The Guide to The Lord of the Rings in Queenstown
Isengard, Rohan, Lothlorien, Dimrill Dale, the River Anduin… It’s all here on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and Queenstown‘s surroundings! With mountains of epic proportions seen in every direction separated by impressive river gorges with golden forests never too far away, it comes as no surprise that Queenstown is a base for blockbuster movie locations. You can visit most Queenstown Middle-earth locations by driving or hiking to them on your very own self-drive tour. Alternatively, hop on a Lord of the Rings tour to get some behind-the-scenes stories and some movie visuals to help you spot the exact filming locations.
Note that all the sets for The Lord of the Rings movies have been removed, so you’ll probably need to freshen up your memory by watching the movies again, then use our guide below (and your imagination) to find the locations.
7 Queenstown Lord of the Rings Locations to Tick Off the Must-See List!
- Arwen’s river flood – Skippers Canyon
- Dimrill Dale – Lake Alta
- Edoras to Helm’s Deep – Deer Park Heights
- River Anduin – Kawarau Gorge
- Faramir Vs. The Oliphaunts – Twelve Mile Delta
- Isengard – Paradise
- Rivendell (The Hobbit) – Earnslaw Burn
For more locations around New Zealand, check out the 23 Lord of the Rings Locations You Can’t Miss in New Zealand and plan the perfect LOTR holiday using The Lord of the Rings Vacation Guide: How to Plan a LOTR Trip to New Zealand.
“If you want him, come and claim him.”
Although Skippers Canyon only featured briefly in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the scene in The Fellowship of the Ring has to be one of the most memorable. The Shotover River running through the Skippers Canyon was the location where Arwen calls the flood to wash away the pursuing Ring Wraiths.
Getting to this location might just be your most terrifying adrenaline activity in the Queenstown area, as it involves driving for one hour on what has been described as the world’s most dangerous road. The steep cliff drops on the side of the narrow gravel road are enough to freak out even the bravest dwarf.
How to Get to Skippers Canyon
Skippers Canyon is about 28km (17 miles) north of Queenstown, starting from Arthurs Point. Note that this is a gravel road. The Lord of the Rings location can be seen on the Skippers Canyon Jet tour, which you can find out more about on Viator and Tripadvisor.
If you are prepared for a short but challenging hike, visit Lake Alta in The Remarkables mountain range. Note that you can only see the lake in summer, as the lake freezes over and the track is berried underneath a ski field in winter.
Lake Alta is the location of Dimrill Dale, where Aragorn leads the Fellowship down the slopes away from the Mines of Moria.
How to Get to Lake Alta
From Queenstown, take State Highway 6 south and turn off at the signposted junction to the Remarkables ski area. Drive to the top of this windy mountain road and start the Lake Alta Track from behind the ski field buildings. The track is 1h30mins return. The track is approximately 23km (14 miles) from Queenstown.
Alternatively, treat yourself to a heli-hike to Lake Alta with Alpine Luxury Tours, which you can learn more about on Viator and Tripadvisor. The lake can also be seen from Queenstown helicopter tours, such as this one with Glacier Southern Lakes Helicopters listed on Viator and Tripadvisor. See how the heli-experiences compares to the 5 Best Queenstown Helicopter Tours.
Deer Park Heights
This Lord of the Rings filming location in Queenstown features The Remarkables mountains again, this time in their iconic view from afar. Deer Park Heights, a farm on top of a hill on the Kelvin Heights Peninsula, was the location where the Rohirrim refugees took the journey between Edoras and Helm’s Deep in The Two Towers.
The farm was also briefly used when Aragorn was dragged off a cliff by a warg. Also, some close-up shots have been used here where Legolas gracefully jumped onto his horse, while, incidentally, Gimli was thrown off his.
How to Get to Deer Park Heights
Access is via the Kelvin Heights Peninsula on Peninsula Road then turn off just before Balmoral Drive, approximately 13km (8 miles) from Queenstown town centre. Deer Park Heights is a working farm and tourist attraction that is only accessible if driving a vehicle with seven or fewer seats, i.e. you cannot hike or cycle there. You must pay for a code to use at the toll gate (approximately NZ$55), available on the Deer Park Heights website.
