14 Day - Lord of the Rings (Hobbit) Filming Locations

New Zealand Hobbiton tours

New Zealand is known as Middle Earth for its Lord of the Rings trilogy and now The Hobbit movies being filmed here in 2011 and 12. New Zealand born Peter Jackson filmed the entire three “LOTR” films in various locations around New Zealand. This Academy Award winning trilogy of films (four Oscars for The Fellowship of the Ring, two Oscars for The Two Towers and 11 Oscars for The Return of the King – including Best Film and Best Director awards) not only showcased the skills of the cast and crew but also the country…. New Zealand.

This two week self-drive tour reveals that the mythical Middle-earth really does exist in the dramatic scenery, wide open spaces, rare flora and fauna of Aotearoa – ‘the youngest country on earth’.

It took two years to film the LOTR trilogy but millions of years to build the sets.

Day 1 Auckland to Matamata (Middle-earth)

Matamata is Hobbiton - New Zealand LOTR tours

‘Haere Mai’ … Welcome to Middle-earth

Having cleared customs & immigration formalities, collect your car and make your way to Hobbiton.

A couple of hours south of Auckland lies the lush farmland of the Waikato. Famous for dairying and fine thoroughbred horses. Situated on the most picturesque private farmland is the original film set for the LOTR trilogy and now again for the yet to be filmed The Hobbit. It's easy to see why these green pastures and rolling hills were chosen to portray Hobbiton and The Shire. On this two hour, the Rings Scenic Tours' guides will fill you in on all the main points of the production including the history of how the site was chosen, and if you've seen the movies as often as this chap has then it really does bring the tour to life.

Two Nights Accommodation at Kamahi Lodge in Waitomo. This is a boutique country cottage located an easy 30 minute drive to the world famous Waitomo Glowworm Caves. It offers luxury country Bed & Breakfast accommodation in a tranquil setting.

Day 2: Matamata - Waitomo

Glow worm caves Waitomo New Zealand

Today head south to the green rolling landscapes of the Waikato,  yet this is one region in particular holds more than just surface appeal… literally. For Waikato also boasts an extensive labyrinth of underground caverns that formed over millions of years.

The caves at Waitomo are one of New Zealand's most commanding wonders – a celebration of nature's work over the last one hundred thousand years. There are hundreds of miles of labyrinthine caves, glow-worms, under ground lakes, stalactites and stalagmites, and all manner of limestone crustaceans - a lost world waiting to be discovered. You can take a walking tour to see the millions of glow-worms or glide through on a barge, take a black water rafting trip, or even abseil (rappel) down into the abyss!

Choose a caving experience that suites you:

Day 3 - From the Depth's of Waitomo, into the Cauldron of Rotorua

Rotorua geysers

Your journey to Rotorua will take you through a mixture of farmland, lakeland and forest. You’ll know you’ve arrived in the city of Rotorua when you see (and smell!) the geothermal steam plumes.

Geysers, mud pools and thermal springs have been attracting visitors to Rotorua since the 1800s and the living, breathing landscape never fails to amaze. Perched on the edge of a large lake, in the crater of an ancient volcano, this picturesque city is also the heartland of New Zealand's Maori culture. With 16 sparkling lakes within 20 minutes drive of the city, as well as magnificent forests surrounding, Rotorua has earned the reputation as the North Islands outdoors adventure centre offering an exciting array of experiences.

Sightseeing and activity options include:

One Nights Accommodation at the Treetops Lodge & Estate in Rotorua. This Lodge with its’ elegant architectural style derived from this country's pioneering past; timber and stone finishes echo the beauty and simplicity of the great outdoors. A sanctuary and retreat of breathtaking terrain in 2,500 acres of secluded native forest and game reserve.

Day 4: Mount Doom - Tongariro National Park

Mount Doom - Tongariro Crossing New Zealand

Tongariro is New Zealand's oldest national park and a dual World Heritage area. This status recognises the park's important Maori cultural and spiritual associations as well as its outstanding volcanic features. It is a place of extremes and surprises, a place to explore and remember. From herb fields to forests, from tranquil lakes to desert-like plateau and active volcanoes - Tongariro has them all. Thanks to a geologically turbulent past, the area provided The Lord of the Rings crew with the perfect raw materials to create vivid scenes of Mordor, Emyn Muil, Mount Doom and the Plains of Gorgoroth.

