In recent years, for many visitors to New Zealand its landscape is totally synonymous with one of the greatest cinematic successes of recent years: The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
The otherworld landscapes the film characters inhabit are drawn from a whole raft of locations spread all over the country. Peter Jackson, the film’s director first read J.R.R. Tolkien’s works when he was eighteen years old and immediately saw a resemblance between Middle Earth and his native country. Many years later when he was tasked with directing the trilogy, his chosen location just had to be New Zealand.
The scope and range of the locations employed in the film is breathtaking, and has spawned an industry all of its own. For film buffs looking to plan a trip to these fantastic places, a great reference book is Ian Brodie’s The Lord of the Rings Location Guide Book, which goes into fascinating detail about the locations used, and even gives exact GPS coordinates.
If you don’t fancy striking out into the wilderness yourself, then why not enlist the help of one of the many tour operators based in Queenstown on the South Island. Organised tours often combine trips to the film locations interspersed with other exciting activities such as jet boating,horse riding or helicopter trips.
Surprisingly, there are a good number of locations spread around the capital city of Wellington – a destination often overlooked by tourists. From the summit of Mount Victoria you can immerse yourself in woodland and re-enact the Hobbits escape from the Nazgul. Or, why not catch a movie at the Embassy Theatre in the centre of town, where premieres for all the trilogy films were held.
If it’s peace and quiet you’re looking for, just head out to the beautiful Kaitoke Regional Park, located an hour’s drive out of Wellington in Upper Hutt. Kaitoke was depicted as the home of Rivendell and it took 30 workers a total of 4 months to construct the film set, which was only used briefly for a couple of scenes in the actual film. The set has long since been dismantled and the local landscape left in pristine condition. Jackson went to extraordinary lengths to set the mood of his film, based on the belief that the breathtaking scenery would help his actors totally immerse themselves in the action.
Movie Horses NZ – For a spectacular insight into filming behind the scenes and heart- stopping displays of horsemanship.
Lord of The Rings Location Guide Book, by Ian Brodie.