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Essential places to visit in NZ for Tolkien fandom

The Hobbit Motel


When JRR Tolkien created Middle Earth, he couldn’t have imagined that there’d be a place in his world that resembled the Shire, Gondor, Erebor, Rohan and many other lands created by his wonderful mind. 


Nor could the Lord of the Rings author have imagined that several decades after the books came out, a trilogy of films based on his novels would be created, and that they would go on to become a masterpiece of cinematography, with “The Return of the King” winning 11 Oscars.


After its success, the LOTR trilogy director Peter Jackson was entrusted to film The Hobbit; and once again he chose his homeland, New Zealand as the primary filming locaton. 


Jackson, with his team of assistants, picked locations that perfectly resembled the landscape of Middle Earth. And the breathtaking shots of different destinations have since made fans of the films adore NZ. 


So, what are the essential places to visit in New Zealand if you’re a true Tolkien fan?




1. Wellington

This is the heart of the production of the LOTR trilogies and Hobbit moviesIn Wellington, all Tolkien fans need to visit:

• Mount Victoria - Amazing scenery, hidden footpaths and the woods served as the filming location where the hobbits hid from ringwraithsThe Hobbits’ Hideaway can be found if you follow the signs. 

• Putangirua Pinnacles - One of the pivotal moments in The Return of the King was when Aragorn met the Army of the Dead to unite in the war against Sauron. This iconic scene was filmed at Pitangitua Pinnacles. 

• Weta Cave - Many of the things used in LOTR and The Hobbit wouldn’t have been possible without the professionals from Weta Workshop, which created swords, shields, ammunition and many other objects. Weta has frequent tours for Tolkien fans, taking visitors behind the scenes and into the production details.


For a Tolkien fan, it’s better to start your journey around New Zealand/Middle Earth from Wellington.


“Here you’ll find appropriate accommodation, and it’s easier to travel around as many tourists routes have been created for Tolkien fandom”, says Martin Dean, a marketing specialist at Flatfy, the company that provides tourists with accommodation around the world. 


Tip: When planning to visit Wellington, take at least 3 days to make sure you visit all of the locations. A tour at the Weta Workshop alone will take 1 day. Also, ask the locals to help you get around town to find the best Wellington tours. Kiwis are very friendly and will gladly help you. 




2. Queenstown

To see more of the beautiful locations that Peter Jackson used for both LOTR and The Hobbit, travel from Wellington to Queenstown. Not too far from NZ’s adventure capital, you’ll find many familiar locations such as:

• Skippers Canyon - An iconic place, where Arwen drowned ringwraiths to save Frodo. You’ll recognize it right away when you see it. However, travelling to this place is quite an adventure, and includes a 1-hour ride along a dangerous road upon a steep cliff. Scary, but worth it. 
• Lake Alta - Every LOTR fan remembers how the Fellowship entered the Mines of Moria. The area around Lake Alta was used to film these scenes. 
• Paradise aka Glenorchy - Isengard gardens from the LOTR and Beorn’s house were both filmed at this location. Beautiful scenery and breathtaking views. 


Queenstown’s website provides more information on all the filming locations around town. Tours are available every day, giving fans the opportunity to visit multiple locations at once. 


This is also a great opportunity to explore some of the other epic adventures the region has to offer like jet boating, skiing, hiking, and much much more.


Tip: It is recommended to visit filming locations around Queenstown in summer. For one, in winter, Lake Alta freezes, which makes it impossible to fully experience this filming location. 




3. Matamata

For die-hard Tolkien fans, this is a place to die for. This is Hobbiton. 


The Hobbiton Movie Set was created by Peter Jackson specifically to show the lifestyle of Hobbits, as Tolkien pays a lot of attention to it in the books. Now, the Shire is the most popular place for Tolkien fans to visit. Today, Hobbiton Movie Set offers the following attractions:

• Tours in several languages.
• The Shire’s Rest Café and Store, where you can buy lovely gifts to remember your journey.
• The Green Dragon Inn, which also organizes different events and provides accommodation. 


Here, you can also celebrate International Hobbit Day, Hobbiton Beer Festival, a Hobbiton Christmas and many other unique events, where you can experience the one-of-a-kind atmosphere and hospitality of the Shire. 


Tip: To save money, use transportation provided by the Hobbiton Movie Set instead of renting your own car. There’s a map on the website of the movie set, providing all the transfer details. 


Kate is a passionate writer, who also works in real estate at


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Published: 16 April 2019

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