Looking for a full list of Lord of the Rings filming locations in New Zealand? This post is for you! Read on for a detailed list of LOTR places you can visit and see for yourself in New Zealand, from Hobbiton to Rohan.
If you want to visit the real Middle Earth you can… well, kind of, if you go to New Zealand!
When New Zealand film director Peter Jackson brought Tolkien’s trilogy to life on the big screen, he used locations in his home country to do so.
The epic grandeur of New Zealand’s beautiful landscapes are now synonymous with Middle Earth, so much so that Air New Zealand even made a series of in-flight safety videos themed all around it!
We’ve put together this epic list of the best filming locations throughout New Zealand, so you can start planning your own journey through Middle Earth.
North Island New Zealand Lord of the Rings Filming Locations
New Zealand is made up of two main islands, called the North Island (Te Ika-a-Māu) and South Island (Te Waipounamu) as well as hundreds of smaller islands.
Most visitors to New Zealand will try to see the two main islands, or just one if they are short on time.
However, LOTR filming locations were scouted from both islands, so if you want to see as much Middle Earth as possible, we’d recommend trying to see them both!
The North Island is home to both the capital city of Wellington, as well as the most populous city of Auckland AND the Hobbiton movie set. So if you can only visit one island, then as a LOTR fan you’d probably want to head North.
Real-Life Location in New Zealand: Matamata
We’ve gotta start with the most famous and popular LOTR attraction in New Zealand; the Hobbiton movie set!
During filming of the Lord of the Rings films, this set was constructed on farmland near the town of Matamata, but later removed.
However, after the set was reconstructed for filming The Hobbit trilogy, the set was left up permanently and has now become a major tourist attraction!
As well as seeing the exteriors of the Hobbit homes you can also have dinner at the Green Dragon Pub, so it’s very immersive and amazing.
Real-Life Location in New Zealand: Mount Ngauruhoe
Mount Doom and much of the bleak-looking areas around it were filmed around New Zealand’s Mount Ngauruhoe.
This mountain is located inside the Tongariro National Park, and you can do a full day walk called the Tongariro Crossing to get a good look at Mordor in real life.
The Forbidden Pool
Real-Life Location in New Zealand: Tongariro National Park
The pool where Gollum goes fishing when Sam and Frodo are captured by Faramir was also filmed within the Togariro National Park, specifically at Mangawhero Falls.
These falls are located close to the town of Ohakune and are quite beautiful.
Gardens of Isengard
Real-Life Location in New Zealand: Harcourt Park, near Wellington
The gardens surrounding Saruman’s tower at Isengard were filmed at Harcourt Park, a park with children’s playground located in the town of Upper Hutt.
Upper Hutt is only about a 30-minute drive from Wellington, and the Gardens of Isengard are even marked on Google maps!
Real-Life Location in New Zealand: Mount Victoria, Wellington
The scenes where the four Hobbits start off for Bree, and where they hide from the Nazgul, were filmed in the woods of Mount Victoria, which is actually located within the city of Wellington itself.
There are some nice walking trails up the mountain to a lookout, so you can enjoy some hiking while you find filming spots.
Real-Life Location in New Zealand: Kaitoke Regional Park, near Wellington
Scenes at Rivendell were filmed in the Kaitoke Regional Park, which is a bit further up the road from Wellington and Upper Hutt.
You can even visit the exact spot where filming took place, as there are signs to guide you, and Rivendell is also shown on Google maps here.
The massive gate that the Fellowship walked through as they left Rivendell is still standing here as well.
Real-Life Location in New Zealand: Waitarere Forest
Up the coast from Wellington is the Waitarere Beach and Waitarere Forest, where scenes in the Osgiliath woods were filmed.
You’ll definitely get a sense of deja vu walking through the trees, and be expecting to see Sam, Frodo or Gollum next to you!
Pelennor Fields (Orc side)
Real-Life Location in New Zealand: Queen Elizabeth Park
There were two main sites used for filming the epic battle at Pelennor Fields in front of Minas Tirith, one here and one on the South Island.
The scenes featuring the orcs were filmed at Queen Elizabeth Park, which is on the coast between Wellington and Waitarere, although a lot of it was obviously edited with CGI.
If you want to see the side where the Rohirrim charged to meet the hordes of Mordor in battle then you’ll need to head to the South Island.
