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Written by Bhavika G on September 1, 2016 Share on

New Zealand across the sets of LOTR, The Hobbit & Pete’s Dragon

Location, location, location. Despite how much it seems like a real estate mantra – it is indeed a line that the best of feature films have sworn by. Cue Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and Pete’s Dragon. All shot at the spectacular place that New Zealand is. Join us on the overwhelming race of pictures that will bring to life sets of these iconic films – let’s give Pete’s Dragon some time though. At PickYourTrail packages, we have these locations on our ‘best places to visit’ list, including enchanting New Zealand tour packages. Want to add them?


The Lord of the Rings movie poster
Image credit – itcher

Over 150 locations in New Zealand came to life during the filming of Lord of the Rings trilogy. From mountain ranges of the Remarkables to rolling hills of Matamata, the LOTR trilogy featured some breathtaking landscapes of New Zealand. Featured below are the pick of the crop –

Matamata, North Island

Hobbiton Movie Set
Image credit – newzealand

The town of Matamata with its lush farmland and rolling green hills leaves no doubt as to why it was chosen as one of the filming locations. Matamata was used to create and potray the Shire region of Middle-earth and the Hobbiton village. The little Hobbit village will forever remain an attraction. Once here, you can explore the Hobbit houses for yourself. Maybe stroll around the village or explore the abode of Bilbo Baggins.

Wellington, North Island

Dubbed as “the coolest little capital in the world”, Wellington is cool for more than just rugged shores, artsy urban and a vibrant city life. Those aren’t the only reasons, though. Wellington has hosted many a scene from the LOTR movies.

Mount Victoria
Image credit – tagdigitalphotography

Mount Victoria’s forested area was used for filming the Hobbiton Woods where Frodo Baggins and group hid from the Black Riders. Nestled between Moonshine and Totara Park, the Hutt River featured as the River Anduin. Gardens of Isengard, meanwhile, were featured by the rural parkland Harcourt Park. At the foot of Tararua Ranges in Kaitoke Regional Park, Frodo Baggins recovered from his knife attack from the Morgul-blade. Kaitoke featured as Rivendell in the movie.

Waitarere forest
Image credit – locationservices
Filming location of Paths of the Dead in LOTR
Image credit – flyallover

Further up the coast from the Paraparaumu town, the Waitarere Forest played the Osgiliath Wood. Frodo, Sam and Gollum walked here after taking leave from Faramir, brother of Boromir. The Putangirua Pinnacles in the Wairarapa region featured as the haunted pass of Paths of the Dead in the White Mountains.

Nelson, South Island

Filming location of Chetwood Forest on Takaka hill
Image credit – travelpacific

On the Takaka Hill, Chetwood Forest was created – the hobbits and Ranger Strider sought refuge here from the Black Riders. Mount Olympus and Mount Owen were used to portray the valley of Dimrill Dale where the Fellowship of the Ring rested briefly after escaping from the underground complex of Moria and losing Gandalf.

The One Ring created by Jens Hansen
Image credit – mookie-crew

Interestingly, Nelson is also home to Jens Hansen. He was the goldsmith responsible for creating the 40 different rings used in the production of the movie.

Canterbury, South Island

Filming location of Edoras city on Mount Sunday
Image credit – deviantart

The fictional city of Edoras – the main city of the Rohan people – was set on the hill of Mount Sunday. The set of the city that took about nine months to be built, no longer exists. Although the location promises that some powerful magic still lingers there.

Explore for yourself. Better, let us help you out!

Mackenzie Country, South Island

Preparing for Battle of Pelennor fields
Image credit – lotr.wikia

Relive the epic battle of Pelennor Fields near Twizel in Mackenzie Country. The men of Gondor and Rohan fought against the orcs of Sauron. Although the actual battle took place on private land, touring of the town of Twinzel can be arranged.

Southern Lakes

The path to Lothlorien in LOTR
Image credit – trulytraveled

The village of Glenorchy featured in opening scenes of the second LOTR movie, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. The road from Glenorchy to the rural locality of Paradise featured as Lothlorien, the fairest realm of elves. The beech forest that features as Elveland lay, according to the book, between Misty Mountains and river Anduin.

Filming location of Ford of Bruine
Image credit – avalook

The Arrow river, besides which lies Arrowtown, was potrayed as Ford of Bruinen. Another memorable location is the Wilcox Green region where the Gladden Fields – the place where Isildur lost the One Ring – scenes were filmed.

View of the Argonath
Image credit – wallpapersxl

From Chard Farm winery you can spy on the location of the Anduin river and Argonath (Pillar of Kings) which was digitally generated.

Front view of Mount Cardona
Image credit – carrier

For a panoramic view of the Middle -earth, drive up to the summit of Mount Cardona. River Anduin and the Pillars of Argonath will – if your imagination is wild enough – will frame the left side of your view. In the hills straight ahead lies the valley of Dimrill Dale. Farther from this view you can catch a glance of Amon Hen on the shore of Nen Hithoel – featured by Mavora Lakes.


