Discover the dramatic scenery of Middle Earth with a trip to New Zealand, where the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the upcoming Hobbit trilogy were filmed. Although in the books, Middle Earth is a mythical land inspired by J. R. R. Tolkien’s childhood adventures in rural England, director Peter Jackson’s home turf, New Zealand, proved the perfect setting for the re-creation, with more than 150 locations around the country featured in the films. Here Purple Travel investigates where to go for Hobbit Holidays
Visit The Shire
Aside from Hobbiton, which is nestled in green hills near Matamata, the exact locations of the new films however, remain a closely guarded secret. Hobbiton Movie Set Tours (www.hobbitontours.com) allow travellers to experience sights such as the arched bridge, Party Tree, and a horde of Hobbit homes including the home of Bilbo Baggins, Bag End. Matamata was the perfect choice of setting for the peaceful region of the shire, with its rolling hills and emerald green grass. It is one of the richest agricultural and pastoral areas in the world, characterised as a large fertile basin through which the Waikato River flows. The Waikato region also offers superb caving and black water rafting.
Journey to Mordor
The Taupo region was the filming location for Mordor, Emyn Muil and Mount Doom. In Return of the King, Frodo and Sam climbed Mount Doom and you can do the same while walking the Tongariro crossing, often described as the best 1-day walk in New Zealand. Diverse hiking paths wend amid the peaks, with guidance available from the National Park visitor centre (www.doc.govt.nz). It’s a challenging walk taking 7-8 hours, taking you past volcanoes, steaming fumaroles, jagged lava flows, the red Crater and Emerald Lakes. The Taupo region does however have more to offer than lakes and volcanoes, the region is also known for its fantastic trout fishing, world-class luxury lodges and ski fields.
Get Lost in Rivendale
Another LoTR location was Canaan Downs, a hilltop reserve between Motueka and Golden Bay in the Nelson region of New Zealand. Used as the location for Chetwood Forest (where Aragorn leads the Hobbits soon after they leave Bree), here you will find ancient beech trees bordered by rolling meadow sprinkled with ghostly rock formations. Takaka Hill was the location for Chetwood Forest, found at the entrance to Abel Tasman National Park. It is the only place in the world besides Italy where rocky marble outcrops exist. The Nelson region is also known for its wide-open spaces, beaches, lakes, national parks, vineyards, gourmet cafes, artists, galleries and boutique shopping.
Spend time with Sauron
South Island’s vast unpopulated landscapes, including Mount Cook, three hours of Christchurch, provided the perfect backdrop to Sauron’s battlefield. The incredible Mackenzie basin, made up of gold-gilted grasslands, dreamlike blue lakes and the theatrical Southern Alps, staged the epic battle at Pelennor Field. Twizel lies just down the road from Mount Cook/Aoraki National Park, where most scenes of The Two Towers were filmed. Canterbury is an alpine region containing New Zealand’s largest peaks and glaciers, the perfect location for alpine fortresses and Middle-earth battle scenes. Mount Sunday, a rocky outcrop on the Canterbury plains next to the Southern Alps, was the location for Edoras and Meduseld. The Canturbury plains are the largest plains in New Zealand and the Southern Alps are the biggest mountain chain in Australasia, even bigger in area than the European Alps.
Have a Pint at the Prancing Pony
Wanaka is a charming resort town in South Island’s Otago region. Here, you can see the backdrop used for Gandalf’s flight to Rohan with Gwaihir after his rescue from Orthanc. Wanaka was also the location for the River Anduin, Golden Plain, Lothlorien, Pillars of the Argonath, and Dimrill Dale. And the best bit? On the road between Queenstown and Wanaka back in 1892 is the Prancing Pony, actually called the Cardrona Hotel. The pub brews its own beer, offers excellent meals and has a large, toasty open fire.
While rumour is rife as to where exactly the Hobbit film locations are, we are sure that suspicions will turn into specifics sometime in the near future. Stay tuned…