Frodo, Bilbo and the gang had quite the (unexpected) journey in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series. Along the way they encountered ugly orcs, creepy wraiths and even a giant spider that all tried to put a halt to their adventure
The classic tomes were brought to life in a series of powerhouse movies filmed in New Zealand. So what’s stopping you from heading out on your own Lord of the Rings adventure? Unlike Middle Earth, you have the luxury of the modern vehicle to get you from place to place. Sort out your car rental in a jiff by visiting DriveNow New Zealand’s car or campervan hire pages and you’ll be ready to roll.
Start your journey in the north and work your way down. Just like the hobbits, your trek should begin in Matamata. There you will be able to explore the Hobbiton region of the Shire, complete with small huts dug into the sides of lush hills. Matamata is a mere two-hour drive from the capital city of Auckland.
But that is just a jumping off point. Next, head south through some of New Zealand’s nicest wine country until you reach Wellington. Don’t let the beautiful scenery deceive you. Mount Victoria doubled as a hobbit hiding spot when the black riders were on the prowl. Just to be safe, it’s probably best to hop in the car and head less than an hour from there to Queen Elizabeth Park, which helped host a deadly celluloid battle between the Nazgul and Mumakil in the Pelennor Fields. Luckily for you the park closes at dusk, saving you from having to put on a brave face at night.
After surviving that, it’s time to hop on the ferry (yes, your car can come, too) and head to the South Island. Start in Nelson to visit Jans Hensen, the smith who made all the rings for the movies. You can even buy a replica without having to worry about trekking to Mount Doom.
The last portion of the journey takes you to the Anduin River, a focal point for for some of the most gorgeous Lord of the Rings screen scenery. One look and you’ll know why it was also called “The Great River of Wilderland.” Head to Chard Farm Vineyard in Queenstown for a chance to drink in the Kawarau River, one of the most iconic sites from the trilogy. Even though the larger-than-life statues from the big screen aren’t real, the basis for the Gates of Argonath, also known as the Pillars of the Kings, features placid water bracketed by towering cliffs.
To wrap it all up, take the Crown Range Road and head toward the top of Mount Cardona. From there you can look out over much of what was transformed into Middle Earth to bring Tolkien’s vision to life.
Congrats, my precious, you’ve made it to the end of your journey. You’ve experienced the majestic of New Zealand’s natural beauty without having to mess with any orcs, goblins or Gollum.