Where Was The Lord of the Rings Filmed in New Zealand?
As soon as you start to leave the cities in New Zealand it is completely obvious that this is Middle-earth. Any of the rolling green hills could be The Shire. Then you are in for some spectacular Lord of the Rings scenery as you approach the grand mountains and forests in the South Island.
Arguably, it was the success of The Lord of the Rings movies that showcased New Zealand’s sheer beauty to the world. Now you can visit these locations on a road trip around New Zealand. We have only listed the Lord of the Rings locations that you can get to via hiking track, gravel road or sealed road, otherwise, you would need a helicopter to get to some of the more remote places.
Die-hard fans might want to consider a Lord of the Rings tour to see some secret filming locations, which often includes costumes to re-enact scenes. Get your geek on!
Oh, as when it comes to where was Lord of the Rings filmed, the answer is: between October 1999 and December 2000. For more on where they filmed Lord of the Rings, see below.
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1. Mt Ngauruhoe
Also known as Mt Doom! Like Frodo and Sam, you can climb ever closer to the fiery depths of Mordor by walking the Tongariro Crossing. This gives you the best views of Mt Ngauruhoe. If you are feeling extra fit, you can hike up Mt Doom itself!
For more information, check out our full Guide to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing and The Famous Lord of the Rings Filming Locations in Ruapehu.
When asking where was Lord of the Rings filmed the first thing that usually comes up is Hobbiton and guess what?! Hobbiton is a real place! You can potter around the village in The Shire, have a drink in the Green Dragon, dance under the Party Tree, and visit Bag End. Any true Lord of the Rings fan cannot come to New Zealand without visiting this iconic movie set. Book your tickets to Hobbiton on Viator or Tripadvisor.
Location: Matamata, Waikato, North Island
3. Kawarau Gorge
See the same gorge, otherwise known as the Anduin River, that the Fellowship of the Ring paddled down to be greeted by the two giant statues on either side on the river. Unfortunately, the statues were added in post-production Nevertheless, Kawarau Gorge is pretty spectacular. Check out Lord of the Rings Locations in Queenstown for more information.
Location: Walks along Kawarau Gorge can be started from the Kawarau Bungy Jump Bridge, Queenstown, South Island.
4. Mt Sunday
This stunning location in Canterbury is the backdrop for Edoras, the capital of Rohan. You can easily picture where the Edoras set was on top of Mt Sunday. Either drive there or take a Lord of the Rings Tour from Christchurch. Find out more about the tour on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Location: Access is via Hakatere Potts Road, Ashburton Lakes, Canterbury, South Island
5. Putangirua Pinnacles
There is no mistaking that these eroded pillars make up the Dimholt Road that Legolas, Aragorn and Gimli took when they first encountered the Army of the Undead. Do the hike there and/or stay the night in the campsite; see, there’s another reason to travel New Zealand in a rental campervan!
Location: Aorangi Ranges, Wairarapa District, Wellington, North Island. Check out their exact location in Wairarapa – Guide for Backpackers.
6. Skippers Canyon
If you want him, come and claim him. Yes, Arwen washed away the pursuing ringwraiths right here in Skippers Canyon. Jump on the Skippers Canyon Jet to see this Lord of the Rings location. Find out more about Skipper Canyon Jet on Viator and Tripadvisor. Additionally, check out our guide to the Lord of the Rings Locations in Queenstown.
Location: Skippers Canyon is about 28km (17 miles) north of Queenstown, South Island. From Arthurs Point, take Skippers Road for almost 1 hour. Beware, Skippers Road is pretty gnarly, to say the least.
7. Deer Park Heights
Deer Park Heights is the filming location for many scenes in Rohan. One example is the journey from Edoras to Helm’s Deep, where you can spot The Remarkables in the background. Sadly, the park has been closed to visitors since 2009, but you can still take a walk up there.
Location: Access is via the Kelvin Heights Peninsula on Peninsula Road then turn off just before Balmoral Drive. Queenstown, Otago, South Island.
Welcome to Gondor! With The Lord of the Rings Twizel Tour, you can re-enact the Battle of Pelennor Fields. Stab a ring wraith in the face like Eowyn and shout: “I am no man!” See the exact Pelennor Fields location with One Ring Tours. One plus of the tour is that the fantastic guide is absolutely happy to answer any question even if she hears: “Where was The Lord of the Rings filmed?” about five times per tour. No joke. Find out more about One Ring Tours on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Location: Twizel, Canterbury, South Island.
9. Kepler Mire
There are dead faces in the water! Kepler Mire near Te Anau is the location for the Dead Marshes that Gollum leads Frodo and Sam through.
Location: The Kepler Mire is seen from Mount York Road, just off State Highway 95, a 10-minute drive from Te Anau, Fiordland National Park, South Island.
10. Snowdon Forest
Snowdon Forest in Fiordland National Park is the location of Fangorn Forest. This is where Gandalf whistles for his majestic horse, Aragorn tracks the hobbits’ trail into the forest, and it is the home of the ents.
Location: At Bog Pine Paddock, Snowdon Forest. From Te Anau, take State Highway 94 then Kakapo Road then Takaroa Road. Fiordland National Park, South Island.
11. Mt Victoria
In The Fellowship of the Ring, the Hobbits hide from the ringwraiths on the walking track of Mt Victoria. Highlights are when Merry breaks his carrot and Frodo shouts: Get off the road! Find the exact location with this Lord of the Rings Wellington tour, available on Viator and Tripadvisor.
