Hobbiton New Zealand

Journey Through Middle Earth

Join me on a whimsical journey through Middle-Earth, better known as the enchanting land of New Zealand. I invite you to embark on a magical adventure to the stunning locations that served as the backdrop for the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movie series.

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As you wander through the majestic forests, climb the soaring mountains, and marvel at the glistening lakes and waterfalls, you’ll feel as though you’ve been transported straight into the world of J.R.R. Tolkien’s beloved novels. Every step will take you to a place of myth and legend, where hobbits, elves, dwarves, and wizards roam free.

Follow in the footsteps of Frodo and Sam as we journey to the heart of Mordor, gaze upon the mighty Mount Doom, and explore the breathtaking landscapes of Mount Aspiring National Park. Or, traverse the rolling hills of the Shire, and savor a pint at the Green Dragon Inn in Hobbiton, where the hobbits of the Lord of the Rings lived in peace and harmony.

Whether you’re a die-hard fan of the movies or simply a lover of natural beauty, New Zealand’s stunning landscapes will take your breath away. So, come along on this whimsical adventure as we explore the magical locations that brought the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit series to life. Let us start off on the North Island of New Zealand as we explore the Shire!

The Shire

Hobbiton the Shire

Photo by Ricardo Helass on Pixabay

Hobbiton The Shire

Photo by Tobias Stonjeck on Unsplash

Embark on an adventure that lies just 2 and a half hours South of Auckland. Here you’ll be able to see the magic of Middle-earth brought to life. Come and explore Hobbiton, nestled in the heart of the Waikato region. You can step into the lush pastures of the Shire, just as seen in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. Let your imagination run wild as you explore the charming hobbit holes, the bustling market, and the iconic Green Dragon Inn. Be sure to have lots of space on your cameras and phones as this is one you definitely need your camera for! How tranquil!

Hairy Feet Waitomo 

Next up, we continue our journey South, however, still on the North island. Venture to New Zealand’s breathtaking Denize Bluffs farm, where you can immerse yourself in the world of Middle-earth. Take a tour through the very location where Peter Jackson, director of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, filmed the most location screen time for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Marvel at the towering limestone cliffs, wander through a primeval native forest, and gaze in awe at the massive rock formations that served as the backdrop for Trollshaws Forest and the home of “Sting” near Waitomo. You’ll feel as though you’ve been transported straight into the pages of J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic tales.

Mount Doom

Mount Doom Middle Earth

Photo by Matthew Buchanan on Unsplash

The towering Mt Ngauruhoe is a true icon of New Zealand, with its classic conical volcano shape. However, it’s important to respect the local Maori customs and culture by not climbing to the summit. The peak is sacred to them, and it’s also not a safe hike due to loose rocks that can easily become dislodged.

Despite this, you can still experience the majesty of this active volcano on the North Island of New Zealand. Mt Ngauruhoe was famously used to depict Mount Doom in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. However, to honor the sacred Maori traditions, scenes featuring the mountain’s peak were digitally altered. But don’t worry, you can still get that iconic picture you’ve been dreaming of! 

Gollum’s Pool

Gollums pool middle earth

Photo by @ribeirochris_ on IG

As we continue making our way South on the North island, we get to the stunning Mangawhero Falls. This 92-foot-high waterfall is a true natural wonder and will leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

But that’s not all – did you know that this picturesque spot was also featured in The Lord of the Rings – The Two Towers? That’s right, the Mangawhero Falls and its surrounding area served as the Forbidden Pool in the film. And if you look closely, you may even recognize the spot where Gollum attempted to catch some tasty fish in The Lord of the Rings – The Two Towers.

Next up, we head to the very southern end of the North island to Rivendell.


Rivendell middle earth

Photo by Michael Krahn on Unsplash

Located at the southern tip of the North Island, the Kaitoke Regional Park was chosen as the filming location for Rivendell and the Fords of Isen in The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy. The park boasts a remarkable elvish vibe, accentuated by the play of light filtering through the ancient trees. Immerse yourself in the serene atmosphere and relish the magical aura that echoes the essence of the house of Elrond.

Path Of The Dead 

Path of the dead middle earth

Photo by Sébastien Goldberg on Unsplash

Peter Jackson and his crew selected The Pinnacles as the filming location to depict the Paths of the Dead in the third movie of The Lord of the Rings series, The Return of the King. Devoted fans of Tolkien’s work and the film flock to this site to step into the shoes of Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas as they traversed the Dimholt Road to awaken the army of the dead.

Cave Of Collectibles: Lord Of The Rings Style

lord of the rings middle earth

Photo by Douglas Bagg on Unsplash

Come and explore the world of movie magic with a tour of Weta Workshop. Discover authentic props, armor, weapons, costumes, creatures, and miniatures from your favorite films, including The Lord of the Rings, King Kong, and District 9. The Weta Cave offers a wide range of collectibles, prop replicas, books, jewelry, movie memorabilia, and more, all designed by Weta Workshop. Take a look at their mini props showcase, take a photo with their life-sized sculptures, and watch their exclusive documentary during your visit. Now this is your last stop on the North island, you will now continue your journey on the South island.

