The perfect place to discover the real Middle Earth – New Zealand!

by Stephanie - 02/11/2010 14:42:00

Middle Earth isn’t of course a real place, but if it was then New Zealand certainly has an uncanny resemblance to JRR Tolkien’s created land.

Tolkien’s famous books were turned into famous movies by New Zealander Sir Peter Jackson, who considered New Zealand "the perfect Middle Earth".

Jackson will be following up his Lord of the Rings trilogy with the prequel movie The Hobbit, which starts shooting early next year - so that could be perfect timing if you are over there for a working holiday to snag yourself a roll as an extra! 

More than 150 different locations throughout New Zealand were used to film the ‘Lord of the Rings’: the rolling hills of Matamata became Hobbiton, while the volcanic region of Mt Ruapehu became the fiery Mt. Doom where Sauron forged 'The Ring', and Queenstown - New Zealand's adventure capital - was the setting for numerous scenes including Eregion Hills and the Pillars of Argonath. So here are some tips for where you can find you own perfect part of Middle Earth in New Zealand.


Specialised Lord of The Ring tours on the South Island will take you by 4WD into the remote back country of Canterbury and the Rangitata Valley to Mt Sunday and Mt Potts high country station that was transformed into Edoras, the capital of the Rohan people.

Many of the locations that provided the most dramatic scenery in the movies can be found near Queenstown, such as The Remarkables mountain range, nearby lakes, vast valleys, forests and fiords - which movie-goers would know as Isengard, the Misty Mountains and the Ford of Bruinen.

This southern region is home to rare wildlife, ice-age glaciers, rugged mountains, deep lakes, meandering rivers and native forests - yet all within a short distance of adventure sports and city life.

Other Middle Earth tours on the South Island cover the Nelson region which provided locations for Chetwood Forest, Rivendell and Dimrill Dale.


Hobbiton and the Shire were filmed in lush farmland near Matamata, in the Waikato region. The working sheep farm with its rolling green hills where filming took place for the triology is currently undergoing redevelopment as it prepares to welcome back the Hobbits - although tours of the famous set are still operating.

Mount Doom, also known as Mt Ngauruhoe, is one of three volcanoes in the North Island’s central plateau and you can take the same path as Frodo and Sam by walking the Tongariro Crossing. The walk is often described as one of the best one-day walks in the world and the 17km trek passes volcanoes, steaming fumaroles, jagged lava flows and crater lakes.

Wellington is home to Peter Jackson’s Weta Workshop, Weta Digital and the Miramar film worshops that will again be central to The Hobbit production. The movie business centre is off-limits to visitors, but Lord of the Rings fams can experience the Weta Cave.

Helicopter rides out of Wellington can give you a bird’s eye view over the limestone formations that formed Dimholt Road where Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli rode to meet the 'Army of the Dead'.

In virtually every region of New Zealand, you will be reminded of Middle Earth and the movie trilogy.

The numerous conservation areas that provided locations for Lord of the Rinds are also listed on the New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC) website, where you can find detailed information of which scenes were shot where, GPS coordinates, Google map links, access roads, parks and reserves, and ideas for short walks in the vicinity.

- Got any tips for New Zealand working holiday makers on Lord of the Ring locations? Let us know in the comments!

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