Mount Doom, Orodruin or Amon Amarth (Mount Ngauruhoe) was a volcano in Mordor where the One Ring was forged in Sammath Naur, the Crack of Doom, a fiery chasm within the mountain. It was the ultimate destination for Frodo's Quest of the Ring.

The park also offers many hiking options from shorter walks to waterfalls and fascinating volcanic features - including the crater of Ruapehu or the eight hour Tongariro Crossing, features phenomenal volcanic scenery and fine views of LakeTaupo and Mt Taranaki.

One Nights accommodation at the Chateau Tongariro in National Park. Nestled in the shadow of three towering active volcanoes, and at the very foot of the majestic and sacred Mount Ruapehu this was the ideal place for the Actors and film crew to stay

Day 5: Mt Ruapehu via Ohakune to Wellington

LOTR Gollum

Just a short drive from Mt Ruapehu is Ohakune, home to Ithilien camp, which was filmed in the nearby bush; continue on towards Wellington, the capital of New Zealand and film base for Lord of the Rings.

Wellington is an easy 3-4 hour drive from here and to any Rings enthusiast is production Central. Home to the cast and crew for over 3 years and the base for WETA Workshops and Peter Jackson, several areas within the region were used for filming. Mt Victoria was used as the outer reaches of the shire and where the Hobbits hid to escape the Nazgul. Other areas easily reached from Wellington are the hidden refuge of Rivendell and the encampment of Dunharrow.

Wellington -The Coolest Little Capital in the world  - Lonely Planet. 2010

Two Nights Accommodation at the Ohtel in Wellington. located in the exclusive seaside neighbourhood of Oriental Bay, this is a brand new 10 room boutique Hotel. A stunning, contemporary 4 storey concrete structure, embedded into the base of a steep coastal cliff face with unique Mid-Century furnishings.

Day 6: Middle Earth Filming Locations Tour


A unique, small group, exciting full day in Middle Earth, with the exhilaration of a helicopter trip over the amazing limestone formations that formed Dimholt Road (the army of the dead).

Take lunch in the serene surroundings of a leading New Zealand winery then you will travel by road and visit the filming locations for Rivendell where Frodo recovered from his knife attack; the Anduin River where Aragorn was washed ashore after the attack of the Wargs; the Gardens of Isengard, the site of the Orcs Felling the Trees and where Gandalf rode to see Saruman; go to the Mount Victoria lookout and Hobbiton Woods where you can race to the Ferry and get off the Road; Buckland Forest where the Hobbits hid from the Nazgul/Black Riders and where they found the mushrooms on the Road; Dunharrow Rohirrim encampment; visit the quarry for the filming of Helms Deep the fortified ravine in Rohan and Minas Tirith; the location of Bree.

End the day in the district of Miramar. Miramar is production central and the home of Peter Jackson and many of the cast and crew. Your host will return you to your Wellington city accommodation.

Day 7: Nelson

New Zealand sailing holidays

After a quick 30-minute flight across Cook Strait you arrive in sunny Nelson...............

Nelson has a mild Mediterranean climate and is well known for its beaches, bush clad hills and artisans, with over 300 in the region. Harrington Brewers in Richmond brewed a special bear for Hobbiton and the scenes from The Prancing Pony. Over 20,000 litres of the brew were provided to the film crew and enthusiasts can purchase Harrington's Stout from the brewery in Richmond. Jens Hansen Gold and Silversmith in central Nelson submitted designs for the One Ring and went on to produce the 40 rings required in production, one almost 16 cm in diameter. One of the rings is on display there and you can buy copies in both 9 and 18 ct gold.

Two Nights Accommodation at Bronte Lodge in Nelson. Also known as the Country Estate has been at the heart of a family for five generations. The estate lies on the headland of Nelson’s historic Bronte Peninsula, overlooking Waimea Estuary and cradled between ocean and mountains.

Day 8: Heli Tour - Chetwood Forest, Mt Olympus and Mt Owen.

Lord of the Rings Mount Olympus

Lifting off from our Base at Wakefield we travel across to the Takaka Hill and our first location. Down below we will see the area used to portray the Chetwood Forest as the Ranger ‘Strider’ led the hobbits into the rough country east of Bree in an attempt to escape the Black Riders. Nearby is the world famous Harwoods Hole and we circle this before continuing to Mt Olympus. Crossing deep valleys we soon arrive at the strange pinnacle rock formations that were used to portray the jagged country south of Rivendell. The rough and strange country the Fellowship travel through is epitomised at these strange rocks that literally seem to grow from the side of Mt Olympus.

