If you’re a fan of the Hobbit trilogy, then you probably already know that New Zealand is a hotspot for all things Middle Earth. From Lake-town to the Hobbit Holes, New Zealand is a one-stop-shop for all the sets of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.
The location is more recognisable as an aerial background landscape that can be seen in The Hobbit: The Destination of Smaug. Apart from the Southern Alps being used as a backdrop, Mount Cook is also the set location for Esgaroth, also known as Lake-Town.
Image credit: Krzysztof Golik
The stunning lakeside village of Lake-Town took place at the shores of Lake Pukaki, at the Tasman Downs Station. This location was used in many of Sir Peter Jackson’s scenes from both The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.
While it may look alluring on the big screen, it is just as beautiful when you see it in person. There is plenty of space for you to move about either on foot or by bicycle. Being completely isolated from the city areas, Tasman Downs Station has no evidence of human settlements. It’s the perfect place to become one with nature.
From the iconic high mountain peaks of the Southern Alps to the glacier fed alpine lakes and the golden fields of tussocks lying beneath the endless sky, Aoraki at Mount Cook casts a whimsical feeling that leaves all its visitors in awe. The place was so captivating that Hobbit cast member James Nesbitt (Bofur) was left impressed with the the immense natural beauty and colours of Aoraki Mount Cook.
Pelorus River, Marlborough
The tranquil beauty of Pelorus River in Marlborough is an ethereal wilderness that is inhabited by giant trees and native New Zealand bats, enveloping crystal clear waters that cuts through a rocky gorge.
Pelorus River was where the scene of dwarves escaping in barrels floating in the Forest River, as seen in The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, was filmed. Unfortunately, you can’t go floating about Pelorus River in barrels, but you can sign up for a kayaking guided river tour as an alternative. The tour is includes stops at waterfalls, streams and, of course, the barrel scene location.
Image credit: Jeff Hitchcock
Pelorus River is also surrounded by several native wildlife such as the New Zealand forest birds and the endangered native bats. Visitors who wish to stay overnight can do so by setting up camp at the Pelorus Scenic Reserve Campground, it is a great place to have a swim and have an evening bush walk to visit the nearby bat reserve.
Piopio is home to the spectacular Mangaotaki Rocks, an incredible limestone cliff formation that sits on a 690-hectare family farm that was used as a scenic film location. The cliffs and the surrounding forested hills below it formed a backdrop to a number of scenes in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
The owners of the farm, Warrick and Suzie Denize, operates the Hairy Feet Waitomo tours. The tours host numerous visitors on a 90-minute tour along the same path that was frequented by dwarves and a hobbit. Unusual smaller rock formations nestles in New Zealand’s native bushes filled with song birds. The entire landscape will take you back in time and into Middle Earth.
If you’re a fan of Middle Earth, you would not want to miss the rolling hills of The Shire, also known as Hobbiton. Previously utilised for filming purposes, Hobbiton has remained open to public. You can walk around the neighbourhood and peer over a Hobbit’s front gate or have yourself a glass of beer at the Green Dragon Inn.
There is also a number of farm stays around the area should you want to prolong your stay at Hobbiton.