The massively successful Lord of The Rings trilogy continues with the hotly anticipated release of the next trilogy of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. And avid fans will be in no doubt that one of the stars of the movie is the absolutely stunning scenery of New Zealand.
Although The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit author JRR Tolkien was English, the director of the trilogy, Peter Jackson, chose to set the films within the atmospheric landscapes of New Zealand, which has firmly established itself as the home of ‘Middle Earth’. The fictitious lands of Hobbiton, Lothlorien and Rivendell once again come alive on the big screen. In fact more than 250 locations with New Zealand were used for filming, thanks to the natural landscapes of deep valleys, steep mountains, golden plains, majestic waterfalls, lush forests and ancient glaciers.
Hobbiton; Matamata on New Zealand’s North Island
Hobbiton is THE location to be to truly capture the essence of the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. Hobbiton is a village within the Shire that sits on the stream and features in many key scenes. In real life, Matamata on the North island of New Zealand was used as the movie setting. Just two hours south of Auckland is a bustling hotbed of movie action, where film set tours have become big business and an absolute must for any Tolkien fan. Matamata is in the Waikato region and the lush green pastures and undulating hills lend themselves perfectly to the location of Hobbiton and The Shire. The movie set tour includes exploration of the 44 hobbit holes including the residence of Bilbo Baggins, Bag End, as well the famous Green Dragon Pub, the village mill and the legendary Party Tree.
Matamata was once a sleepy farming community and the last 10 years has drawn some 1.9 million visitors keen to experience this untouched paradise for themselves.
Mordor; Tongariro National Park
The region of ‘Mordor’ where Sauron resides was actually set within the Tongariro National Park. This was the ideal setting thanks to the mighty volcanoes of Tongariro, Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe as well as crystal lakes, natural hot springs and lush alpine meadows. It’s said that Tolkien based Mordor on the Stromboli volcano in Italy. Today the 80,000 hectares of Tongariro is UNESCO protected.
Isengard Fortress; Queenstown
Queenstown is situated on the shores of Lake Wakatipu which in itself offers fantastic year-round adventure activities such as sky diving, skiing, rafting and canyon swinging. And the lakes and mountains Queenstown are now also firmly on the film set map with fortress Isengard set here.
Just north of Queenstown is Earnslaw Burn in Glenorchy which lent its stark glaciers, steep waterfalls and valleys to the Hobbit set and is said to represent the Anduin Valley in middle earth. The village of Bree is set in the Paradise and Arcadia Station areas which also featured as the Lothorien forest in the Rings.
During the awesome 500 day production of the Lord of The Rings the crew based themselves out of New Zealand’s capital city Wellington. The city will also host the world premiere of The Hobbit. This is the perfect base to discover the rest of the country with plenty of culture on offer at the museums, art galleries and theatre. This is also an outdoor enthusiasts paradise with sea kayaking, mountain biking and trekking on offer across the magnificent landscapes. Wellington is also known as the foodie hotspot of the NZ with a plethora of cafes, restaurants and delis offering fantastic food.
Other filming locations across New Zealand
The Mangaotaki and Denize Bluffs were used as the setting for the Trollshaw Forest.
The rapids of the Aratiatia Spillway in Taupo were used for a scene where barrels come crashing along the waters. The Pelorus River also assists when Bilbo Baggins escapes via the perilous waters.
Many other destinations such as Strath Taieri, Mount Aspiring National Park and Greenstone Station are all reported to feature in the movie.
When you watch the film, see how many locations you can spot and name!
The Hobbit Trilogy Release Dates
14 December 2012 – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
13 December 2013 – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
18 July 2014 – The Hobbit: There and Back Again
By Julie Bowman