It was here, as the nine rested and cooked a meal, that the crebain crows of Saruman searching for news of the One Ring spied the travellers below. Hurriedly extinguishing their fire they hid behind the pinnacles in an attempt to escape discovery. After circling the locality we then continue across a dramatic mountain landscape to the Dimrill Dale at Mt Owen. Distraught at the loss of Gandalf, the remaining members of the Fellowship escape the mines and throw themselves to the ground in their grief. Filming was undertaken here for ten days and the results are one of the most moving moments in the film.

The dramatic limestone rocks here could have originated on the moon and again, are unlike any other landscape in New Zealand.

Day 9: Scenic Drive to Methven "Erewhon"

Relaxing spa at Hanmer Springs

Today is a very scenic drive, taking  you along the spectacular Buller River, through the Lewis Pass and into Hanmer Springs.............

Hanmer Springs: A beautiful alpine village blessed with a picturesque perfect backdrop, a river snakes through a broad alluvial valley nestled amongst the snow-capped Southern Alps. Take time to soak in a Natural hot spring, a walk through quiet forest or take a short mountain bike or horse trek.

Continue through the Canterbury Plains and inland towards Mt Hutt to your final destination Methven,

Methven: Dwarfed by a magnificent backdrop of mountains, this once quiet, rural village and has a lot to offer with wide open spaces, friendly people and a strong outdoors community and is integral to the filming of the LOTR films.

Two Nights accommodation at Terrace High Country Downs Resort, just outside Methven. This resort is perched on the edge of the spectacular Rakaia River with stunning views up to Mt Hutt. Enjoy a leisurely lunch before teeing off on the Terrace Downs Golf Course; this stunning 18 hole golf course is rated among the top 3 in New Zealand.

Day 10: 4WD Remote Journey into Edoras, the City of the Rohan

Lord of the Rings tours

Journey to the remote and beautiful Mt Potts high country station, home of Mt Sunday; and see how this peaceful mountain was transformed into Edoras, the capital city of the Rohan people in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Immerse yourself in the natural, unspoilt beauty of this breathtaking area with its sparkling clear lakes, glistening blue rivers and fresh, crisp mountain air. This amazing day includes 4WD access onto Mt Sunday/Edoras itself, a delicious champagne picnic lunch, full running commentary from our friendly and knowledgeable kiwi tour guides and spectacular scenery you will never forget.

Journey Highlights

  • Exciting 4WD adventure through several small streams and right onto Edoras itself.
  • A guided walk to stand on the summit of Edoras and enjoy as Eowyn did, the breathtaking 360º views.
  • Behind the scenes photos of Edoras under construction - exclusive to us!
  • See the Misty Mountains and the area that formed the backdrop to Helms Deep.
  • Enjoy a delicious champagne picnic lunch
  • Informative and entertaining commentary from our local Kiwi guides
  • Handle  replicas - Aragorn's Sword, King Theoden's Sword, Gimli's Axe, Gandalf's Staff, Flag of Rohan.
  • Selection of merchandise available for purchase.
  • See for yourself why the actors and crew fell in love with this stunning location.

Day 11: Aoraki/Mt Cook (Cloud Piercer) onto Queenstown

Aoraki Mount Cook

Descend towards the stunning glacial fed lake of Tekapo. Stop to view the tiny Church of the Good Shepherd, built of local stone and oak in 1935. Travel up the western side of Lake Pukaki to the Mt Cook National Park, a World Heritage listed site. Mt Cook is Australasia's highest mountain at 3764 metres. The park covers over 70,000 hectares of breathtaking alpine scenery and is also home to the Tasman Glacier; the longest in the Southern hemisphere.

Some sightseeing options for an afternoon visit are:

Looking towards the Alps from the town of Wanaka, at the end of the lake you can see the backdrop used when Gandalf flew to Rohan with Gwaihir after his rescue from the Orthanc. Take a drive past Glendhu Bay, Treble Cone Ski Field towards the head of the Matukituki Valley and onto Queenstown, New Zealands Adventure Capital

Three Nights Accommodation at the Sofitel in Queenstown. Providing exceptional personal service, the hotel truly embodies the Sofitel concept ‘art de vivre’ - the art of living. Designed to take your breath away, Queenstown’s most exquisite guest rooms feature Sofitel “MyBed”, separate rain shower and spa bath for two and the luxury of a personal espresso machine, under floor heating, broadband and Wi-Fi connection and DVD player with surround sound to name a few.

