Most of the locations down on the South Island were a lot harder to get by – they were too remote, only reacheable by foot or on private land. We really wanted to hike the Milford Track, partly to see the Sutherland Falls which is the location of the Eagles’ Eyrie, but found out much too late that you had to book accommodation in the huts along the track to be allowed to walk it, and as it was all sold out it was left for another time.
Pelorus Bridge & Salisbury Falls
Two places that look very similar, which is why they were both used in the scenes with the dwarves in barrels being chased down the river after the escape from the forest elves. Both are quite easily accessible, and my partner even went out for a swim at Pelorus – wonderfully clear water, and seems like it was quite the popular bathing spot. At Salisbury we were able to stand in the exact spot where Legolas and Tauriel stood looking after the dwarves after they had escaped, which I thought was quite cool.
The mountains behind Punakaiki were used as a backdrop in the dwarves-in-barrels chase scene. This means there’s hardly anything very recognisable here, but the rock formations were quite interesting to have a look at.
Whenever we were in Queenstown we stayed at a campsite a little outside the city called 12 Mile Delta. We later found out that this place was used in the Lord of the Rings as a location for Ithilien. We stayed there for probably a month and never walked down to have a closer look at the area because we didn’t know! However, the mountains in the background (the Remarkables) will look familiar as they were used in the movie.
I went for a 3 hour horse ride called ‘Trilogy Loop’ (Lord of the Rings) with Dart Stables in Glenorchy. The loop is 22 km long, and the guide pointed out locations of Amon Hen, the Misty Mountains and the background used for Isengard. Unfortunately I couldn’t log the exact locations as I was on horseback after all. Instead I took a bucketload of photos, which I for some reason forgot to do at many of the other locations we visited.. The ride takes you across a whole bunch of rivers, mostly between the mountains – fantastic experience that does feel very Middle Earth-y and fellowship-y.
This was one of those ‘difficult to reach’ spots, but we wanted to try and do an overnight hiking trip just once, and this became the chosen one. The hike starts about half an hour’s drive north of Glenorchy, and we took 5 and a half hours to walk through the forest to the campsite. It’s doable but tough, and the view of the glacier at the end is definitely a prize worth going for. We were too tired to walk all the way up close to the mountain as we had a long walk back through forest ahead of us, but we still got close enough to see the whole thing. The glacier is used as a backdrop for the dwarf company walking into Rhovanion led by Gandalf – it’s the mountain peak with all the waterfalls.
The mountains seen from Mirror Lake were used to portray the Misty Mountains in Lord of the Rings. It is such a breathtakingly, stunningly beautiful area. Another part of the area was used as the remote, wild lands near the Carrock in the Hobbit movies.
Another Misty Mountains location was Mount Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand. It lies close to Lake Pukaki and the small town of Twizel, and the entire area has a distinctive look that was used in the Hobbit during the warg attack – the yellow plains with small pine trees strewn all over. Beautiful area, and I can recommend the walk to get closer to the mountain – filled with tourists, yes, but beautiful still.
Edoras is, believe it or not, absolutely real! When we were there there was no snow on the mountains, but it was still very recognisable. It’s not too far from Christchurch, although the location itself is pretty far down a gravel road, at the end of which there’s a small trail leading to the top where Edoras once stood. I thought it was awesome to actually stand in the exact place and seeing what Eowyn saw when she stood in her white dress, looking out over the valley.
Have you been to New Zealand? Anything you would like to know more about? Comment below!
New Zealand as Middle Earth: North Island
8 Things You Must Do In New Zealand
Horseback Riding in Glenorchy, New Zealand
On Road Trippind in New Zealand
The Beginner’s Guide to Hiking in New Zealand