The Paths of the Dead
Real-Life Location in New Zealand: Putangirua Pinnacles
When Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli take the Dimholt Road to the Paths of the Dead, they were actually visiting the Putangirua Pinnacles Scenic Reserve.
This reserve is located about an hour and 40 minutes out of Wellington (but to the south-east) but it’s well worth a visit to see the massive “hoodoos” or pinnacles formed out of gravel.
The Dimholt Road is handily marked on Google maps for you to see as well.
Weta Workshop and the Weta Cave
Real-Life Location in New Zealand: Wellington
Just as you can’t miss Hobbiton, Lord of the Rings fans also can’t miss visiting the Weta Cave in Wellington!
Weta Cave is part of the Weta Workshop, a New Zealand special effects and prop company.
Weta Workshop has created creatures and makeup for multiple films and television series’ in New Zealand, including Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Xena: Warrior Princess, Heavenly Creatures (also directed by Peter Jackson) and, of course, the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies.
The Weta Cave is a museum filled with props and miniatures from all these, so it’s a must-see for fans who want to get photos with the trolls from the Hobbit, as well as plenty of souvenirs.
The Weta Cave and Workshop also offer guided tours and creative workshops, in case you’d like to try your own hand at special effects makeup, making armor or sculpting miniature figurines!
South Island Lord of the Rings Filming Locations in New Zealand
New Zealand’s South Island is larger than the North Island, and while it’s less populated than the North Island it’s also known to be filled with stunning landscapes.
Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island, but the island is also home to the Southern Alps, spectacular glaciers, famous Milford Sound and lots of exciting activities. The city of Queenstown is often called the adrenaline capital of the world!
Along with ample opportunities for bungee-jumping, sky-diving, skiing, snowboarding and the like, there are also some excellent LOTR filming locations down south as well.
Real-Life Location in New Zealand: Takaka Hill
Chetwood Forest is where Strider takes the Hobbits “into the wild” after rescuing them in Bree and it was filmed at Takaka Hill, which is actually a range of hills near the South Island’s city of Nelson.
There are some great walks and lookouts here, where you’ll be able to search for specific points from the scene.
Real-Life Location in New Zealand: Mount Olympus and Mount Owen
When the Fellowship emerges from the mines of Moria, they come out into an area known as the Dimrill Dale.
This is probably the hardest filming location for you to spot in real life, as you’ll need to take a helicopter ride over Mount Olympus and Mount Owen in order to see where it is!
While you’re up there you might also see where the group hid from Saruman’s crows before going into Moria.
Real-Life Location in New Zealand: Mount Sunday
The city of Edoras was built on top of Mount Sunday, but then removed after filming was completed.
You can still visit the recognizable hill though, and once on top you’ll be treated to stunning views of the Rangitata River and Hakatere Conservation Park.
It’s located right about in the middle of the South Island, and is even marked as Edoras on Google maps, like so many of these places!
Real-Life Location in New Zealand: near Twizel
If you’ve come here looking to see where the Riders of Rohan charged down the Pelennor Fields to meet the orc armies, then you’ll want to head to some fields located just outside the town of Twizel.
The actual fields used are on private land, but it’s possible to organize tours in the town if you want to stand on the exact spot, and hear stories about the filming of the Battle of Pelennor Fields.
Real-Life Location in New Zealand: Paradise, near Glenorchy
Fans of Galadriel and the magical elven forest of Lothlorien will be happy to explore the filming location in an area aptly named Paradise.
Near the town of Glenorchy, this area is filled with giant beech trees that feel suitably epic and elven.
Some of the filming site is on private land, but there’s a Lothlorien scenic spot marked on Google maps where you can keep an eye out for any elves…
Ford of Bruinen
Real-Life Location in New Zealand: Arrow River, Arrowtown
The Arrow River is a small river that flows into the Kawarau River.
The scenes at the Ford of Bruinen (where Arwen calls the waters up to wash away the Nazgul) were filmed just a short walk up the river from the Bush Creek Recreation Reserve in Arrowtown.
If you zoom in enough on Google maps the Ford of Bruinen is even marked.
Real-Life Location in New Zealand: Wilcox Green, Arrowtown
Not too far from the Ford of Bruinen is another filming location in Arrowtown, Wilcox Green.
