Lord of the Rings Guide to New Zealand for Fans and Their Non-fan Friends

Caitlin Barnett Assistant Director


September 22, 2019

So you're coming to New Zealand and you're a massive Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit/Tolkien/Peter Jackson fan. You can't wait to see and do all things LOTR, but you're worried that your new friends won't necessarily share in your love of Middle Earth. Then this is the blog for you - have a read of amazing filming locations that do more than just fulfill the dreams of a Lord of the Rings fanperson.

North Island

Tongariro National Park & The Central Plateau

Mt. Ngauruhoe

Also known as the iconic Mt. Doom, Ngauruhoe is part of the Tongariro National Park where there are two well-known tramping circuits, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing (1-day hike) and the Tongariro Northern Circuit (3-4 day hike). These tramps will both afford you the chance to climb Mt. Doom and you can even BYOR (bring your own ring) to throw into the fiery depths of Mordor.

Mt. Ruapehu

For those of you that love skiing, there are two ski fields on Mt. Ruapehu that were featured in the Lord of the Rings films. Whakapapa Ski Field is where you see Isildur cut off Sauron's finger in the Fellowship of the Ring. Tukino Ski Field is where Frodo, Sam & Smeagol overlook the Gates of Mordor for the first time.

Wellington & The Wairapa

Mt. Victoria

Everyone loves a steep but quick hike, especially while escaping the wrath of Ringwraiths! Mt. Victoria is where our hobbit friends are filmed hiding from the wraiths in The Fellowship of the Ring. It's really centrally located in Wellington (so it's easy to get to) and when you hike to the top you get some amazing views of the entire Wellington region!

Weta Cave & Workshop

I know what you're thinking - this isn't for everyone, it's only for Lord of the Rings fans! Well, my friend, you're wrong about that one. Weta, a practical, special & digital effects studio based in Wellington, gained international recognition for their cutting-edge practical, special & digital effects work in the Lord of the Rings trilogy in the early 2000s, but they've worked on a ton of other films as well! Think Avatar, The Jungle Book, District 9, Deadpool, Avengers: Infinity War, and so much more. This is a must-do stop for any film enthusiast.

Putangirua Pinnacles

Welcome to the home of the Army of the Dead or the Dead Men of Dunharrow. The Putangirua Pinnacles are a great day trip from Wellington so you and your friends can hike among these beautiful and just a bit creepy looking pinnacles. Bring some lunch, your camera and your best ghost impersonation.


South Island

Aoraki/Mt. Cook


Twizel is home to the noble city of men, Gondor. You can re-enact Eowyn destroying the Witch King in your best "I am no man!" voice while your friends look over the beautiful views of New Zealand's highest peak, Aoraki/Mt. Cook. There are a lot of great day hikes to catch from Twizel to explore this iconic area.

From and Around Queenstown

Kawarau Gorge

This is the Anduin River memorably featured in The Fellowship of the Ring with two enormous statues on either bank. Unfortunately the statues don't exist, but the area is beautiful for a hike, bike ride or for the super adventurous, the Kawarua Bridge bungy jump, home to the first commercial bungy in the world.

Kepler Mire

If you've ever wanted to find that creepy marsh where Frodo, Sam & Smeagol find the "dead faces in the water" then you're in luck! Pop by the Kepler Mire on your way through Te Anau while going to Milford Sound, one of the most beautiful places NZ has to offer.

Twelve Mile Delta

Remember that viral video of Sam explaining all the ways to eat potatoes to Smeagol? "PO-TA-TOES? Boil 'em, mash 'em, stick 'em in a stew."? Now's your chance to relive this moment at Twelve Mile Delta on your way from Queenstown to do a day (or more) hike along the Routeburn Track.


Perhaps visiting Isengard isn't what you envisioned Paradise to look like, but without Saruman's tower and all the orcs and Uruk-hai pits it's actually pretty beautiful! You can stop by Paradise after you boil some potatoes at Twelve Mile Delta because it's also on the way to the beginning of the Routeburn Track!

The exception to the rule

Matamata (aka Hobbiton)

Yep, you've been waiting for it. This is the one that you should visit with all of your LOTR-loving friends, Hobbiton. If you're willing to pay the entry fee (approx. NZ$84) you can get a fantastic 2-hour guided tour of The Shire and even have a drink at the Green Dragon to finish it off! For a fan it could be worth the investment, but there are all these other free (except the Weta tour) things to do to fulfill your Lord of the Rings dreams.

Articles from Backpacker Guide NZ and New Zealand Tourism were incredibly helpful in the writing of this blog post.