Like the Lord of the Rings films, The Hobbit Trilogy was filmed entirely in New Zealand, showcasing the natural beauty and unique sights found throughout the country. New Zealand's landscapes have become a top destination thanks to these movies, but even if you're not a fan, there are five locations you should not miss, the beautiful landscapes that inspired the films.
Queenstown and its surrounding towns and landscapes have been used for countless scenes in both trilogies, from Isengard, to Mordor, to Lothlorien, to the Misty Mountains and much more. You can just drive along Lake Wakatipu to see these impressive landscapes that made it to the silver screen, but if you want to get up close with nature, you can hike the Earnslaw Burn Track. Beginning in the small town of Glenorchy, this is a challenging 4-hour hike that has some spectacular views at the head of the valley over a glacier with cascading waterfalls. This precise location was used for the scene where Bilbo and The Company are filmed continuing their quest after departing Rivendell in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
The Fiordland National Park is one of the most beautiful and astonishing places in all New Zealand, so it's no wonder why both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Trilogies used this majestic location for their epic scenic shots.
This is where Peter Jackson filmed the Fangorn Forest; the deep, dark woodland full of Ents that grow beneath the Misty Mountains. In case you don't remember, this is where Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli met Gandalf the White for the first time. Jackson also filmed the scene where The Company flees the mountains on the backs of eagles in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
Beyond all the movie action, you must take a cruise along Milford Sound to see the incomparable beauty of this fjord.
Tongariro National Park became famous thanks to one specific volcano everyone now calls Mt. Doom (Mt. Ngauruhoe in real life). The volcanic nature of this area made it perfect to represent Mordor. But, it is not just Mordor anymore; the rocky slopes and grassy tussock in Mt. Ruapehu were also the setting for Hidden Bay, the entrance to the Lonely Mountain in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.
During the summer months be sure to hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing to get the best views of Mordor in this one-day hike or, in winter, go to the Turoa ski field to shush the slopes and marvel at the landscapes that once saw dwarfs, elves, and hobbits on a quest to save Middle-earth.
The beautiful Lake Pukaki was used as the location for Laketown in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. The vibrant blue color seen in the water is due to the glacial lakes that feed into the lake. In the distance there's Mt. Cook, the tallest mountain in New Zealand, which was used as the backdrop for some of the aerial shots in the trilogy.
Right by the lake, there's Braemar Station, used in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey to shoot scenic shots, in addition to the approach to Rivendell and the forest slopes of the Misty Mountains.
You can ski on Mt. Cook during winter, or go fishing, cycling, or walking around the lake during warmer months.
Last but not least, there's Hobbiton. While the hobbit holes were built for the movies, the beauty of the landscape, rolling hills, and green pastures around them is all real and original.
Hobbiton was built as a basic movie set in a farm near Matamata, and after the first trilogy became famous, the set became a popular sight among fans and non-fans alike. For the second trilogy, Peter Jackson rebuilt the set again, but this time as a permanent set where everything looks as real as it can be. Now, when you walk in Hobbiton, you really feel like you're in The Shire.
When you visit, relax and drink hobbit ale at the Green Dragon to feel like a true hobbit.
These five major locations have taken you all across the country, but are just a peek at New Zealand's impressive beauty and the filming locations that are all worth visiting.
Has a movie ever inspired you to travel? Which one and to where?
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Norbert Figueroa is an architect who hit the pause button on his career in 2011 to do a round the world trip. He's been blogging for over three years at globotreks.com, where he shares his travel experiences, budget travel tips, and a good dose of world architecture. From hiking Mount Kilimanjaro to diving with great white sharks, he is always on the search of adrenaline and adventure. Norbert is originally from Puerto Rico and he is currently based in Milan, Italy... when not roaming around the world, that is. He has traveled to more than 80 countries in 5 continents and his goal is to travel to all 193 U.N. recognized countries. Follow Norbert on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google Plus.
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