Activities and Locations for The Lord of the Rings in New Zealand
One of the most visually stunning movies of all time, The Lord of the Rings was entirely filmed in New Zealand. Seeing the scenic backdrop in the fantasy trilogy is the reason many backpackers and holidaymakers come to NZ. Experience Middle Earth to its fullest by visiting the filming locations, the Hobbiton movie set, or a design and prop workshop. We’ll cover it all in this The Lord of the Rings Location Guide.
Whether you want to take a self-guided tour of the Lords of the Rings locations by finding all the filming spots or meet the team behind the movie magic on tours around the country, you’ll find a way to get your Middle-earth nerd on in New Zealand.
Guide to The Lord of the Rings in New Zealand
So we know New Zealand is where The Lord of the Rings was filmed but there are different ways to see and experience Middle Earth.
- See LOTRs scenery for yourself!
- Find out the best ways to visit the locations.
- What is Hobbiton and where to find it?
- What is the Weta Workshop and where to find it?
- Some fun facts about the LOTRs in New Zealand.
The Lord of the Rings Scenery
Filming took place all over New Zealand. As you travel around the country you will realise that pretty much everywhere could well have been in LOTRs! The rolling green hills in the North Island look like The Shire, and the majestic mountains in the south could be the Misty Mountains. But any die-hard fan should see the exact LOTRs locations such as Mt Sunday in the Canterbury region, which is the beautiful site of Edoras. Additionally, the Putangirua Pinnacles in the Wellington region is the location where Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli seek the Army of the Undead.
You can combine seeing and doing by hiking the Tongariro Crossing near Taupo, one of New Zealand’s most popular day walks. Here, you are practically Frodo Baggins when his adventure climaxes at Mt Doom or, in reality, Mt Ngauruhoe.
For our favourite LOTRs locations see our 23 Lord of the Rings Locations You Can’t Miss in New Zealand. We’ve also picked out some regional Lord of the Rings highlights in:
How to Get to The Lord of the Rings Locations
Self-drive Lord of the Rings Tour
Because many locations are in quite secluded areas, it is easier to visit them by car. (Have a look about renting a car in Guide to Renting a Car/Campervan in New Zealand or buying one in Buying a Car in New Zealand Step by Step).
If you are planning a road trip around New Zealand make sure to include some Lord of the Rings locations such as Glenorchy and Twizel for a general sense of Middle-earth scenery. Alternatively, you can take a self-drive tour by adding the 23 Lord of the Rings Locations You Can’t Miss in New Zealand to your map.
Guided Lord of the Rings Location Tours
There are some Lord of the Rings tours, which usually offer transport from the nearest township or city to the locations, provide insider knowledge of the filming that took place in these locations, and even have costumes and swords to re-enact some scenes. Geek-tastic!
It’s also worth noting that a great deal of the Lord of the Rings filming locations are on private land. Tour guides have permission to access these lands with groups, so you can really see the exact locations.
Here are some Lord of the Rings tours worth checking out:
The Lord of the Rings Hobbiton Movie Set
This is where fantasy is brought to life as Hobbiton looks exactly as it does in the movies! Perhaps even more so as you notice tiny details in this set that you might not have noticed in the movies. The Green Dragon is even a working pub. Visiting the set is a must-do for any LOTRs fan, which will leave your camera full of miscellaneous hobbit hole pictures!
Where is Hobbiton?
Hobbiton is near Matamata in the Waikato region of the North Island. Access to the set is through a guided tour, which offers a wealth of information about the set, filming, the lengths went to keep filming a secret, cast and crew, and the fascinating story about how the location for Hobbiton was discovered.
Tip: Find out how to get the best deal on your Hobbiton ticket in How to Get the Best Hobbiton Discount.
Weta Workshop, Wellington
In the Miramar suburb of Wellington is the Weta Workshop and Weta Cave shop: home to the conceptual design, props and make-up/prosthetics of The Lord of the Rings.
See the array of weaponry on display, miniatures of Middle-earth’s cities, and get up close and personal with huge models of Uruk Hai and trolls.
A guided tour is ideal for movie buffs interested in the inner workings of the LOTRs movies and the process behind designing and manufacturing props. The workshop is not exclusive to The Lord of the Rings, but was also behind-the-scenes in The Hobbit, Avatar, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and more.
Fun Facts About The Lord of the Rings in New Zealand
- The tree that stands above Bag End has been completely manufactured. Every single leaf has been individually painted and attached.
- Most of the Fellowship actors took up surfing in New Zealand during filming, and we don’t blame them.
- The New Zealand government had a Minister for The Lord of the Rings.
- Shelob, the spider in The Return of the King is based on the New Zealand tunnel web spider.
The Lord of the Rings Guided Tours
Where Can You Get a Guided Lord of the Rings Tour in New Zealand?
- Queenstown and Wanaka. See LOTRs locations by land, water, sky and horseback in the surrounding Queenstown area, such as Glenorchy. Some tours will take you as far as Fiordland.
- Wellington Rover Tours
- Lord of the Rings Twizel Tour
- Lord of the Rings Edoras Tour, Christchurch
- Hobbiton Movie Set and Farm Tours, Matamata
- Everywhere with Red Carpet Tours’ 10-14 day trips.