Pelorus River

Pelorus River middle earth

Photo by @monique_kortoef on IG

Get ready to immerse yourself in the magical world of The Hobbit with a visit to the stunning Pelorus River as your first stop on New Zealand’s South island! This iconic location was the film set for the thrilling barrel scene in The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, and it’s not hard to see why. The crystal clear waters flow through a rocky gorge, surrounded by lush forest and capped off by an unforgettable bridge.

Peter Jackson hand picked this location for filming, and it’s easy to see why. The river’s solid rock shoreline and surrounding forest with a sandy beach make it the perfect spot for the barrels to come ashore. You can explore the paths and forests around the river, or even take a refreshing dip in one of the many swimming holes. Not going to lie the barrel scene is one of my favorite scenes from the entire franchise.

Meet The Ring Maker

lord of the rings ring maker middle earth

Photo by Git Stephen Gitau on Pexels

Get ready to step into a world of fantasy and magic! Jens Hansen, the brilliant ringmaker, was handpicked by none other than Peter Jackson to bring to life the iconic One Ring on the big screen. Now, you can experience the wonder for yourself by visiting the very same shop where the ring was created! And the best part? You can even buy one of your very own and hold a piece of movie history in the palm of your hand! So, what are you waiting for? Come on in and let your imagination run wild!

Salisbury Falls

Salisbury Falls middle earth

Photo by @akindnature on IG

Salisbury Falls featured in Peter Jackson’s famous trilogies, and is the film site where Tauriel and Legolas meet before heading into Lake-town in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

Salisbury Falls is located 30 minutes from the Collingwood township, on the way toward the Heaphy Track. Parking is available on the side of the road and a short 5 minute walk will take you to the river.

Helm’s Deep

Helm's Deep middle earth

Photo by Ken Cheung on Unsplash

During the filming of The Two Towers, this unassuming quarry underwent a remarkable makeover. It served as the filming location for two major fortresses in Middle Earth, Helm’s Deep and Minas Tirith. The quarry also played a pivotal role in the iconic final battle scene in the movie.

The epic confrontation at Helm’s Deep, widely regarded as one of the greatest battles in cinematic history, required an arduous 120-day shoot that took place predominantly at night, amidst harsh weather conditions.


Rohan middle earth

Photo by @somedayisnow_rtw on IG

Nestled in the expansive Rangitata river valley within New Zealand’s Southern Alps, Mount Sunday is a steep and imposing hill that served as an ideal location for the filming of Edoras, the capital city of Rohan. Interestingly, the hill derives its name from the fact that boundary riders from the high-country stations would gather here on Sundays.


Twizle Gondor

Photo by @aceofnz on IG

Gondor middle earth

Photo by Tonia Kraakman on Unsplash

Discover the location where several scenes from the Return of the King were filmed by taking a Lord of the Rings tour in Twizel. This setting served as the backdrop for Gondor, and the largest day of filming for the movie involved over 1500 actors and crew members. By embarking on a tour, you’ll have the opportunity to visit some of the iconic filming spots and witness the magic of Middle Earth come to life.


Nestled amidst the desolate Raggedy Range in Central Otago, the Poolburn Reservoir is an artificially created lake that played a role in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. The Poolburn Dam, which forms the reservoir, served as the filming location for Westfold, the Rohan territory in the movie.

Middle Earth Waterfalls

middle earth waterfalls

Photo by Hernan Perez on Unsplash

Follow in the footsteps of Bilbo from The Hobbit by embarking on a journey through a magical valley to reach the Middle Earth Waterfalls. Your adventure begins with a thrilling helicopter flight that lands in the valley, where you’ll embark on a brief trek through native fields and rolling high-country farmland. Experience the transformation as the landscape evolves into glaciers and cascading waterfalls.

Upon reaching the valley, prepare to be awed by the majestic Middle Earth Waterfalls, which tower an impressive 1,000 meters high. These waterfalls were featured in the movie when the characters departed Rivendell to continue their quest.

River Anduin- Kawarau

River Anduin- Kawarau lord of the rings

photo by @soul_andpilates on IG

The sparkling Kawarau River was utilized as a filming location for the River Anduin in The Lord of the Rings. This is the very spot where the Fellowship journeyed south from Lothlorien, paddling their way towards the colossal statues of Argonath, famously referred to as The Pillars of Kings.

Skippers Canyon

skippers canyon middle earth

Photo by @hamishx on IG

The Skippers Canyon Jet Boat Tour stands apart as the only excursion that offers a chance to witness historical gold mining artifacts still present in the river, as well as Lord of the Rings filming locations. It is widely regarded as the quintessential jet boat ride to undertake while in Queenstown.

Helicopter Ride Over Middle Earth

middle earth

Photo by Sulthan Auliya on Unsplash

helicopter middle earth

Photo by Julie Clarke on Unsplash

With their team’s first-hand experience of the breathtaking movie locations from the famous Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies, you can trust that you’re in good hands with their most skilled pilot, Alfie Speight. You’ll soar over the picturesque Shotover River gorge, which served as the setting for ‘Ford of Bruinen’, as well as other iconic locations such as ‘Isengard’ and ‘Lothlorien’.

