Lord of the Rings filming locations
Where was The Lord of the Rings filmed?
The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies were filmed exclusively in New Zealand. The selected locations offer natural wonders so beautiful that visitors feel as if they are in a different world. Perfect for bringing J.R.R. Tolkien's fictional universe of Middle-earth to life.
What are the exact Lord of the Rings locations?
There are about a dozen Lord of the Rings locations across New Zealand's North and South Islands, from Matamata in the north to Fiordland National Park in the south. New Zealand is a safe country that is easy to explore on your own, but you could also choose to join a guided Lord of the Rings tour. Below you will find the places every LOTR fan should add to their bucket list.
Fiordland National Park
Untouched nature visited by Frodo and Sam
Parts of The Lord of the Rings trilogy were filmed in Fiordland National Park, located in the southwest corner of New Zealand’s South Island. Fiordland was chosen as the filming location because it is a remote and rugged area that is relatively untouched by humans. The area is made up of dense rainforest, deep valleys, and tall mountains.
Parts of Lord of the Rings that were filmed in Fiordland National Park include the Misty Mountains, the Elven Forest, and the Ford of Bruinen. Specific scenes filmed in Fiordland National Park include when Frodo and Sam are crossing the Dead Marshes and Misty Mountains. The Marshes were filmed at Lake Mach, a deep lake surrounded by steep mountains and lush rainforest. The lake is also known for its clear blue-green water, which provided the perfect visual setting for this scene.
The Shire, home of the hobbits
Matamata was the location for filming the Shire scenes in The Lord of the Rings. The rolling hills and lush green pastures perfectly match J.R.R. Tolkien’s description of the Shire. The area also had a unique feature that made it an ideal location for filming: the Kaimai Range. This imposing mountain range provided a natural backdrop for the Shire scenes, making the area look even more like Tolkien’s description. Filming took place primarily at the Hobbiton Movie Set, but several nearby farms and the rural regions were also used for filming various scenes from the movies.
The Battle of the Pelennor Fields
This small town in the South Island was chosen due to its vast landscapes and beautiful scenery. The area was used to represent the plains of Rohan, where Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli rode through the plains of Rohan on horseback, helping the Rohirrim cavalry fight against the forces of Mordor. As they rode, Legolas shot arrows at the approaching orcs while Aragorn and Gimli defended the Rohirrim with their swords.
It was also used to represent the Pelennor Fields, where the final battle between Aragorn and the Witch-King of Angmar took place; it was the climactic battle of the third movie, The Return of the King. This massive battle featured thousands of orcs and humans fighting in a desperate struggle to save the kingdom of Gondor. The action was filmed on a vast grassy plain in the hills of Nelson, and the scene was breathtaking. The battle was filled with spectacular special effects, intense action, and a powerful emotional impact. The scene was so iconic that it is often viewed as one of the greatest battle scenes ever filmed.
Misty Mountains and the Ford of Bruinen
The Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed extensively in Glenorchy. It was selected as a filming location due to its beautiful forests and stunning mountain peaks, making it ideal for standing in for fictional places such as the Shire, Rivendell, and Lothlorien.
The two main areas of Glenorchy used in the Lord of the Rings trilogy were Paradise and the Dart Valley. Paradise was used to film the scenes of the Fellowship's journey through the Misty Mountains, while the Dart Valley was used to film the scenes of the Fellowship crossing the Ford of Bruinen.
Filming locations, studios, and world premieres
Parts of Lord of the Rings were filmed in and around the capital Wellington because of the stunning landscapes and varied terrain. The area was the setting of the volcanic plains of Mordor and the stunning forests, rivers, and mountains of Rivendell. Common filming locations included Mount Victoria and Kaitoke Regional Park.
The city of Wellington also provided the production team with access to a number of world-class studios and post-production facilities. And the almost 100-year-old Embassy Theatre was the location of the Return of The King world premiere after being renovated especially for that evening.
Tongariro National Park
The fight between good and evil
Tongariro National Park's spectacular landscapes, including its three active volcanoes, the Tongariro, Ngauruhoe, and Ruapehu, created an excellent atmosphere for the epic fantasy realm. The park's volcanic terrain and snow-capped peaks represented the Misty Mountains and Mordor, the region where the dark lord Sauron resided.
One of the most memorable scenes filmed in Tongariro National Park is the final battle between Gandalf and the Balrog in The Fellowship of the Ring. This scene was filmed on the slopes of Mount Ngauruhoe, which provided the perfect backdrop for this struggle between good and evil. The scene was shot at the Mangatepopo Valley, located at the base of the mountain. As Gandalf and the Balrog battle, the audience can see the snow-capped peaks of the mountain in the background, as well as the rocky terrain of the valley. In the end, Gandalf emerges victorious, and the Balrog is dragged into the depths of the mountain.
Where the fellowship split up
Ashburton is located in the Canterbury region of New Zealand, and its rolling hills, lush greenery, and snow-capped mountain peaks provided the perfect backdrop for some epic scenes. The battle between the Riders of Rohan and the Uruk-hai at the end of The Two Towers was filmed in the Ashburton River Valley and the surrounding hills. The area was chosen for its beauty and vast open spaces, which made it the perfect filming location for this dramatic battle.
It was also in Ashburton where the fellowship of the Ring split up. This scene was shot on the Rakaia River, where Frodo Baggins, Samwise Gamgee, and Gollum part ways. The river banks were lined with trees, providing a dramatic backdrop for the scene.
The ancient forest of Lothlorien
The majestic mountains, lush green forests, and crystal-clear lakes surrounding Queenstown provided the perfect backdrop for Middle-earth. The area's natural beauty created an atmosphere of authenticity and realism not easily replicated in a studio.
The area of Queenstown was used to shoot several key scenes throughout the trilogy. Lake Wakatipu was used for scenes involving the ancient forest of Lothlorien, and Arwen's confrontation with the Black Riders at the Ford of Bruinen was filmed in Skippers Canyon near Arrowtown.
The maker of the actual rings
Nelson was chosen as a filming location because of its stunning landscapes and close proximity to the Southern Alps. It is also home to some of the most picturesque places in New Zealand. Apart from being the setting for many scenes, Nelson is home to ring maker Jens Hansen who made all the rings used in the movies. He has a jewelry store in town where several rings are on display.
Scenes shot in Nelson and its surroundings include the fellowship hiding from Saruman's black crows under the rock formations in the South of Rivendell and Aragorn leading the hobbits to flee from the Black Riders into the Chetwood Forest in An Unexpected Journey.
Kahurangi National Park
An exciting chase scene at the river
Kahurangi National Park in New Zealand was chosen as a filming location for its majestic beauty, with its towering mountains, dense forests, and rugged coastline.
One of the most iconic scenes in the Lord of the Rings trilogy filmed in Kahurangi National Park is the scene where Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli chase the Ringwraiths across the river. This scene was filmed at the park's Wangapeka River, which features a stunning backdrop of rocky outcrops and dense forest. The crew also utilized the park's natural rock formations to create a dramatic and exciting chase scene.
Heroes on a hill
Parts of the Lord of the Rings trilogy were filmed in Manapuori, New Zealand, due to its lush forests and rugged mountains. Manapuori is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and filmmakers alike, offering breathtaking views and various landscapes, making it the perfect backdrop for a fantasy epic.
One scene filmed in Manapuori is the scene in The Two Towers, when Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli are on their way to Helm's Deep. The breathtaking landscape of Manapuori is the perfect setting for this scene, with its stunning views of rolling hills and lush green forests. The scene culminates in the three heroes standing atop a hill, looking out over the landscape as the sun sets in the distance.