Many people who have never visited New Zealand picture the spectacular landscapes of Middle-Earth, as seen in the Lord of the Rings Film Trilogy, when they think of the country.  Over 150 beautiful areas in New Zealand were used when filming the Oscar-winning trilogy, and they’re not all as far off the beaten track as you may imagine! Many of the locations are easily accessible from major landmarks and tourist centres.

New Zealand guided tours of the Lord of the Rings film-set are hugely popular.  Movie and literary buffs from all over the world revel in visiting the otherworldly locations of ‘Hobbiton’, ‘Mordor’ and ‘Isengard’, not only for their legendary statuses but also for their stunning natural beauty.  Whether you know the map of Middle-Earth better than you do the map of your home town, or have never seen the Lord of the Rings films before, stepping into the fantastical world of Middle-Earth couldn’t be more stunning and picturesque.

Some Lord of the Rings guided tours can take weeks to get around, but for those who are limited by time restraints and just want to see the essential locations we’ve compiled a list of the top 5.

1.   The Shire (Hobbiton), Waikato

It’s easy to see how Waikato was envisaged as the perfect location for building the quaint ‘Shire’, home of the mild-mannered Hobbits in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  Driving through Waikato it’s full of fresh, lush, rolling green hills, farmland and majestic thoroughbred horses.  Here you can visit the movie set from the film, including 44 hobbit holes, Bag End, the mill, the Party Tree and the Green Dragon pub where you can enjoy a refreshment.

2.   Edoras, Mount Sunday, Canterbury

Mount Sunday in Canterbury is arguably one of the most spectacular filming locations from the trilogy.  Mount Sunday forms a spectacular valley full of glistening areas of water and beautiful unspoilt rolling hills.  The perfect location for Edoras the capital city of the Rohan people.

 3.   Mavora Lakes

Home of Fangorn Forest and Nen Hithoel, Mavora Lakes is the location for the iconic scene at the very end of the Fellowship of the Ring film where Frodo and Sam separate from the rest of the group and sail across the lake at Nen Hithoel.  It is also the same location where Boromir died.

 4.   Mordor, Tongariro National Park

The Tongariro National Park is a stunning 80,000 hectare park of incredible diversity and natural beauty.  Its landscape encompasses meadows, lakes and springs as well as the three volcanoes Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu.  It is the volcanic plateau here that provided the ideal filming location for the eerie, sinister and dark area known as Mordor to fans of the Lord of the rings.  Rocks, cliffs and jagged ravines provided the backdrop for Sam and Frodo’s journey through the land of the evil Sauron.

 5.   Dimholt Road, Putangirua

The Putangirua Pinnacles are one of the most recognisable locations in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.  This location was used when filming ‘The Return of the King’ where they served as Dimholt Road, the road that Legolas, Gimli and Aragorn ride along on their way to meet the Army of the Dead.  This stunning and distinctive location can easily be reached from Wellington.