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.
Just 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 23 Lord of the Rings Locations You Can’t Miss in 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 1 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 even the most bravest dwarf out.
Location: 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.
Location: 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. 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 be seen from Queenstown helicopter tours, such as this one listed on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Deer Park Heights
Featuring 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.
Location: Access is via the Kelvin Heights Peninsula on Peninsula Road then turn off just before Balmoral Drive. Access is closed to the public to drive up there, but you can still walk up there to see the lake.
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.
Either drive to the location along State Highway 6 or park up at the Kawarau Bridge and walk along the riverside walkway upstream.
Location: 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. This is a popular location stop with activity providers, such as Nomad Safaris. Find out more about Nomad Safaris on Viator and Tripadvisor.
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.
Location: 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 and Tripadvisor.
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.
Location: 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. Alternatively, jump on a tour with Nomad Safaris, which you can find out more about on Viator and Tripadvisor.
A bonus location for you here at Earnslaw Burn, a filming location from The Hobbit. This is where the Company in An Unexpected Journey just leave Rivendell, walking along the base of this melting glacier. For more Hobbit locations around New Zealand, see 10 “The Hobbit” Filming Locations You Can’t Miss!
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.
Location: 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 Tour. Check out their tours on Viator and Tripadvisor.
More Lord of the Rings Locations in New Zealand
Check out these articles to find more Middle-earth locations in New Zealand!