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Lord of the Rings in New Zealand Complete Guide

When Sir Peter Jackson (PJ) embarked on his Lord of the Rings trilogy in 1999, no one could have predicted how big the films were to become. Shooting all three films at once with a budget of $281 million, it was touted as one of the most ambitious filmmaking projects of all time.

The success of the films was unprecedented. Winning a total of 17 Academy Awards and grossing nearly $3 billion, the cinematic masterpiece was embraced and celebrated by people all around the world. Middle Earth had been brought to life thanks in no small part to PJ’s incredible use of locations all around New Zealand.

Since the films’ release, New Zealand has been a must-do destination for a whole legion of new fans with many visitors keen to see and experience the world of Middle Earth. We refer to this as the “real” Middle Earth and as you’ll see in this guide, the experiences you can have are very real and just as epic as those in the films!

  • Matamata

    Matamata

    You may not have heard of Matamata before today but you will have heard of Hobbiton and this is exactly where you’ll find it! The Hobbiton Movie Set experience is easily the most popular Lord of the Rings activity in the country and o

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    You may not have heard of Matamata before today but you will have heard of Hobbiton and this is exactly where you’ll find it!

    The Hobbiton Movie Set experience is easily the most popular Lord of the Rings activity in the country and one of the most highly rated tourist attractions too. The Hobbit Holes have been wonderfully maintained with 44 of them to explore that were used in the films!

    As well as this there is a cafe, a gift shop and the Green Dragon Inn where you can enjoy a refreshing Hobbit Ale! For the ultimate experience, you can indulge in the Evening Banquet Tour which includes the best feast in Middle Earth!

  • Wellington

    Wellington

    You can’t talk about Lord of the Rings or filmmaking in New Zealand without mentioning Wellington, or “Wellywood” as it became known during the production of the films. Not only is it where they did a lot of the soundstage

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    You can’t talk about Lord of the Rings or filmmaking in New Zealand without mentioning Wellington, or “Wellywood” as it became known during the production of the films.

    Not only is it where they did a lot of the soundstage shooting as well as location shooting in places such as Mount Victoria (Frodo’s “get off the road!”), the Hutt River (River Anduin) and Kaitoke Regional Park (Rivendell). It’s where Weta Workshop is based, the birthplace of all the amazing props and costumes used in the trilogy.

    You can visit the workshop via the Weta Cave in Miramar where you can go on a Workshop Tour and/or Miniatures Tour to see all their great work on these films and more. There are also plenty of souvenirs to buy and life-sized models to take awesome selfies with too!

  • Queenstown

    Queenstown

    With so much of the films having been shot in the South Island, you need a good base from which to explore and Queenstown is the perfect spot. Queenstown’s been a tourist hotspot for years with its beautiful scenery and surroundings,

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    With so much of the films having been shot in the South Island, you need a good base from which to explore and Queenstown is the perfect spot.

    Queenstown’s been a tourist hotspot for years with its beautiful scenery and surroundings, many of which were chosen for the films. Skippers Canyon (Arwen’s River of Horses), Lake Alta (Dimrill Dale) and the Twelve Mile Delta (Ithilien Camp) are all within close proximity.

    As well as this, there are a number of operators offering movie location tours (which we’ll talk more about later) to save you finding these and others yourself!

Another iconic landmark of the films (and New Zealand) is Tongariro National Park which served as the backdrop of Mordor and Mount Doom in the films. Mighty, immense and awe-inspiring, visitors find them a breathtaking sight and the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is one of the best day hikes in the country.

Best Lord of the Rings Activities

There are plenty of things to do that will easily fill up an itinerary for your Lord of the Rings adventures in New Zealand. Some of these are specific Lord of the Rings activities whilst others are things you can enjoy in a Middle Earth setting.

Lord of the Rings Filming Locations

The great thing about our Lord of the Rings filming locations is that many of them are very accessible for locals and tourists to visit. It really does allow you to do the ultimate self-guided tour of Middle Earth.

To help you, we’ve included a few map locations to many of these below!

Middle Earth at its most spectacular

To get featured in a big Hollywood blockbuster as a film location, you have to be pretty spectacular and PJ found some that were above and beyond. Below are some of the most breathtaking!

Best Lord of the Rings GO Play Activities

One of the many great things about being a GO Rentals customer is that you get a GO Play Card which entitles you to discounts at attractions all around the country!

In keeping with the Lord of the Rings theme, we’ve selected activities which are related to the world of Middle Earth (in one way or another).

Rent the perfect car for your adventure!

Recommended vehicle for your Middle Earth adventure!

PREMIUM 4X4

HYUNDAI SANTA FE

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Our Santa Fe has city style and the power to match any New Zealand landscape.

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