Lord of the Rings Fans: Tour the Landscapes of Middle-Earth in New Zealand

April 5, 2012 by

Sightseeing, Things To Do, Tours & Activities

Hobbiton! Photo courtesy of sheilaellen on Flickr

Hobbiton! Photo courtesy of sheilaellen on Flickr

Fans of The Lord of Rings trilogy are eagerly anticipating filmmaker Peter Jackson’s next movie: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Adapted from the classic cult novel The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien, it is set in Middle-earth (New Zealand) 60 years before The Lord of the Rings.

New Zealand’s diverse and dramatic landscapes lend themselves well to the film adaptions of Tolkien’s novels; and Peter Jackson, a native New Zealander, knew this only too well.  More than 150 New Zealand locations were used in the film and some of these still contain the sets from the original Lord of the Rings movie. Here’s our guide to the landscapes of Middle-earth.


The endearing sounding town of Matamata is the fictional home to the even more endearing hobbits. Just two hours south of Auckland in the Waikato region, Matamata is rich farming country and as such was the perfect setting for the rolling green hills of Hobbiton and The Shire.

It’s possible to take a guided tour of the Hobbiton movie set and listen to commentary on how it was all created. Many travelers choose to combine a trip here with a visit to the Waitomo Caves.

Mt. Doom

More intrepid travelers might wish to take a helicopter tour over remote Lord of the Rings locations like Mt Doom, aka Mt Ruapehu, in the North Island’s Tongariro National Park. Mt Ruapehu is the largest volcano of three volcanoes in the park and was used to represent Mordor and Emyn Mull.

Gardens of Isengard; the River Anduin and more

There are several noteworthy film sights in and around Wellington and is it worth taking a guided tour to see them all. Mount Victoria was used as Hobbiton Woods, the Hutt River was part of the River Anduin and Harcourt Park became the Gardens of Isengard.

Other places included in Lord of the Rings tours are: the Southern Lakes (Misty Mountains, Ford of Bruinen, Gandalf’s ride, Middle-earth panorama); Canterbury (Edoras); Mackenzie Country (Pelennor Fields) and the spectacular Fiordland (River Anduin, Fangorn Forest).

- Emma McMahon

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