Travel insights from Jenna Buege, associate editor of The Compass

4 Unmissable Lord of the Rings Filming Locations

From the sunny hills of the Shire to the blazing fires of Mount Doom, the stunning landscape of New Zealand was home to some of the best Lord of the Rings movie magic. So make like Bilbo Baggins and get ready to go on an adventure as we explore these iconic filming locations.

1. Matamata

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The Shire at dusk 🌙#hobbiton #hobbitontours #nzmustdo

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What has big hairy feet, eats seven square meals a day and lives in the lush countryside? A hobbit, of course! And while visitors may not be able to admire Gandalf’s stunning fireworks display, they can embark on an adventure of their own at Matamata’s Hobbiton Village. To get an inside look at the set, book a tour with Hobbiton Tours a company that gives fans the ultimate Shire experience as they explore Hobbit Holes, frolic the 12-acre set and catch a glimpse of the world-famous Green Dragon Inn. If all that excitement has you hungry, don’t miss the chance to feast like Bilbo, Gandalf and their crew of dwarves with an evening banquet tour fit for a king hosted inside The Green Dragon Inn.

2. Wellington

They’re taking the hobbits to Isengard! And Rivendell, and Osgiliath Wood, the River Anduin, and the Paths of the Dead… Long story short, Mount Victoria’s Wellington is kind of a big deal when it comes to filming locations in the LOTR universe. Lucky for movie fans, Wellington is also one of the most easily accessible filming locations as it’s within walking distance of the city center.

Visit Wellington’s Kaitoke Regional Park where a sign marks the exact spot Frodo recovered from the knife attack in Rivendell or drive up the west coast to Queen Elizabeth Park where scenes with the Nazgul were filmed in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.

Also in Wellington is Weta Workshop, a design and effects facility that played a key role in The Hobbit Trilogy. Here, travelers can tour the Weta Cave where they’ll pose for photos with life-sized sculptures, admire prop replicas and view prints and apparel designed by Weta artists.

3. Putangirua Pinnacles

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not a ghost king in sight, even this close to Halloween 👻 #nerdzealand

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One look and there is no doubt that the Putangirua Pinnacles set the scene where Legolas, Aragorn and Gimli first encountered the menacing Army of the Undead. While terrifying on film, I’m happy to report that the iconic Putangirua Pinnacles are much less devious in real life and are available for tour just outside of the town of Wairarapa.

4. Mount Ngauruhoe

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#mtngauruhoe#tongarironationalpark #tongariroalpinecrossing#volcano #mtdoom#mordor#lordoftherings

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Explore the fiery depths of Mount Doom, aka Mount Ngauruhoe, a must-see attraction for Tolkienites. Located in Tongariro National park, Mount Ngauruhoe is accessible by foot and is often praised as New Zealand’s best one-day hike. The trek is insanely popular among LOTR fans from near and far, awaiting their chance to reenact the destruction of the one ring to rule them all but sections of the path do vary in difficulty. The journey to the base of Mount Ngauruhoe isn’t too intense and can get crowded as it offers enchanting views and perfect photo ops. Many visitors are content with stopping at the base of the Mount Ngauruhoe, however, travelers can also climb to the summit of Mount Doom. Those who climb to the top will be met with a much more challenging journey with steep inclines and slippery surfaces and the hike up takes around two hours to complete.

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