Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogies fans have extra reasons to visit New Zealand since they can experience not only the locations used to film but also attend special events and functions.
Read our concise guide on how to visit the most remarkable NZ filming locations used for these movies, including how to get there, and events you won’t want to miss.
First things first, though, in order to travel to the island country, you will need to have the required entry documents for New Zealand —starting with the NZeTA.
Check whether you are eligible to apply online for an NZeTA.
Visit Middle‑earth™ in New Zealand
The Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed exclusively in New Zealand. There are a number of breathtaking spots fans can visit for an immersive LOTR experience during their stay in the nation.
The beautiful countryside and charming villages such as the Hobbiton movie set are definitely worth a visit.
Tourists visiting NZ can find everything from accommodation and souvenirs to guided tours and home-cooked food in these Kiwi locations.
North Island Lord of the Rings trilogy locations
Tourists are often enchanted by the charming village of Hobbiton that was built in Matamata.
Matamata Lord of the Rings movie scenes
The original set, used to represent the peaceful Shire region of Middle‑earth™, was taken down and a new one was built for the filming of The Hobbit Trilogy.
The lush green farming landscape that surrounds the town of Matamata in Waikato and the new Hobbiton village have been preserved as permanent attractions.
There are different ways to get from Auckland to the Lord of the Rings filming locations in Matamata, New Zealand:
- Bus from Auckland – Central to Matamata (about 4 hours)
- Bus via Hamilton to Matamata (about 3 hours and a half)
- Car (driving would take about 2 hours)
- Plane and cab (flying to Tauranga would take about 40 minutes plus another 40 minutes by taxi to go from the airport to Matamata)
If you are renting a car to drive between locations, make sure to read our tips on Driving in New Zealand as a tourist.
Another area that also has its fair share of LOTR filming locations, is Wellington.
Wellington Lord of the Rings filming sites
Mount Victoria is the most accessible Lord of the Rings shooting area in Wellington. In fact, it is within walking distance of the central city.
The forest areas of Mount Victoria were used to depict Hobbiton Woods —the spot where the hobbits hid from the Black Riders.
Other interesting places in Wellington used to record the Lord of the Rings trilogy include:
- The Gardens of Isengard —represented by Harcourt Park
- The River Anduin —which is actually a part of Hutt River that flows between Moonshine and Tōtara Park
- Rivendell —where Frodo recovered after the knife attack— is located in Wellington’s Kaitoke Regional Park
- Osgiliath Wood —where Frodo, Sam, and Gollum walked after leaving Faramir— was set in Waitarere Forest on the west coast
- The Paths of the Dead —filmed in the Putangirua Pinnacles of the Wairarapa region
- Queen Elizabeth Park —near Paraparaumu, was used to film the Nazgul and mumakil in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields
The Weta Workshop, Weta Digital and the Miramar film empire which are central to both LOTR and The Hobbit Trilogy production are also located in Wellington.
The Weta Cave —a free miniature museum— is open to visitors and The Lord of the Rings fans. There is also a souvenir shop where tourists can buy and enjoy Middle-earth memorabilia made from by the makers of The Lord of the Rings.
Visitors interested in hearing behind-the-scenes stories from The Lord of the Rings can sign up for a tour of the Weta Workshop at the Weta cave.
Most Wellington Lord of the Rings filming locations can be reached either by walking from the city centre, or by bus or train ride.
South Island Lord of the Rings trilogy locations
Did you know that 40 different rings were used in the production of the Lord of the Rings?
One of the original rings, created by goldsmith Jens Hansen of Nelson Tasman, is on display at Home of the ‘One Ring’. Fans who wish to can purchase gold replicas on location in Nelson.
Visitors can get to Nelson by:
- Plane: It’s a short flight away from Wellington or other New Zealand airports
- Ferry: From Wellington to Picton
- Car: By road from Christchurch, Blenheim, Picton, the West Coast, and Murchison
Nelson Tasman LOTR trilogy sets
Chetwood Forest scenes were filmed at Takaka Hill, a scenic hour-long drive (or nearly 2-hour long bus ride) from Nelson Tasman. This is the spot where the Ranger ‘Strider’ led the hobbits through the country east of Bree while trying to escape the Black Riders.
Dimrill Dale —where the fellowship hid from Saruman’s black crows— is accessible by helicopter. Look out for Mount Olympus (used to represent Dimrill Dale) and Mount Owen.
During the ride, you will also get a breathtaking view of the region’s 3 national parks:
- Abel Tasman
- Nelson Lakes
The Edoras scenes —the main city of the Rohan people— were filmed on Mount Sunday, the Ashburton District’s high country.
Fans can enjoy the location’s beautiful scenery —although the Edoras set was removed— by driving to Hakatere Potts Road and walking the rest of the way. The nearest accommodation and restaurant are located in nearby Mount Potts Station.
Mackenzie Country Lord of the Rings filming spot
Pelennor Fields, where the epic battle was filmed with thousands of orcs bred by Sauron clashed with Gondor and Rohan’s men is located in the Mackenzie Country
Fans that would like to visit the grassy fields can arrange a tour in the nearby town of Twizel.
You can visit all of these by bus from Christchurch and Queenstown via the Mackenzie Country. Daily services have stops at Lake Tekapo, Twizel, and Omarama —all of which are worth a visit.
Queenstown LOTR scenery
Multiple areas near the village of Glenorchy were used as backdrops in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, including:
- Ford of Bruinen (Arrow River, in Otago)
- Gandalf’s ride (Paradise Road)
- Isengard (Mount Earnslaw)
- Lothlorien (Mount Aspiring National Park)
- Gladden Fields (Wilcox Green)
- Pillar of the Kings (Anduin and Argonath)
You can get to Glenorchy by bus from Queenstown. Helicopter tours are available near Queenstown airport to view various of these filming locations in a single flight.
Fans can also drive to the summit of the Crown Range to experience a spectacular panoramic view of Middle‑earth™.
Lord of the Rings Fiordland Scenery
The Waiau River scenes were recorded around the River Anduin between Te Anau and Manapouri.
The location where Fangorn Forest was filmed can be seen on both sides of Takaro Road, near Te Anau.
Now that you have planned out your next trip to New Zealand, complete with all the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogies filming locations, you should remember that the NZeTA is now a mandatory requirement for many foreign visitors to enter New Zealand.
Eligible citizens can complete the online application form in as little as 10 minutes. Most requests are granted within 24 hours, although some can take up to 3 business days.