Guest post by Ryan Pell
When creating Middle Earth and writing vast descriptions of the landscapes and nature, J.R.R. Tolkien couldn’t even fathom that only some decades after the book was released, a Kiwi director from New Zealand would make Middle Earth a real place.
Peter Jackson got to create the screen versions of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, having to face some tough times, involving insufficient funds and lack of equipment. Yet, he managed to create the movies, using different New Zealand locations, which have become iconic tourist attractions.
According to the Financial Times, 13% of tourists claimed that The Hobbit movie inspired them to visit New Zealand. Overall, when the last Hobbit movie came out, spending by international visitors grew 10%, reaching over $7 billion, which was a huge boost to New Zealand’s economy.
After The Hobbit movies were released, the flow of tourists keeps growing. And, with the ever-growing number of fans of books and movies, New Zealand has become a Mecca for the Tolkien fandom.
Let’s take a look at the most stunning locations.
- North Island Locations: Piopio, Mt Ruapehu, Wellington, Mt Victoria
One of the most notable locations on Northern Island for the Tolkien Fandom is Wellington and areas surrounding it (especially Mount Victoria). Wellington is the heart of the production of both LOTR and The Hobbit movies, with many interesting sights to see.
Not too far away from Wellington lies Mount Victoria, areas around which were used by Peter Jackson for multiple scenes. The most notable one is called “Hobbits’ Hideaway”, a location where hobbits ran away and hid from the Ringwraiths.
Among those must-see locations for the fans of the movies is Weta Workshop. The heart of beautiful graphics, prosthetics, and other stage props, this location offers great tours for Tolkien fans with the opportunity to also see those iconic swords and ammunition.
Witchking of Angmar. Prosthetics done by Weta Workshop
Image credit: Instagram
Other notable locations around the Northern Island are Piopio, a filming location from the Hobbit, where Bilbo and the Dwarves had a fight with cave trolls, and, of course, Mt Ruapehu and areas around it were used to portray Erebor or The Lonely Mountain.
Pro tip: it’s better to save a few days for visiting all these locations. Weta Workshop alone requires at least one day of your undivided attention. In Wellington, you can request a special Middle Earth tour, which will guide you through all the locations. You can find suitable accommodations with the help of companies like Booking, Flatfy, or Airbnb which offer affordable places for tourists.
- South Island Locations: Queenstown, Fiordland, Pelorus River
South Island is famous for its LOTR and The Hobbit locations as well. Queenstown, the Wellington of the South Island, also offers stunning locations to visit around it. Fiordland is one of the destinations Tolkien fans want to visit. Although it’s hard to get to and explore, this location is a must-see both for its role in the films and its stunning beauty.
Fiordland National Park, New Zealand
Image credit: Pixabay
Fiordland National Park is the home of Middle Earth’s river Anduin and Fangorn Forest. And high peaks, surrounding Queenstown were used for filming Rivendell.
Another river located in the South Island is Pelorus River, used for filming the escape of Bilbo and the Dwarves in barrels. Peter Jackson told he wanted to film a similar scene for LOTR, but due to the lack of funding, this only became possible while filming The Hobbit.
- Middle Earth Mecca: Hobbiton
This wouldn’t be a complete article about New Zealand locations for Tolkien Fandom without Matamata, more commonly known as Hobbiton. A location, scouted by Jared Connon, was not first intended to be a tourist destination. It was a farm owned by the Alexander family, and the hobbit holes around it initially were just decorations.
In 2010, the location was given a makeover and now it is one of the most popular tourist attractions and a Mecca for the Tolkien fandom. Unique houses, beautiful scenery and the atmosphere are amazing.
Bag End, Hobbiton filming location, Matamata, New Zealand
Image credit: Instagram
Hobbiton provides daily LOTR and Hobbit tours, also inviting tourists to visit various events at the Green Dragon Inn, celebrate International Hobbit Day, Hobbiton Beer Festival and even Hobbiton Christmas. This is truly the ultimate location for the Tolkien fans.
Pro tip: travelling to Hobbiton is possible from Auckland and Hamilton. If you are not planning to travel by car, there are transfers provided for tourists from Auckland, Hamilton, and Tauranga.
New Zealand is the Real-Life Middle Earth
It’s on the bucket list of every Tolkien fan to visit stunning New Zealand locations, which inspired Peter Jackson to create his unique movies. Without the beautiful nature of New Zealand, these movies wouldn’t be possible. Hopefully, the locations described in this article will inspire you to visit New Zealand and get into the atmosphere of Middle Earth.
Ryan is a passionate writer who likes sharing his thoughts and experience with the readers. Currently, he works as a real estate agent, you can check his website here. He likes everything related to traveling and new countries.