7 Lord of the Rings locations you can actually visit

Let's open with a question: besides providing the world with approximately 7000 hours of Middle Earth-based entertainment (if you happen to be watching the extended cuts), what is the most significant effect Peter Jackson's epic Lord of the Rings trilogy has had on the world?

The correct answer is the impact the films have had on little New Zealand. Jackson's decision to film the entire epic in the country of his birth has transformed it from 'that boot shaped place near Australia' into one of the world's most popular holiday destinations.

From Hobbiton to Mordor, you can tick off all the major stops Frodo and his Fellowship visit in a single trip, as long as you keep up a faster pace than a procrastinating Ent. We're going to explore some of them right now but, just like drinking pints of mead in Bree, it's a far better experience in reality.

New Zealand as seen from space. (Source

7. Hobbiton

Where else would you begin a jaunt through Middle Earth but Hobbiton? The set was built, or for the most part grown, on Alexander Farm near Matamata. The farm itself is private, but tours to the filming location are available.

For the capital of an entire race, it's not that impressive.
Rob Chandler - Source

 A year's preparation was required in order to cultivate all the various crops and plants that give Hobbiton its lush onscreen appearance, and that's before accounting for all the time spent making those delightfully whimsical Hobbit-hole doors.

Unfortunately, if you're expecting to see those little round entrances dotted throughout the landscape and want a chance to bump your head in a hilarious manner on bespoke Hobbit ceilings (just like Gandalf!) you're going to be disappointed.

Only Sheep live here now.
Rob Chandler - Source)

The interiors were filmed on a different set, and even the facades have been left to be reclaimed by the land. Around half of the original holes remain, but the area is now populated by sheep rather than Tolkien's creations.

Longing for a more complete Hobbiton experience? Read on...

6. Hobbiton 2: Hobbitier

Putting the original Hobbiton out to pasture was never going to help a new-found, Rings-related tourism boom.

 A prime tourist attraction.
(Rob Chandler - Source)

Happily, New Zealand has been given a chance to put things right now that Jackson has returned to film the Lord of the Rings prequel, The Hobbit, and has built a brand spanking new Hobbiton for the purpose.

The finished attraction will boast forty-four complete Hobbit holes, and even the Green Dragon pub. Everyone to the Party Tree!


The PARTY TREE! (Rob Chandler - Source)

5. The Shire

As we all know, no sooner have our intrepid Hobbits ventured out of Hobbiton for a spot of carrot stealing than karma comes crashing down on them like a ton of Mithril.

The view the Nazgul were treated to when
chasing the Hobbits. (PhiloVivero - Source)

 Unfortunately for them, this involves an intense game of cat and mouse (or Nazgul and Hobbit) through the woods and trails of the Shire.

Fortunately for us, this route is one of the most accessible of all the locations on this list, as it's actually located in Wellington's Town Belt park.

 Evil mist. (Phillip Capper - Source)

You're far more likely to encounter dog walkers and joggers than Ringwraiths, though, as the picture above demonstrates things can get 'spooky' in Wellington's Town Belt park.

4. The Ford of Bruinen

Well, that's what huge nerds (like us) know this location as. It's more likely to be remembered as the 'You want him? Come and claim him!' scene, or 'that bit where Liv Tyler somehow manages to come across as a bit of a badass'.

Can you spot a Ringwraith? (YSander - Source)

In other words, it's the river where Tyler's Arwen summons a handy magical wave made of horses to sweep away the Ringwraiths chasing Frodo and friends.

This is Shotover River near Arrowtown (which already sounds like a location in a fantasy novel) and, while you're unlikely to see any horse-waves when visiting, it is still undeniably one of New Zealand's more picturesque spots.

If the Nazgul had had a jet boat,
Frodo would've been toast. (Alex Proimos - Source)

3. Rivendell

There's nowhere better to stop for a rest after being relentlessly pursued by malevolent beings bent on your destruction than the Elvish capital, Rivendell.

Not particularly 'Elvish' in reality. (Rudolph89 - Source)

In the real world, Rivendell is the Kaitoke Regional Park and, while it may not contain the digitally added elements found in the films, its natural charms do plenty to compensate.

The park boasts over 2800 hectares of forest, two rivers, camping spots and even treetop walkways. If that's not enough to justify a visit, the section used for filming includes a special exhibit explaining the construction method and how the final result was achieved.

New Zealand  is not the best choice
if you don't like trees. (Lanma726 - Source)

2. Lothlorien

If you're still hungry for more prime elvish real estate, Fernside Lodge should more than satisfy your cravings. That's because it was the location used to create Lothlorien, home of Elven Queen Galadriel and her giant elven ears.


Don't forget your costume. (foaloce - Source)

If you've had enough of elves, Fernside also contains the location used for Smeagol's battle with Deagol over ownership of the One Ring, making a visit all but essential.

1. Mordor and Mount Doom

The inevitable destination of both the Fellowship and anyone wishing to follow in their footsteps is Tongariro National Park. Prior to Jackson's influence, the site was known for being the fourth World Heritage site ever established, thanks to its striking scenery, which is dominated by three volcanoes called Mount Ruapehu, Mount Tongariro and Mount Ngaurahoe.

Mordor + blue sky = just wrong. (Erik Wilde - Source)

These days, it's known for being the home of true evil; lord Sauron's seat of power, Mordor.

These days, it's known for being the home of true evil; lord Sauron's seat of power, Mordor.

Be wary, Orcs may be near.
Arne Hückelheim - Source)

Such are Taongariro's Mordor-esque properties that if the area had already featured blackened skies and a scary tower topped by a huge fiery eye, then the special effects team would have been pretty much redundant in its creation.

If they'd waited around long enough, they wouldn't even have needed to provide the fires of Mount Doom, since one of the volcanoes is still active.

So there you have 7 places on planet Earth where you can get closer to Middle Earth.