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The Top 5 Middle Earth Attractions in New Zealand

The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies were filmed in many locations spanning both islands of New Zealand. Most of the sets and props are now long since gone, but at these top 5 Middle Earth attractions, you can still see remnants of the filming magic.

On a Lord of the Rings tour, you can explore New Zealand’s best filming locations and experience Middle Earth in real life.

The magic of Middle Earth lives on in these enchanting Middle Earth attractions:

  • The Hobbiton Movie Set
  • Weta Workshop
  • Rivendell
  • Wellington Airport
  • Film Location Tours

Read on for more details about these top Middle Earth attractions.

The Best Middle Earth Attractions in New Zealand

1. The Hobbiton Movie Set

hobbiton

Hobbiton is the one place where you can experience a filming location exactly as it looks in the movies.

For the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Hobbiton movie set was built out of temporary materials and later dismantled. However, when it came time to film the Hobbit trilogy, Hobbiton was rebuilt out of hardier materials so it would last for years to come.

The level of detail and artistry put into the Hobbiton movie set is incredible to see. Even though many of the hobbit holes on set were never shown in the films, each is constructed with painstaking care. From the realistic moss that gives the fences an aged appearance to the vegetable plots tended by a team of gardeners, Hobbiton feels like a living village.

2. Weta Workshop

Weta Workshop, one of the top Middle Earth attractions from Lord of the Rings
An artist working on a miniature at Weta Workshop

Weta Workshop is where special effects brought Middle Earth to life. This film studio has since worked on some of the world’s most famous fantasy and sci-fi movies, but it earned its fame with the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

From creature design (orcs, dragons, Nazgul, Smeagol, and much more) to armor, weapons, and miniature sets, Weta Workshop was involved in every part of bringing the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films to screen.

Book a behind-the-scenes tour for a look at how the artists pulled off their feats of cinematography.

3. Rivendell

The filming location for Rivendell is tucked in a patch of idyllic forest north of Wellington. While the elven homes are no longer standing, there are signs with information about the set, along with a Middle Earth-style arch to commemorate the films.

The best way to visit Rivendell is on a full-day Lord of the Rings tour with Rover Rings Tours (departing out of Wellington).

4. Wellington Airport

Lord of the Rings sculpture at Wellington Airport Middle Earth attractions
An enormous Gollum sculpture at Wellington Airport (made by the team at Weta Workshop)

If you fly into or out of Wellington Airport, you might think you’ve stumbled into a film set.

Weta Workshop has decorated Wellington Airport with an enchanting array of Middle Earth-themed sculptures and filming props. See if you can spot Gollum trying to catch a fish, a giant eagle carrying Gandalf on its back, a dragon emerging from its cave, and a pair of dwarven pillars.

5. Middle Earth film location tours

Lord of the Rings Edoras Tour Middle Earth attractions
Standing on top of Mt Sunday (Edoras) on a Lord of the Rings location tour

Filming location tours are available in many locations throughout New Zealand, most notably Wellington, Queenstown, and Christchurch. (The Christchurch tour visits Edoras, while the other tours stop at numerous local filming locations.)

While no set pieces remain in these locations, the filming location tours help recreate the magic. For example, tour guides share movie stills showing what the destination looked like in the movies. In addition, props and costumes are often available for great photo opportunities. And, best of all, many of the guides played as extras in the films! Nothing is more fun than hearing behind-the-scenes stories from someone who was really there.

Want to visit the most recognizable filming locations around the country?

Read about LOTR locations you can’t miss in New Zealand Next >

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