8 Best Middle-earth Locations in New Zealand Every LOTR Fan Must Visit In 2022


Farah Fazanna •  Sep 27, 2022

The new Amazon TV series The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power, may be from a time before the hobbits, but New Zealand remains the life force of Middle-earth, synonymous with the fictional land traversed by elves, dwarves and other captivating mythical creatures. Step foot into the perfect backdrop for the cinematic trilogy and learn behind-the-scenes information as you discover Middle-earth for yourself with these nine experiences ?

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1. Explore the Shire at the Hobbiton Movie Set 

Credit: Sara Orme

It’s impossible not to compare New Zealand to Middle-earth. In the heart of the Hamilton Waikato region, you can explore the lush pastures of the Shire with a guided walking tour through Hobbiton itself. The rolling green hills and lush Matamata farmland show clearly why Sir Peter Jackson chose this privately owned family farm to create the village of Hobbiton in 1998 ?

Experience it for yourself as you witness the real-life set up close, walk the same path as your favourite characters, grab a drink at The Green Dragon Inn, get a photo in front of a hobbit hole and dance under the Party Tree. Hear behind-the-scenes tales from the filming and feast like a hobbit on the Evening Banquet tour.

Address: 501 Buckland Road, Hinuera, Matamata, 3472 New Zealand


2. Visit the Weta Cave and Weta Workshop 

Credit: Weta Workshop

Wellington’s Miramar suburb is home to the Academy Award Winning company that produced the special effects, costumes and creatures from The Lord of the Rings, brought to life at the hands of creative geniuses such as Sir Richard Taylor and his team. Witness up close the artistry behind filmmaking creativity and discover the people, processes and props that bring the imaginary worlds to life. The experience offers an exclusive insight into the creativity and imagination that goes into crafting the art of Weta. Perfect for LOTR die-hard fans! 

Address: Level 5, 88 Federal Street, Auckland 1010

Opening hours: 9.45am - 7pm (Daily, except Christmas Day)


3. See the real ‘One Ring’ at Jens Hansen Contemporary Gold and Silversmith 

Credit: Jens Hansen Jeweller

Visit the makers of the world’s most famous ring! The movie's Academy Award Winning Art Direction team first approached the late Jens Hansen about making the infamous One Ring in March 1999. Jens submitted 15 prototypes in a variety of weights and finishes, and from this extensive collection, the final movie ring design was selected. 

Did you know that more than 40 variations were used in the filming of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies? Whoa! Unfortunately, Jens passed away before he could see them come to life on the big screen, but his sons have continued his legacy and one original ring is on display in the store. For true fans, you can take home your very own ‘precious’ replica. Elvish engraving is optional! ?

Address: 320 Trafalgar Square, Nelson 7010, New Zealand

Opening hours: 9am - 5pm (Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Monday), 10am - 5pm (Wednesday). Closed on Sunday


4. Witness the Real-Life Locations From Above 

Credit: Glacier Southern Lakes

Both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogies used the majestic Fiordland National Park for epic scenic shots and Glacier Southern Lakes Helicopters was the aerial film company for the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Senior pilot Alfie Speight was the principal pilot for the filming, and all of the pilots are familiar with the unique landscapes that appear in the films so you’ll be sure to get insider secrets from behind the scenes!

Soar into the air and above giant fiords, spectacular waterfalls and towering mountains, over the Shotover River gorge recognisable as the Ford of Bruinen as well as Isengard, Lothlorien and Dimrill Dale. Land high on a glacier alongside the Misty Mountains and get a sense of what it might be like to cross The Redhorn Pass. 

Address: 35 Lucas Place, Queenstown Airport, Frankton, Queenstown 9300, New Zealand


5. Step Foot in the Exact Same Locations as the Cast and Crew

Credit: Miles Holden

The Queenstown region played host to an abundance of filming locations, and a number of tours will take you to the exact same spot where the cast and crew were stationed while filming the epic scenes. Pure Glenorchy will take you to iconic locations such as Isengard, Amon Hen, Lothlorien Forest, the Misty Mountain and Ithilien, with the opportunity to get in costume and recreate the scenes yourself ?

Meanwhile, if you’re more adventurous, Nomad Safaris will also provide you with an off-road, up close and personal look at The Ford of Bruinen, the loss of the One Ring at Gladden Fields, The Pillars of the Kings, and the exodus from Edoras and Warg Battle among many others. Hear stories and secrets from the local guides and get an insight into the epic landscapes that inspired location scouts to use these stunning vistas for filming. 

Find out more about Pure Glenorchy and Nomad Safaris.

6. See the World’s Largest Gollum

Credit: Miles Holden

Only in Wellington would you find a 13-metre Gollum in the heart of an international airport terminal. Suspended from the roof, the sculpture was designed and facilitated by Sir Richard Taylor and Weta Workshop supervisor Rob Gillies to create an unforgettable experience at Wellington Airport. There is also an installation showing Gandalf atop one of the two Great Eagles. These impressive sculptures weigh in at one tonne each with a wingspan of 15 metres! ?

Address: Stewart Duff Drive, Rongotai, Wellington 6022, New Zealand

7. Float Like A Hobbit in The Desolation of Smaug

The Pelorus River was made famous by the barrel scene in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Recreate the same journey with Pelorus Eco Adventures, who provide a kayak or canoe for you to float down the river, enjoying New Zealand’s pristine native forest and stopping at the same rocks and waterfalls as Bilbo and his friends. The dramatic beauty of the valley makes it easy to understand why this location was chosen to represent Middle-earth ?

Address: Stewart Duff Drive, Rongotai, Wellington 6022, New Zealand


8. Catch a film at the Embassy Theatre 


The grand Embassy Theatre was originally built in 1926 and was fully refurbished in 2003 for the world premiere of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Since then, the theatre has hosted the Australasian premiere of Peter Jackson’s King Kong, The Lovely Bones, and many of Wellington’s finest film and arts festivals. Not to mention it’s where the world premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was held in 2012. Head along to watch one of the movies currently showing, and soak in the atmosphere of glitz, glamour and film royalty ?

Address: 10 Kent Terrace, Mount Victoria, Wellington 6011, New Zealand

Opening hours: 9.30am - 9.30pm


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