Waiau River between the towns of Te Anau and Manapouri was portrayed as River Anduin. The river is surrounded by high peaks that were used to represent the southern region of Rivendell.

Filming location of Fangorn forest
Image credit – discovertheloop

Takaro Road near Te Anau is bountifully surrounded by trees on both of its sides. Scenes showing Fangorn Forest were filmed here.


The Hobbit films have been shot across the varying landscapes of New Zealand – some of their filming locations often colliding with that of Lord of the Rings movies for the obvious reasons. Here are some sets we couldn’t take our eyes off –

Matamata, North Island

Martin Freeman in The Hobbit
Image credit – thedailybeast

The rolling hills of Matamata were once again used for its little hobbit houses. Look forward to visiting the party tree, and the Green Dragon Inn and every other quirk that awaits you at Hobbiton.

Piopio, North Island

The Mangaotaki Rocks in Piopio
Image credit – discovertheloop

The Mangaotaki Rocks in Piopio with its looming cliffs, limestone rocks and the prehistoric forest was a perfect setting for portraying the Trollshaws Forest and Staddles Farm in the scenes of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Gandalf bestowing Bilbo with Sting, Radagast’s arrival and the attack by Gandabad Wargs and Orcs – all these scenes were shot here.

Turoa, Ruapehu

Filming location of the Lonely Mountain
Image credit – thelandofshadow

In the Tongariro National Park lies Turoa, a popular ski field. In The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, though, this became the setting for Hidden Bay – the entrance to the Lonely Mountain. Its rocky slopes and intervals of grass tussocks was a perfect setting for filming the Hobbit land.

Twizel, South Island

The town of Twizel
Image credit – backpackerguide.

In the charming mountain town of Twizel, some scenes from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey were shot. A portion of the Gandabad Wargs and Orcs chase was filmed here.

Mount Cook, South Island

Mount Cook
Image credit – worldfortravel.

The alpine wonderland that is Mount Cook and its surrounding areas were used as a backdrop while filming The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Queenstown, South Island

Waterfalls from the Earnslaw Burn glacier
Image credit – keyword-suggestions.

The numerous waterfalls emerging from the glacier of Earnslaw Burn were pictured in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey as Bilbo Baggins and The Company continues on their quest from Rivendell.

Te Araroa walkway
Image credit – highlux

Mavora Walkway and Passburn at the Te Araroa walkway were used for filming the approach to Misty Mountains, a section of which is open to the public.

Dwarves floating on barrels scene in The Hobbit movie
Image credit – bloggyroz

Pelorus River was chosen to film the scene with dwarves in barrels in The Bobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. You can have your share of water-side excitement with a guided kayak tour. We’ll get you to it, talk to us!

Lake Pukaki, Mount Cook, South Island

Laketown from The Hobbit movie
Image credit – inspiring

Lake Pukaki near Mount Cook is fed by glacial lakes, lending its waters a vibrant blue hue. This in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug came to be where Laketown was shot.  The Braemar Station at Lake Pukaki in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was used to portray the epic Warg Chase and approach to Rivendell. Misty Mountains were also filmed here.


The endearing retelling of 1977 musical that narrates the tale of child and a dragon that rescues him. Very Jungle Book like you might feel. We agree. But it does have one thing that Jungle Book didn’t – visuals from New Zealand. That in itself might be a good enough reason to catch this movie. Bringing to you enrapturing visuals from this endearing tale –

Rotorua, North Island

Redwoods Forest at Rotorua
Image credit – nomadsworld

Redwoods Forest in Rotorua was chosen to film the forest scenes of Pete’s Dragon. The spectacular view of the Redwoods surrounded by the lakes of  Rotorua made for the perfect shooting location.

McLaren Falls Park, Bay of Plenty

McLaren falls park as featured in Pete's Dragon
Image credit – newzealand

The scene where Pete encounters a bear, followed by Elliot scaring the bear away to protect Pete, is filmed at McLaren Falls Park, a ten minute drive from the Bay of Plenty region.

Queenstown and Paradise, South Island

Deer Park Heights
Image credit – foreignpixel

At the alpine resort town of Queenstown, right below The Remarkable mountains at Deer Park Heights, Pete in Pete’s Dragon watches as the dragon, Elliot emerges from a cliff top to fly over him.

Tapanui, Lower South Island

The transformation to Millhaven
Image credit – newzealand

The little town of Tapanui was transformed, for Pete’s Dragon, into a small American logging town called Millhaven.

Wellington, North Island

Scene from Pete's Dragon featuring forest on Mount Victoria
Image credit – variety

The lush forested area of Mount Victoria was used for filming many of the Pete’s Dragon forest scenes.

Thirty minutes from Wellington is the Battle Hill Farm Park, where the scene involving Pete jumping off a cliff only to be rescued by Elliot was filmed.

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