The tour culminates in two high-altitude landings, one on a glacier near the ‘Misty Mountains’, allowing you to experience what it might be like to cross ‘The Redhorn Pass’, and another to immerse yourself completely in the stunning alpine scenery.

Mount Aspiring World Heritage National Park

middle earth mount Aspiring

Photo by Andreas Sjövall on Unsplash

A locally owned and operated family business that has been providing unforgettable experiences since 2005. Join them on a half-day journey deep into Glenorchy, Middle Earth, and beyond, guided by their team of experts. Their tours offer a chance to witness some of the world’s most spectacular scenery in the Mt Aspiring World Heritage National Park, as well as along the renowned Glenorchy Road – widely regarded as one of the world’s most scenic highways.

Mount Aspiring New Zealand Lord of the rings

Photo by @akindnature on IG

They take pride in being the only tour company with access to the filming locations on Arcadia Station in the Paradise Valley. Their knowledgeable and insightful local guides will share stories and secrets about the making of Lord of the Rings, Wolverine, The Hobbit, and many other iconic movies. Additionally, you will learn about the rich local history and culture, ensuring an enriching and immersive experience.

middle earth Mount Aspiring

Photo by Joel Staveley on Unsplash

As a memento of your adventure, you will come away with stunning scenic photographs and magical memories that will last a lifetime. Their tours are designed to create a unique and unforgettable experience, and they look forward to sharing the beauty of the region with you.

Orc Mound

Explore a Lord of the Rings filming location, specifically the Edge of the Fangorn Forest where the Orc mound was located.

Fangorn Forest

Fangorn Forest Lord of the rings

Photo by Bulb Creative on Unsplash

Visit Fangorn forest, the Lord of the Rings filming location where most of the forest Orc battle scenes were filmed. Keep your eyes peeled for more Orcs, oh and talking trees.

River Anduin- Waiau

River Anduin- Waiau

Photo by @soul_andpilates on IG

The Waiau River flowing between Te Anau and Manapouri served as the River Anduin in the Lord of the Rings trilogy as the Fellowship journeyed south from Lothlórien. Additionally, the towering peaks surrounding the area were used to portray the rugged terrain south of Rivendell.

Sutherland Falls

Sutherland Falls

Photo by Samuel Ferrara on Unsplash

Finally, we end of journey through middle earth at the magnificent Sutherland Falls. It is located within the Fiordland National Park and is among the tallest waterfalls in the world, with a total height of 1,904 ft (580 m). The falls are fed by water from the snow-fed Lake Quill, creating a breathtaking sight for visitors.

In Peter Jackson’s fantasy film, The Hobbit, the falls make an appearance in the background of the eagle scene. However, reaching the falls on foot requires hiking the popular Milford Track, as there are no roads that lead to the falls.

While it is possible for experienced hikers to complete the 14 1/2 mile (one way) hike from the passenger ferry in Milford Sound to the falls in one day, most people would find it challenging. Therefore, it is advisable to plan an overnight stay when hiking to the falls to fully appreciate the beauty of the area.

In conclusion, exploring the filming locations of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies is a thrilling experience for fans and movie enthusiasts alike. From the majestic landscapes of Mount Aspiring to the crystal-clear waters of the Kawarau River, New Zealand offers a diverse range of locations that bring Middle Earth to life.

Whether it’s taking a helicopter ride to the Middle Earth Waterfalls or embarking on a Skippers Canyon Jet Boat Tour, there are endless opportunities to immerse yourself in the magical world of J.R.R. Tolkien’s creations. The rich local history and culture add another layer of depth to the experience, as you learn about the region’s gold mining past and Maori heritage.

Thanks to the Tripio app, exploring these locations has never been easier. With a comprehensive guide to all the filming locations and insider tips from locals with first-hand knowledge of the movies, the app provides a seamless and immersive experience. So, pack your bags and get ready to embark on a journey of a lifetime to the beautiful and magical world of Middle Earth. Create your own custom itinerary on the Tripio app now or use the itinerary created for you by Guru Desi Ficklin- https://e5215.app.link/trip/2375

I hope you have enjoyed my blog on journeying through Middle-Earth. Download the Tripio app now and start creating your very own custom itinerary for your dream vacation. Travel has never been so easy. Get Tripio to generate a custom top 10 just for you. Your dream vacation awaits and it’s as easy as downloading the Tripio app. Our travel experts have spent countless hours researching destinations so you don’t have to. What are you waiting for? You shall pass! I will see you in our next destination, till then keep traveling!

Interested in more filming locations for other hit movies and series, check out: Explore The Real Wizarding World Of Harry Potter

and Game Of Thrones, Northern Ireland: Winter Is Coming!

-Researched by Desi Ficklin, Tripio Guru

Written by Gemma Winchester, Tripio Guru

Download the free Tripio app on iOS and Android!

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