Yes, the very same gorge you can do a bungy jump over was used as a Lord of the Rings filming location. The blue river was used to depict the River Anduin where the Fellowship canoe up to The Pillars of the Kings. You’ll have to use a lot of imagination here, as clearly the statues were edited into the movie in post-production.
How to Get to Kawarau Gorge
Either drive to the location along State Highway 6 or park up at the Kawarau Bridge and walk along the riverside walkway upstream.
The exact location is a bit further upstream from the Kawarau Bridge. Take the turn off to Chard Farm Winery and it is a short distance up this road. The location is approximately 25km (15.5 miles) from Queenstown town centre.
This is also a popular location stop with activity providers, such as Nomad Safaris. Find out more about Nomad Safaris on Viator, Tripadvisor, Klook or KKday.
Twelve Mile Delta
“PO-TA-TOES: boil em, mash em, stick em in a stew!”
Find the location where Sam and Gollum talk about potatoes in The Two Towers at Twelve Mile Delta. In the same location is where Frodo, Sam and Gollum watch the fight between Faramir’s rangers and the giant Oliphaunts. It’s instantly recognisable as you take this short walk on the Bob’s Cove Track from the Twelve Mile Delta campsite.
How to Get to Twelve Mile Delta
From Queenstown, take the Queenstown-Glenorchy Road for 10km (6 miles) to the Twelve Mile Delta Campsite. From there, take Bobs Cove Track. This stop is also in the itinerary for Nomad Safaris‘ Glenorchy Lord of the Rings tours, which you can find out more about on Viator, Tripadvisor, Klook and KKday.
Further around the enormous Lake Wakatipu lies another small settlement of Glenorchy. Nearby is the area known as “Paradise“. Far from the “island paradise” connotations you might imagine, Paradise is actually made up of sheep fields surrounded by impressive mountain peaks. This was also the location of Isengard and Saruman’s tower.
Unfortunately, the other filming locations are on private land so cannot be accessed, such as the hill where Beorn’s house set was built in The Hobbit. Some private forest land was also used to depict the forest of Lothlorien, however, you can still admire very similar forest along the Glenorchy-Paradise Road. Just pull into the off-road parking areas when the road goes into the forest.
How to Get to the Isengard Location in Glenorchy (Paradise)
Access is via the Glenorchy-Paradise Road at the GPS coordinates: 4440’25.0″S 16820’27.4″E. Note that this is a gravel road and is approximately 62km (38.5 miles) from Queenstown town centre. Alternatively, jump on a tour with Nomad Safaris, which you can find out more about on Viator, Tripadvisor, Klook and KKday.
A bonus location for you here at Earnslaw Burn, a filming location from The Hobbit. This is where The Company in An Unexpected Journey leave Rivendell, walking along the base of this melting glacier. For more Hobbit locations around New Zealand, see the 10 Best Hobbit Filming Locations in New Zealand and plan your Hobbit-themed trip using The Hobbit Vacation Guide.
Getting to Earnslaw Burn yourself is quite the challenge, as you will have to hike 8-12 hours on a return track or take a helicopter.
How to Get to Earnslaw Burn
The Earnslaw Burn Track starts on the left bank of the Earnslaw Burn on the Glenorchy-Paradise Road, 20 minutes from Glenorchy. Alternatively, book yourself a heli-picnic at this location with Alpine Luxury Tours. Check out their tours, read reviews and book your own helicopter flight on Viator and Tripadvisor. Plus, check more amazing hikes in the area listed in the 10 Best Walks in Milford Sound.
More About Lord of the Rings Locations in New Zealand and Queenstown
That’s it for our guide about The Lord of the Rings in Queenstown. Check out these articles to find more Middle-earth locations across New Zealand, as well as more Queenstown tips:
- The Guide to The Lord of the Rings in Te Anau
- 45 Best Things to Do in Queenstown
- The Complete Travel Guide to Queenstown
Finally, don’t miss a single location by checking out the 23 Best Lord of the Rings Locations in New Zealand and planning your trip using The Lord of the Rings Vacation Guide.