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LOTR Locations you Can’t Miss in New Zealand

The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies were filmed in hundreds of locations around New Zealand. Some were only used for brief aerial shots (remember the breathtaking shots of snow-capped mountain peaks in The Lighting of the Beacons?), while others played key destinations that appeared in many scenes.

These are some of the most recognizable LOTR locations around the country.

1. Hobbiton

Hobbiton movie set tour New Zealand

As the only LOTR location that still appears as it did in the films, the Hobbiton Movie Set is a must-see for any fans of the Middle-earth.

Perfectly situated in idyllic farmland, Hobbiton is so lifelike you expect to see Frodo and Sam emerging from the hobbit holes.

Even non-fans will appreciate the level of artistry that went into creating this miniature village.

2. The Valley of Isengard (Paradise Valley, Glenorchy)

jet boat queenstown
A jet boat tour through the Valley of Isengard (Paradise Valley)

With epic scenery straight out of a fantasy world, Glenorchy has been used as a filming location countless times.

The region is most iconic for its role as the Valley of Isengard. It’s easy to imagine Saruman’s tower rising from the river flats surrounded by towering peaks.

Visitors can also spot the Misty Mountains looming over the valley.

3. Edoras (Mt Sunday)

The windswept, dramatic Mt Sunday easily conjures up visions of Rohan. The location scouts could not have picked a more iconic location for the town of Edoras.

While the buildings were removed after filming wrapped up, visitors can still walk to the top of Mt Sunday and enjoy the same views Eowyn did, overlooking a circle of dramatic peaks.

4. Mordor (Tongariro National Park)

tongariro alpine crossing
Hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, with Mordor-like scenery all around

Though Mt Ngauruhoe officially played the part of Mt Doom, the real volcanic peak was buried under so many special effects it might not be recognizable to visitors.

However, the twisted volcanic rocks and barren scenery of Tongariro National Park were used in many scenes to create the land of Mordor.

5. Lothlorien (Glenorchy)

While you’re unlikely to recognize the exact trees that appeared in Lothlorien (unless you visit on a guided tour), the forests around Glenorchy conjure up the otherworldly atmosphere of the forests in Middle Earth.

Many scenes show a dramatic border of towering trees rising from the grassland–this unforgettable Middle-earth scenery is easy to recognize in Glenorchy.

6. Locations around Queenstown

Nomad Safaris guided tour Queenstown, New Zealand
Seeing the sights on a Queenstown LOTR location tour

Queenstown was one of the most-used filming locations on the South Island. Many of its recognizable film destinations are hard to find, so the best way to see these is on a location tour.

A few filming destinations you may visit on a location tour include the River Anduin, Dimrill Dale, and the backdrop of the Refugees from Rohan.

Helicopter tours are also available, taking visitors to some of the most remote, breathtaking mountainous filming locations around the Queenstown and Fiordland regions.

7. Locations around Wellington

Lord of the Rings tour Wellington
A Lord of the Rings location tour in Wellington

Another well-loved filming location, Wellington is a great place to enjoy a Lord of the Rings tour. Most of the exact film spots are hard to find without inside knowledge, so a tour is the best way to explore this area.

Your guide will point out many scenes from the Shire, the Gardens of Isengard, Rivendell, and the River Anduin.


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