We're going on an adventure! The ultimate Lord of the Rings itinerary for New Zealand

2019-02-26 19:00 - Gabi Zietsman
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You don't need Gandalf to take you on a journey through the real-life Middle Earth of Peter Jackson and JRR Tolkien.

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While SA might have the spot claimed to be the inspiration for the epic fantasy books of the Lord of the Rings, New Zealand definitely holds the title of the movie-version Middle Earth that Frodo and his friends traversed to put an end to Sauron and his evil eye.

Pop culture pilgrimages have carved quite a niche for itself in the tourism industry, and New Zealand has monopolised the Lord of the Rings tourism market ever since it was filmed among its magical mountains and forests.

You can follow the Fellowship of the Ring from the Shire in Hobbiton through Rivendell, Gondor and Fangorn Forest until you finally get to Mount Doom in Tongariro National Park.

Just remember not to bring any orcs back with you.

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This is probably THE iconic LOTR spot to visit on the list, where both the trilogy and The Hobbit was filmed in the picturesque hill houses of The Shire. 

You can book a tour that includes a delicious second breakfast or lunch that will make any hobbit jealous.

Tongariro National Park

If you want to return the One Ring to its final resting place, this national park hosts three iconic spots in the franchise.

Mount Ngaruhoe stood in for the menacing Mount Doom, the Tawhai Falls has been renamed to Gollum's Pool and the Whakapapa Ski Field outside of season turns into the desolate Mordor.

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Kaitoke Regional Park

Get in touch with the ancient ones of Rivendell at this beautiful location where an Elvish arch still remains, which in real life was once a popular walking route for early Maori.

It's a beautiful forest of indigenous trees, rare birds and crystal clear pools where you might run into Arwen while on your journey.

Putangirua Pinnacles

You might feel a chill walking past these impressive forms moulded by nature inside Aorangi Forest Park - it was the spot where they filmed the Dimholt Road where Aragorn had to convince an army of the dead to join their cause.

It's quite an isolated place and not easy to get to, but well worth a view of this outlandish area.

READ: Maori, settlers and world-class art galleries: the cultural highlights of New Zealand

Weta Cave and Workshop

Here in Wellington, you can see what brought Middle Earth to life in New Zealand - this was where the main props, costumes, make-up and other special effects for the film franchise were made.

You'll see trolls, orcs, ents, Gollum and other mythical creatures, as well as watch a documentary on the making of and buy some sweet LOTR swag.

Jens Hansen The Ringmaker

Want your very own ring to call your precious? The man who created the infamous ring has his shop set up in Nelson.

They have a range of Elvish wedding and engagement rings, in case you feel like popping the question to your beloved LOTR nerd.


You can reenact the Battle of Pelennor Fields in the large town that also doubled as Gondor.

Just keep a watch out for Ringwraiths that might be stalking you on your adventure.

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Mount Sunday

Another human town you can visit is Edoras, city of Rohan, which was filmed on Mount Sunday - a beautiful mountain range dusted with snow in winter.

The hiking trail has been updated to accommodate all the fans that visit the site, so you can walk off some of that second breakfast you had in Hobbitton.

Kawarau Gorge

While the giant statues of the Anduin River were unfortunately created with computer graphics, this gorge is still a majestic sight to behold, paddling in the same route as the Fellowship.

Remember to pack enough Elven bread so that people don't get angsty.

QUIZ: How well do you know New Zealand?


The historic mining town near Queenstown is a popular base to do LOTR tours from, as the town and nearby river were used for a variety of shots in the film.

Most famously it's the spot where Arwen took out the pursuing Ringwraiths with a wall of water while saving Frodo from his wound - like the badass that she is.

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