New Zealand Hobbit Sites (& Birthdays)

September 22 was Hobbit Day, the birthday of the hobbits Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, two central characters in 'The Hobbit' and 'The Lord of the Rings'. In the J.R.R Tolkien books both Bilbo and Frodo were said to be born on September 22, but of different years. Let's celebrate this birthday by looking at ten epic New Zealand landscapes where some of the greatest Hobbit and LoR scenes were filmed.

1. Putangirua Pinnacles Scenic Reserve, Wairarapa

Also known as: Paths of the Dead


The eerie pillars of Putangirua – all that remains of the Aorangi mountain range after seven million years of erosion – were reincarnated as the “Path of the Dead” in Return of the King. Click here for a blog about our visit to Putangirua .

2. Mount Ngauruhoe, Tongariro National Park

Also known as: Mount Doom


Tongariro National Park stole some of the biggest scenes in Lord of the Rings, with Mount Ngauruhoe (digitally altered) standing in for Mount Doom. Filming at the summit was not permitted because the peak is sacred in Maori culture; however, some scenes were filmed on its lower slopes. Walking in the shadow of Mount Ngauruhoe is also one of the highlights of New Zealand's most popular one-day hikes - 'The Tongariro Crossing'

3. Matamata, Waikato

Also known as: Hobbiton


“Hobbiton needed to be warm, comfortable and feel lived in,” said director Peter Jackson of the search for a location for Hobbiton, the home of Frodo and Bilbo. He settled on a farm in Matamata, and built an entire village of Hobbit proportions. “By letting the weeds grow through the cracks and establishing hedges and little gardens a year before filming, we ended up with an incredibly real place, not just a film set,” he said. In 2011, a more permanent version of the set was created for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – and it has since been transformed into a fun visitor centre, where you can have a drink in the Green Dragon and visit Bag End. Ask New Zealand Vacations about the Wednesday & Friday night dinners.

4. Fiordland National Park, Te Anau

Also known as: Fangorn Forest


This beautiful national park doubles as the mythical Fangorn Forest in The Two Towers. The park is over 2 million acres of mountains, rainforest, lakes and fiords – a spectacular location for exploring on horseback, pretending you’re Gandalf on his trusty Shadowbox.

5. Kawarau Gorge, Central Otago

Also known as: Anduin River


When the Fellowship paddled down Anduin River in the first LOTR film, they were greeted by two towering statues – and although you won’t spot them in real life (they were post-production wizardry), the area’s natural beauty packs a mighty punch.

6. Mount Sunday, Canterbury

Also known as: Edoras


This sheer-sided hill in the middle of a plain in the Rangitata River valley became Edoras (since dismantled) the main city of the Rohan people, in Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy.

7. Lake Pukaki, Canterbury

Also known as: Laketown



Stunning Lake Pukaki was chosen as the location for Laketown in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Glacial waters feed into the lake, giving it a vibrant blue color. An extensive outdoor set built for The Hobbit Trilogy (since dismantled) was created at Tasman Downs Station on the shores of Lake Pukaki.

8. Piopio, Waitomo

Also known as: Trollshaws Forest


This area in the Waitomo District provided the location for Trollshaws Forest and Staddles Farm, which feature in a number of scenes from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Denize Bluffs, a family-owned farm, was commandeered for filming on a few different occasions. The owners, Suzie and Warrick Denize, now run Hobbit-themed tours of their property, so you can picnic in the same spot where Bilbo was almost eaten by a trio of hungry trolls.

9. Pelorus River

Also known as: Forest River


Jackson chose the Pelorus River, at the northern end of South Island, to film the dwarves in barrels scene that appears in The Desolation of Smaug. Most of the scene was filmed in a studio, but the Pelorus is the real-life backdrop. You can kayak on the rapids – which is a considerably nicer experience than trying to do it in a barrel.

10. Mt Ruapehu, Turoa

Also known as: Hidden Bay


Mount Ruhapehu towers over the lowlands of the North Island’s great Central Plateau. The rocky slopes of the mountain were the setting for Hidden Bay, the entrance to the Lonely Mountain in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

Acknowledgements: The Telegraph Newspaper, UK. Travel / Destinations.

The team here at New Zealand Vacations can create Hobbit and LOTR themed vacations that include some or all of these spots, each itinerary tailor made to your individual requirements ands sense of adventure.

Lindsay Barron

Lindsay Barron • Oct 07, 2016