Follow the Hobbit Trail in New Zealand

Tolkien tourism is bringing fans from all over the world to New Zealand to see the filming locations for the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Discover the real Middle-earth in all its otherworldly glory.
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Photo By: Ian Brodie

Photo By: Wellington Airport and Weta Workshop

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Photo By: Andrew Conway

Photo By: Air New Zealand

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Photo By: Tourism Holdings; thlnz.co.nz

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Middle-earth Mecca

A 2-hour drive from Auckland will lead you to the famous rolling hills of Matamata’s countryside. Here you’ll find Hobbiton, the mecca of all Hobbit tourism. Fans can visit Hobbiton Movie Set Tours, where a Middle-earth expert will guide you through the famous Lord of the Rings trilogy film set.

The Middle of Middle-earth

A giant sculpture of Gollum, created by local special-effects studio WETA, welcomes the throngs of Hobbit fans at the Wellington Airport in New Zealand. The airport terminal has also been renamed, greeting arrivals with a sign saying, "The Middle of Middle-earth." The whole airport is dedicated to Hobbit-fever -- even luggage is collected from "Baggins Services."

Port Waikato, North Island

About an hour and a half south of Auckland lies Port Waikato, the location for J.R.R. Tolkien’s Weathertop fortress ruins. The beachside settlement is also a favorite for surfers and those seeking a private retreat.

Tongariro Park

Tongariro National Park was selected by filmmaker Peter Jackson to stand in as J.R.R Tolkien’s ominous Mordor. This 300-square-mile park on New Zealand’s North Island is full of natural wonders, including active volcanoes and emerald lakes. The park’s popular Alpine Crossing was ranked one of the world’s top 10 day hikes by National Geographic.

Weta Cave

Visit the Weta Cave Museum in Wellington to see J.R.R. Tolkien’s universe come to life. Hobbit fans can meet some of the characters from The Lord of the Rings trilogy, learn about the movie’s special effects and get a sneak peek at behind-the-scenes videos. This Middle-earth mecca is open 7 days a week, with free admission.

Mt. Aspiring National Park

Mount Aspiring National Park, located in the Southern Alps of New Zealand's South Island, was a location for the fortress Isengard in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The park is a popular sport for tramping (the New Zealand term for hiking and trekking).

Hobbit-Themed Plane

Air New Zealand adds to Hobbit-fever with its Hobbit-themed Boeing planes. The “official airline of Middle- earth” also created a special flight safety video that features creatures from the mythic universe.

Chateau Tongariro

With an eerie resemblance to The Shining’s Stanley Hotel, the 83-year-old Chateau Tongariro was basecamp for filmmaker Peter Jackson and his crew, who screened footage in the hotel’s basement movie theater.

Hobbiton

Hobbiton Movie Set Tours in Matamata gives fans an inside look at the film set for the Hobbit movies. Located on private farmland, the site is also a working Angus beef and sheep farm situated in New Zealand’s richest farming area.

Hobbit Hole

Visit the Hobbiton Movie Set Tours to see where the furry-footed creatures live. There are 44 Hobbit holes on the site, which were recreated in 2011 for more Hobbit filming. The tiny Hobbit holes were remade with permanent materials, so the set can continue on as a permanent tourism attraction.

Milford Sound

One of the most-visited spots in New Zealand is Milford Sound, now even more popular due to its cameos in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. This natural wonder on the South Island is part of protected Fiordland National Park and a World Heritage site.

Westland Tai Poutini National Park

Westland Tai Poutini National Park, located on the West Coast of New Zealand's South Island, appears in the trilogy’s third and final installment, The Return of the King. The 290,000-acre park showcases a stunningly diverse landscape of glaciers, snow-capped mountains, forests and beaches.

Lord of the Rings Horse Treks

Glenorchy on New Zealand’s South Island is an area known for its horse riding and spectacular scenery. Trek on horseback 10 miles north of Glenorchy to an area known as Paradise. This rural treasure was the filming location for scenes in The Lords of The Ringstrilogy.