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North Island Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Tours

Best Movie Location Tours, North Island

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The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy put New Zealand on the map as one of the most spectacularly scenic countries on the planet. The three films - The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Two Towers (2002) and The Return of the King (2003) - were filmed entirely in New Zealand between October 1999 and December 2000. More than 150 different locations were used, from the Waikato in the North Island to Milford Sound in the far south of the South Island.

This was followed up by the hugely successful "The Hobbit" in December 2012.

The rolling green farmland of the Waikato, active volcanoes of the Tongariro National Park and forests and plains around Wellington were just some of the landscapes in the North Island that were ideal for filming.

Although the actual film sets have long gone, there are several companies that will help you recreate the magic by guiding you around the areas where the scenes were filmed. Here are some recommended tours.

1. Waikato Region

At home in Middle-earth
Image Courtesy of New Zealand Tourism/Ian Brodie

LOTR Scene: Hobbiton and the Shire

Details: The setting for Hobbiton is a private farm near the small town of Matamata. Here the set has been completely rebuilt in its original location.

Recommended Tours:

  • Hobbiton and Waitomo Caves from Auckland: This is a full day excursion from Auckland to Hobbiton which also takes in the Waitomo Caves.
  • Hobbiton from Rotorua: A half day tour (4 1/2 hours) from Rotorua.

2. Tongariro National Park, south of Taupo

Mt Tongariro with Mt Ngauruhoe in the background
Image Courtesy of Malene Holm

LOTR Scenes: Mordor, Emyn Mull

Details: The barren landscape and mountains of the Tongariro National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage site) were the perfect settings for Mordor and Mount Doom.

Recommended Tour:

  • Wades Landing Tour of the Rings: Full and half day tours are available.

3. Kapiti Coast and Wellington surrounds

Escape from the Nazgul
Image Courtesy of New Zealand Tourism/Rob Suisted

LOTR Scenes: East Road, Great River Anduin, Isegard, Rivendell, Minas Tirith, Minas Morgul, Helms Deep

Details: Wellington is director Peter Jackson's home town and he made the most of his local knowledge in using many sites in the wider Wellington region. All are within an hour of the city.

Recommended Tours:

  • Wellington LOTR Locations Tour: A full day, with visits to Hobbiton Woods, Isengard, Fords of Isen, Village of Bree, Rivendell, River Anduin, Helms Deep, Minas Tirith and Dunharrow. Includes a picnic lunch in the native forest setting on Rivendell.
  • Wellington Half-Day Tour: Exploring seven of the top LOTR locations
  • Deluxe Helicopter Tour: The ultimate way to see some of the most dramatic Lord of the Rings locations. This full-day trip includes lunch at a winery

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