In all the years of fantasy, few worlds have captured people’s imaginations like JRR Tolkien’s Middle Earth. The iconic Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, which was closely based on Tolkien’s legendary tale, brought that fantasy world to life by scoping out some of the very best locations in our world. Most people know that the trilogy was shot in New Zealand, but few know that many of the sites featured in the movie are accessible to travelers. Here’s a list of the best places to visit from the Lord of the Rings movies.
But first, a little background on why director Peter Jackson chose New Zealand as his base for filming. It was 20 years ago when this 18 year-old Tolkien fan traveled from Wellington to Auckland, and suddenly realized that Middle Earth was right there, outside his train window. Although New Zealand’s passenger rail service has, since then, tragically withered, Jackson has breathed new life into the area by making it the setting for the greatest tale ever told.
After three years of planning, the director began his cinematic journey to film the Lord of the Rings in October 1999, with around 2500 companions and fellow travelers. Enjoy this list of five destinations where you can experience Middle Earth.
1. Arrowtown Recreational Reserve
Arrowtown Recreational Reserve is located in Arrowtown, in the Otago region of the South Island of New Zealand. In the movie, this is depicted as the Ford of Bruinen, where Arwen shakes off the Nine and bears Frodo to the safety of Rivendell.
The Ford of Bruinen is the crossing of the Bruinen or Loudwater River, which acts as a natural defense on the path to Rivendell. Also known as the Ford of Rivendell, its waters are under the power of Elrond.
Arrowtown is located on the banks of the Arrow River, approximately 5 km from State Highway 6.
There is also road access directly to Queenstown via the Shotover Gorge and a third route via the picturesque Lake Hayes.
Tarras is located in Wanaka, of the Otago region of New Zealand. It was also used as the Ford of Bruinen.
Fernside is located in Featherston, in the Wairarapa region.
Fernside is a historic Georgian-style house offering accommodation on its grounds. If you stay here, you can see where scenes of Lothlorien were filmed. The small lake became the Silverlode River, which flows near the city of the Elves.
Heathcote Helmore, who designed the house in 1924, had worked in Lutyen’s office.
The magnificent grounds are not open to casual visitors, but can be visited through any of three different tour companies, which are listed on the Fernside website.
4. Paradise, Glenorchy, Otago
Glenorchy is one of the most popular tourist spots in New Zealand. In the movie, it was filmed for Amon Hen and Lothlorien.
It offers many tramping tracks, and lies near the borders of Mount Aspiring National Park and Fiordland National Park. The highly popular Routeburn Track can be accessed by passing through Glenorchy.
5. Hinuera Valley, Matamata
Hobbiton has become one of the main tourist attractions from the movie. The Hinuera Valley is located in Matamata in the Waikato region of New Zealand.
You can visit the Hobbiton Movie Set from The Lord of the Rings film trilogy in a fascinating two-hour guided tour.
The set has been completely rebuilt and will remain as it was seen in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
There are amazing views across to the Kaimai Ranges from the rolling green hills of the movie set, which is still a working sheep and beef farm.
You can relax and soak up the unique atmosphere with a great cup of coffee or a light meal in The Shires Rest Cafe, which is also available for functions, conferences or other occasions.