12. Weta Cave & Workshop
Ok, so this isn’t exactly a filming location, but it is the studio where the props, costume, make-up and special effects were created for The Lord of the Rings. See Guide to The Lord of the Rings in Wellington for more information and book your Weta Workshop tour on Viator or Tripadvisor.
Location: Miramar, Central Wellington, North Island. Take Bus 2 to Miramar and simply ask the driver to tell you when to get off at the Weta Cave. Don’t worry, this happens often. Otherwise, it is located on the corner of Weka Street and Camperdown Road.
13. Waiau River
Another Anduin River shot. This location on the Waiau River was used in the opening aerial shots in The Fellowship of the Ring. You can either drive to this location or see it on the Kepler Track, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks.
Location: About 13km (8 miles) out of Te Anau. The Waiau River can be accessed by State Highway 95. About 11km (7 miles) south of Te Anau, turn onto Rainbow Reach Road. Southland, South Island.
14. Mavora Lakes
Follow Merry and Pippin’s trail where they got loose from the orcs on the edge of Fangorn Forest, just like Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli did in The Two Towers! See more filming locations nearby in The Guide to The Lord of the Rings in Te Anau.
Location: From Te Anau, travel about 30km (19 miles) on State Highway 94, turn off onto Mavora Lakes Road for about 18km (11 miles) to Mavora Lakes Park. Southland, South Island.
15. Mararoa River
Another Lord of the Rings location in the Mavora Lakes area, the Mararoa River was used in the scene where The Fellowship leaves Lothlorien. The filming location is at the swingbridge at the southern end of South Mavora Lake.
Location: Access is via Mavora Lakes Road about 65km (40 miles) away from Te Anau. Take State Highway 94 south for 30km (19 miles) then turn on Mavora Lakes Road for about 35km (22 miles) until you reach South Mavora Lake. Southland, South Island.
16. North Mavora Lake
The last location in the Mavora Lakes Park includes these two filming locations on the shores of North Mavora Lake. The shore is unmistakably the place with The Fellowship end their Anduin River journey. Nearby in the forest is also the area where Merry and Pippin hide from the Uruk-hai. Because all that forest looks the same, here is the specific GPS coordinates for that forest location: 45 16.024’S 168 10.500’E.
Location: Access is via Mavora Lakes Road about 71km (44 miles) away from Te Anau. Take State Highway 94 south for 30km (19 miles) then turn on Mavora Lakes Road all the way to the end of the road. Southland, South Island.
17. Twelve Mile Delta
This campsite located on the banks of Lake Wakatipu is the location where Frodo, Sam and Gollum watch the battle between Faramir’s rangers and the Oliphaunts, as well as the scene where Sam and Gollum talk about: “PO-TA-TOES: boil ’em, mash ’em, stick ’em in a stew!” For more information, see Lord of the Rings Locations in Queenstown.
Not too far from Glenorchy is a place called Paradise. This happened to be the location of Isengard seen when Gandalf approaches Saruman’s tower. Check out this location either on a self-drive trip or with Nomad Safaris in Queenstown. Find out more about tours with Nomad Safaris on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Location: Access is via the Glenorchy-Paradise Road at the GPS coordinates: 4440’25.0″S 16820’27.4″E. This is a gravel road. Otago, South Island.
19. Mt Gunn
One of the stunning locations where the beacons were lit between Gondor and Rohan. This is definitely a standout moment in the films for New Zealand scenery. You can either get a view from Mt Gunn by hiking or taking a scenic flight.
Location: Get views of Mt Gunn from the Franz Josef Glacier Valley access track. Turn off State Highway 6, about 500 metres (549 yards) south of Franz Josef Village onto the Franz Josef Glacier access road until you reach the car park. Then follow the glacier access track. West Coast, South Island.
20. Tukino Ski Field
On the small club ski field on the slopes of Mt Ruapehu, you can find the location where Frodo, Sam and Gollum look at the Gates of Mordor.
Location: Access is via Tukino Skifield Road off State Highway 1 about 22km (14 miles) from Waiorou. Tukino is well-signposted but be aware this is a gravel road. Mt Ruapehu, Manawatu-Wanganui, North Island.
21. Whakapapa Ski Field
Another ski field on Mt Ruapehu, Whakapapa was the location of a few Mordor scenes including the opening scene in The Fellowship of the Ring where the Isildur cuts Sauron’s finger off. It is also the location where Frodo and Sam catch Gollum and where Gollum leads the Hobbits to Emyn Muil.
Location: For locations, check out The Famous Lord of the Rings Filming Locations in Ruapehu.
22. Mangawhero River
Just before the magnificent Mangawhero Falls is the location where Gollum catches a fish. Delve a little further along the river and you’ll find a spot where Frodo and Sam passed a ruined column in a clearing.
Location: Signposted off Ohakune Mountain Road, Mt Ruapehu. Manawatu-Wanganui, North Island. Check out the full guide in The Famous Lord of the Rings Filming Locations in Ruapehu.
23. Tawhai Falls
And while you are in the Ruapehu area, check out Tawhai Falls. The waterfall and pool below were partly used when Gollum is catching a fish while Faramir and his rangers aim their arrows at him. Tawhai Falls is now commonly known as Gollum’s Pool.
Location: The short walking track to Tawhai Falls starts 4km (2.5 miles) from Whakapapa Village along State Highway 48. Manawatu-Wanganui, North Island.
More About The Lord of the Rings in New Zealand
- Make sure to add The Hobbit filming locations to your itinerary.
- You can check out our The Lord of the Rings location guide here.
- Finally, check out The Hobbit Location Guide
Plus, check out alternative experiences in the 101 Things to Do in New Zealand: The Ultimate List.