New Zealand has long been famous for its stunning natural landscapes, but the Lord of the Rings and more recent Hobbit movies directed by Peter Jackson have really thrown the spotlight onto this incredible nation and its scenery.
Many of the shots of Middle Earth are familiar to film fans, who will no doubt relish being able to see these places with their own eyes. A walking tour in New Zealand should therefore be high on lots of travellers’ wish lists – you’ll find some itinerary suggestions here.
We’re going to give you an overview of some of the places you can explore on foot that were featured in one or more of the movies.
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing on the North Island is featured in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, with the range’s Mount Tongariro used as Mount Doom in the movies. This is an area of outstanding natural beauty, with amazing peaks, active volcanoes, lava flows and emerald-coloured lakes all waiting to be discovered.
This walk is one of the most iconic and striking hiking routes in New Zealand and is well worth doing. It takes a full day for the hike, which covers nearly 20 km, but the effort is more than rewarded by the countless beautiful views you’ll encounter along the way.
Fiordland National Park
Fiordland National Park on the South Island was used for many epic scenic shots in all of the movies, with its amazing fiords, tumbling waterfalls and towering peaks lending itself perfectly to the idea of a wild Middle Earth. It also provided the setting for Fangorn Forest.
This is truly an area of unspoilt natural beauty, with several walking trails you can tackle within its boundaries. One of the most famous is the Kepler Track – you can take it on in its entirety or just hike a section of the route. What makes Fiordland so special is the variety of landscapes you’ll see here – there are glacial lakes, rainforests, deep gorges and snow-capped peaks within the park.
New Zealand’s capital – and the surrounding area – lent itself to many different parts of Middle Earth, with scenes of Rivendell, Osgiliath Wood, the Paths of the Dead and Hobbiton Woods all being filmed in and around the city.
Mount Victoria, which is clearly visible from Wellington, provided the wooded slopes for the Hobbiton Woods where Frodo and company encounter the Black Riders for the first time, while Kaitoke National Park was transformed into Rivendell.
Head out of the city to the Putangirua Pinnacles, meanwhile, to see where Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli walked in search of the Army of the Dead.
The Pelorus River was used in the second Hobbit film – the Desolation of Smaug – and is where the hobbits floated down the river in the famous ‘Great Barrel Escape’. There’s a lot to explore around the region, including the Pelorus Sound and the Pelorus Bridge. Take a break from discovering filming locations to stroll along the picturesque bays of the sound – the seaside village of Havelock is particularly worth visiting.
These are just a few of the many amazing places you can visit in New Zealand on a walking tour. Whether you’re a fan of the movies or not, there’s no denying that the nation is home to some of the world’s most beautiful and varied landscapes. If you do plan to visit, make sure you allow at least two to three weeks to really get a sense of what’s on offer. There is so much to discover, you could easily spend months here and still feel as though there’s more to see.