New Zealand, also known as Aotearoa, is the famous Middle Earth to any The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit superfan. The country has beautiful landscapes and fantastic views, ranging from high snowy mountains, green valleys, beautiful beaches, great lakes, ancient volcanoes, deep fjords, flowy hills, subtropical forests, active geothermal areas, and glaciers close to the beach.
Have you ever heard of black sand beaches? New Zealand has those! The country is so geologically unique that it is no wonder that many filmmakers choose it as their backdrop.
Lord of the Rings Filming Locations
Everyone has heard of The Lord of the Rings, at least most Millenials and Gen Z’s have; and one of the striking factors that make this trilogy so appealing is the beautiful scenery, alongside the great storyline, of course!
Most of these places are only accessible by road, though, claims a LOTR fan who is an advocate at a car accident law firm; who suggests that you have your driving license in check before embarking on this fantastic tour abroad.
Below are seven beautiful sites in New Zealand that anyone, fan or otherwise, would enjoy visiting.
1. Tongariro National Park
Consisting of 3 major LOTR sites, Tongariro National Park is technically the primary setting for the land of Mordor, East of Gondor, where the evil Sauron was the ruler. The most epic of these sites has to be the 2291m tall Mt. Ngauruhoue, depicted as Mount Doom.
The filmmakers incorporated fiery digital effects seeing as the mountain itself hasn’t erupted since 1975. The local Maori people also consider it a very sacred place, so much so that it hindered direct filming. As much as the views from the top of the mountain are so breathtaking, you ought to be careful, though, as the mountain peak is extremely ashy.
Another famous site is the highest peak, Mt Ruapehu, whose slopes depict Emyn Muil, which borders the Anduin River. A notable scene that saw Isildur chopping the Ring off Sauron’s finger happened here, and it is also where the hobbits got lost.
To anyone who thought Hobbiton was fictional, you’re not alone. Hobbiton is in the Matamata region in Waikato, North Island. Actual places you can visit are the village in The Shire, and Bag End, while drinking in the Green Dragon, and dancing under the Party Tree. And even though filmmakers demolished most structures, you would still be pleased to see the remaining ones as well as the beautiful green valley.
3. Putangirua Pinnacles
Putangirua Pinnacles is a national park, small in size, formed by rock pinnacles that were brought about by water erosion. This was the environment depicting The Paths of the Dead, also known as Dimholt Road.
Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas, the representatives for elves, dwarves, and man respectively, went to awaken the army of the dead. This was shown in Return of the King, the third film in the trilogy. While visiting here, locals advise tourists to be wary of falling rocks and water hazards; and make sure they have suitable hiking footwear.
4. Kawarau Gorge
This gorge is one of the most stunning locations used in the Anduin River sequences. Despite the actual location lacking the two mighty stone statues known as The Argonath or the Pillars of the Kings as depicted in the film, it is perhaps the most recognizable by fans. In the Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo and company quest to destroy the One Ring through the gorge towards Mordor.
5. Mount Sunday
Mount Sunday sits in a massive windy valley that towers over the short grass and shrub around it below. The filmmakers had to build the great Rohan village of Edoras and the stunning Golden Hall from scratch, though they had to demolish it later to restore the site’s natural beauty. As incredible as Mount Sunday is, some critics still claim it’s too tiny for portraying Edoras accurately as in the books.
Middle Earth Is Vast
Middle-earth, arguably the most fully-realized imaginary environment in literature, was depicted entirely in New Zealand. Filmmakers used many locations, and while we haven’t highlighted them all, they are equally as breathtaking, seeing as this tiny island country is one of the most beautiful places in the world.