This is where scenes of Deagol and Smeagol finding the One Ring in a flashback were filmed; even though it’s still the same river this area feels quite different to the Ford of Bruinen.
The fields surrounding the river here are very idyllic and it’s also a great spot to see the leaves changing colors in fall.
Real-Life Location in New Zealand: Chard Road
Further down from Arrowtown the Kawarau River was also used when filming river scenes, this time for the parts of the Anduin River where the Fellowship paddled past the Argonath.
While the actual giant statues were added in with CGI, a visit to this spot is still quite unmistakable.
There’s a lookout spot marked on Google maps just a bit up the road from where there’s also a suspension bridge where you can do bungee-jumping over the “Anduin”!
The Dead Marshes
Real-Life Location in New Zealand: Kepler Mire
When filming scenes of the Dead Marshes, where Gollum led Sam and Frodo to the Black Gate, the real-life Kepler Mire Nature Preserve was the perfect stand-in.
Also known as Dismal Swamp and String Bog, it’s the largest wetland in the Te Anau basin.
It was mostly filmed via helicopter, (with the actors filmed on set) so it’s a bit difficult to see for yourself unless you get a helicopter tour at the nearby Te Anau-Manapouri Airport.
Real-Life Location in New Zealand: Mavora Lakes
Nen Hithoel (elvish for ‘water of mist’) was the location where the Fellowship landed after sailing down the Anduin from Lothlorien.
This was where Boromir ultimately met his demise, as well as the spot where the Fellowship parted ways.
It was filmed at the Mavora Lakes, specifically North Mavora Lake, at a beautiful location that is marked on Google maps. It’s about a two hour drive from Te Anau.
Real-Life Location in New Zealand: Takaro Road, near Te Anau
Fangorn Forest was also brought to life near the town of Te Anau, although the filming location was among the trees beside Takaro Road.
Takaro Road is quite long, so if you really want to see where Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli found Gandalf the White, then you might just need to go for a drive and see if you can find a spot that looks familiar…
Parts of Rohan
Real-Life Location in New Zealand: Deer Park Heights and Poolburn Reservoir
While Mount Sunday is famous for bringing Edoras to life, other parts of Rohan were filmed at two main locations, which aren’t very close to each other, unfortunately. Poolburn Reservoir (about two hours from Queenstown) is unmistakable as the location for shots of the Westfold, particularly when the orcs attacked and the mother put her children on a horse to ride and tell the King.
Deer Park Heights, just outside of Queenstown is also very recognisable, where many scenes of the journey from Edoras to Helm’s Deep were filmed.
This site even has a map of all the filming locations on the hill.
Bonus Lord of the Rings Related Locations in New Zealand
Okay, these two locations weren’t actually used for filming the Lord of the Rings, but we definitely think all LOTR fans will want to visit them anyway.
After all, if you’re going to go all the way to New Zealand for your fandom fix, you might as well get your money’s worth!
Jens Hansen The Ringmaker
In the city of Nelson, in New Zealand’s South Island, you can visit the store where the One Ring (technically, a lot of One Rings) was created!
Jens Hansen was a Danish jeweler who moved to New Zealand and was asked by Peter Jackson to design the ring for filming.
While Jens Hansen sadly died before the films were released, his legacy continues with gorgeous jewelry, including elvish rings and other pieces inspired by Tolkien’s work.
If you’re going to buy yourself a piece then you may as well get it from studio workshop in New Zealand!
While you can visit Hobbiton you can’t actually stay overnight in the Hobbit homes (sob) but you CAN at Woodlyn Park in Waitomo.
Woodlyn Park offers few different, unique places to stay overnight, including a boat, train or plane, as well as their cave unit motel rooms which are built into the ground and look like Hobbit holes!
Did We Miss Any of Your Favorite LOTR Filming Locations?
Let us know in the comments!
Want to read some Lord of the Rings quotes? Check these out:
- Here are the best Gandalf quotes
- Here are the best Bilbo Baggins quotes
- Here are the best Frodo Baggins quotes
- Here are the best Samwise Gamgee quotes
- Here are the best Gollum/Smeagol quotes
- Here are the best Legolas quotes
- Here are the best Gimli quotes
- Here are the best Aragorn quotes
- Here are the best Saruman quotes
- Here are the best Treebeard quotes