Day 12: 4WD Safari of the Scenes

Lord of the Rings safari tours New Zealand

Explore the magical side of New Zealand and understand why this beautiful country was chosen to portray Middle-earth. The Queenstown area featured prominently in the filming of the incredibly popular Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The perfect tour for those that want the thrills of an off road adventure but also want to discover exciting Lord of the Rings film locations. The Wakatipu Basin tour takes you to The Remarkables, which were used as various mountains throughout the trilogy including the Misty Mountains. Travelling part way up this beautiful mountain range you get a birds eye view onto Deer Park Heights, which was used for the refugees of Rohan and the Battle of the Wargs scenes.

Travelling from The Remarkables we head to the Kawarau Gorge where the filming took place for the Argonath, or Pillars of the Kings. Leaving the Kawarau Gorge the trip heads to Arrowtown where the loss of The One Ring at Gladden Fields was filmed. Near Arrowtown you will experience some true off road adventure. Following a historic gold mining road up the Arrow River you will cross the river to get to the Ford of Bruinen. At this point you can indulge in morning or afternoon tea and try your hand at a spot of gold panning.

From Arrowtown you will travel to the entrance of Skippers Canyon where you will be offered spectacular panoramic views of the Wakatipu Basin and over Skippers Canyon.

Day 13: Remote Locations Scenic Flight

Scenic flights over New Zealand's Southern Alps with Glenorchy Air

By air, see the locations for the river Anduin, Ford of Bruinen, the Rohan camp at Dunharrow and Nen Hithoel, where Frodo saved Sam from drowning. Included is a landing and bush walk at the location of Lothlorien, the battle of Amon Hen, where Boromir is struck down, Fangorn Forest and Saruman’s Tower at Isengard...................

As we take off we climb high above the Kawarau River. This was one of the locations for the River Anduin, which the Fellowship travels down in their boats after leaving Lothlorien. The Pillars of the Kings stand out to all devotees of the film.

From there we fly by the side of Coronet Peak to view Skippers Canyon from the air. The location formed the backdrop to the Ford of Bruinen, where the Black Riders are swept away by the flood.Then we fly to Mount Aspiring and recreate the first scene from the Two Towers "The Foundations of Stone" finishing this part of the tour by Mount Earnslaw and overhead Paradise. This was a location for Lothlorien, where the Fellowship meet with the Lady Galadriel and Celeborn; the Battle of Amon Hen, where the Orcs attack the Fellowship and Boromir is killed; and Isengard, where Gandalf meets with Saruman in the garden and is later imprisoned on the top of the tower. Where Gandalf challenges the Balrog on the Bridge of Khazad-dum, as we decend to land at Glenorchy the Grant and Jura glaciers are visible as is Dan’s Paddock, where Gandalf’s ride to Isengard was filmed.

After taking off from Glenorchy we arrive over the Greenstone Valley, the location of Dunharrow. Another 10 minutes flying takes us over Mavora Lakes, the location of settings such as The Lawn of Parth Galen, where the Fellowship landed after their voyage down the Anduin; the lake of Nen Hithoel, which Frodo And Sam paddled across after Frodo is accosted by Boromir and they leave the Fellowship; and Amon Lhaw, where Frodo and Sam land after paddling across Nen Hithoel.

Day 14 Free Day - Depart Queenstown or Extend your holiday?

Hobbit feet - New Zealand is LOTR

Queenstown boasts adventure activities in all forms, from extreme to relaxed exploration. Here you can take a thrilling jet boat ride, pan for gold, raft the white water rapids, take a wine trail, fish for trout, play golf or 4WD sheer canyons. It is also a great base from which to explore the Fiordland National Park, gateway to the awesome Milford & Doubtful Sounds. There are numerous activities from which to choose and your Tour Host will be pleased to offer advice and help you in your selection.

Here is a selection of the many options available:


Greenstone maori tiki

Please take the time to view our “Virtual Tour” for the 14 Day LOTR tour or download/print the detailed “Tour Dossier”. Both can be found on the right hand column of this page. Alternatively you can simply contact us. For a comprehensive list of all activities available in each location featured in this tour, please refer to the "Destination Guide" found at the top of this page.

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