau via Balclutha, Gore, Lumsdem and Mossburn, 4 ¼ hours; Queenstown to Te Anau, 2 ½ hours.

  • Intercity Coachlines connect Te Anau with Invercargill, Dunedin and Queenstown.