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If you are a bit of a Lord of the Rings fanatic, then you already know that the famous movie trilogy was filmed in New Zealand. Film Locations are dotted all over both Islands. It’s easy to see why as you explore more and more of New Zealand, as this beautiful country has plenty of amazing scenes that really are right out of Tolkien books. (I know, I’ve read them and spent plenty of time travelling around New Zealand).
It is no wonder that Peter Jackson chose to film the Lord of the Rings in New Zealand, with epic backdrops and plenty of accessible beautiful areas. Within 2hrs drive time of Wellington there are 7 film locations. You can also visit the Weta Workshop, who produced all the costumes, props and special affects, and the Embassy Movie Theatre, where the Lord of the Rings premiered.
You can only visit the Weta Workshop on a tour. You can also go on a tour to visit several of the locations listed below, such as Mount Victoria. A tour has the added advantage for fans to learn more about filming the movies and behind the scenes info, which is great for die-hard fans of LOTR. Alternatively you can visit each place independently, especially if you have your own transport. To visit them all would take 1-2 days depending on how much time you wish to spend at each location.
What about those who are not fans of LOTR or who haven’t seen the movies? Don’t worry about being ‘dragged’ around any of these locations as they are all beautiful and interesting in their own right. After all, that’s why Peter Jackson chose these places as LOTR film locations.
Mount Victoria As The Shire
The famous Mount Victoria lookout in Wellington is also the site of memorable scenes from LOTR, such as ‘get off the road” and ‘picking mushrooms’. Rising 196m above sea level, there are fantastic views from the top. Just be prepared for the wind, New Zealand’s capital in nicknamed ‘Windy Welly’ for good reason! You can walk or drive up Mount Vic, but exploring on foot is definitely the best way to spy out scenes from the movies.
Head to Miramer for a tour of the infamous Weta Workshop. It would be an amazing place to work and it is a brilliant place to visit. All LOTR fans and movie lovers alike shouldn’t miss it off their New Zealand Itinerary. Explore 20 years of the Weta Workshop’s clever creativity on one of their several choices of tour. It’s a great way to discover inside knowledge of LOTR. For example, that the giant mace wielded by the dead king was actually too heavy for the actor to lift? Tour prices start at NZ$28
Hutt River As The River Anduin
The Hutt River placidly meanders through the Hutt valley and meets the sea at Petone, approximately a 20min drive from central Wellington. Locals enjoy walks, bike rides, and even swimming holes along it’s length. State Highway 2 follows it’s valley through the hills, making it easily accessible from Wellington. Part of it’s stretch, between Moonshine Bridge and Totara Park in Upper Hutt was used for filming the launch site of the boats from Lothlorien.
Harcourt Park As The Gardens of Isendguard
Harcourt Park in Upper Hutt is where Gandalf and Saruman were filmed strolling along the gardens of Isenguard, way before the Orcs ripped them up to build furnaces and an army. With a large rhododendron and azalea garden, and native bush, it is a pleasant place to stroll and picnic. Find a staff and walk in Gandalf’s footsteps along the many paths.
Queen Elizabeth Park As The Battle of Plennedor Fields
Queen Elizabeth Park at Paraparaumu, just off State Highway 1 was used to film the Nazgul and Mumakil in the battle of Plennedor Fields, which was a battle for Minas Tirith and Ultimately Gondor. It is hard to imagine such a fight in the picturesque parkland. Explore sand dunes, beaches, wetlands, a tramway museum and more at the park.
Waitarere Forest As Osgilith Wood
The native Bush of Waitarere Forest, close to Queen Elizabeth park, is the film location for LOTR’s Osgilith Wood, where Faramir allows Frodo, Sam, Gollum and the one ring to walk free. The walking and biking trails are an excellent way to explore New Zealand’s native bush, while you pretend you are a hobbit on a very important quest. (Or is that just me!)
The Pinnacles As The Dimholt Road
The Pinnacles is the eerie setting where Aragon, Legolas and Gimli take the Dimholt Road to find the army of the dead, whose strength they used to over thrown evil Sauron in the final movie, The Return of the King. True to the films, strange formations of earth and rock tower from the ground creating an otherworldly atmosphere. You could spend 1hr or all day among them as you follow in the footsteps of three great heroes. Perhaps you’ll find the cavern of the army of the dead during your explorations.
Kaitoke Regional Park as Rivendell
Kaitoke Regional Park is where many scenes from Rivendell were filmed. The Stunning cliff face from the movies is unfortunately all CGI, but Rivendell is a pretty woodland area near a river and native bush walks across a swing bridge. Exploring Rivendell can be done in 15 minutes, but it’s a lovely place for a picnic and with various bush walks to choose from, it’s easy to make it a lovely day out.
Head to Wellingtons busy night spot for a bite to eat, and to see the Embassy Movie Theater, where the Lord of the Rings movies premiered. Courtenay place is alive with locals and tourists alike, eating, drinking and making merry. After all that sightseeing you definitely deserve a tasty meal out and some delicious drinks to wash it down with!
There is plenty of Lord of the Rings film locations around Wellington, and they are well worth a visit. I have been to Mount Victoria and Rivendell multiple times now, and I can’t wait to return to the Pinnacles as a family. Where is your favorite film location for LOTR?