Travelling with the Lord of the Rings: Various Film Locations in New Zealand
The renowned film adaptation of J.R.R.Tolkien’s masterpiece Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring may be pure fiction, but the stunning bucolic greens of the Shire, menacing Mt. Doom in Mordor, and Gollum’s hideaway in the Misty Mountains are not just exemplary digital manipulations for the movie. These remarkable places actually exist (with different names, of course) in New Zealand. Take a journey with Frodo and the gang through this virtual tour of the film’s locations.
- Alexander Farm, Matamata. After a knock on the door in September 1998 and few negotiations with New Line Cinema, Ian Alexander’s 5-square-kilometre-sheep farm was catapulted to fame as the hobbits’ home in Lord of the Rings—the Shire. Fan’s requests to see the actual site forced Alexander to open his farm to the public via Hobbiton Movie Set Tours, which featured set remains such as 17 hobbit holes and the real Party Tree, the sight of Bilbo Baggins’ last birthday. While the movie raked in lots of cash at the box office, it also lured loads of tourists to this quiet town in New Zealand, drawing more than 300,000 domestic and international travels each year since.
- Tongariro National Park. If the hobbits had one of New Zealand’s amazing rolling greenery as home in the Fellowship of the Ring, the evil guys had to have their share of Middle Earth, too. The World Heritage Site Tongariro National Park, New Zealand’s first-ever park with three volcanoes, was the actual location of the otherworldly Mordor and Mt. Doom (Mount Ngauruhoe, in real life). Don’t worry; Orcs and Ringwraiths won’t bother you on your holiday here. Instead, a day trek among steaming craters, old lava flows, and thermal lakes will make your escapade unforgettable.
- Fernside Lodge, Featherton, Wairarapa. This lodge’s quaint garden and ornamental lake seemingly transports visitors to a magical realm, even without any cinematic production design. For the movie, it was transformed into the woods of Lothlorien, where the elf queen Galadriel gave Frodo good advice. This was also the place where Smeagol fought Deagol beside the Gladden fields, and where White Bridge is a point of interest. Since it’s an inn, you can stay here amidst an enchanting setting, just like an elf queen.
- Southern Alps. This picturesque stretch of snow-capped mountains was the hideout of the ring-obsessed Gollum. But this site is not only the place where the creature claimed, “It came to me, my own, my love…my precioussss…” Numerous scenes for the trilogy were also shot here; it was the backdrop when Gandalf flew with Gwaihir to Rohan after his rescue from Orthanc. Although the real-life adventures here won’t involve battling with Orcs or escaping Ringwraiths, activities such as bungee jumping into the Kawarau River (known in the film as River Anduin) will nevertheless give you an adrenaline rush.
- Wellington. The film’s first shooting day was held in the capital of New Zealand, specifically in the Town Belt of Mount Victoria where the four hobbits—Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin—hid from the Black Rider under the tree roots. But that was not Wellington’s only shining moment in the movie. It was also the town of Bree, where the hobbits were supposed to meet Gandalf at the “Inn of the Prancing Pony.” Merry and Pippin won’t be here to spice up your holidays with their innocently funny antics (“Sure, I know a Baggins. Frodo's my second cousin—once removed, on his mother's side. And my third cousin—twice removed, on his father's side. If you follow me.”), but you’re sure to have a good time with an overwhelming number of striking sights: Seal Coast Safari, Hutt River Trail, and East Harbour Regional Park.