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Experience the real Lord of the Rings in the South Island

16th Aug 13
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The fantasy adventure Lord of the Rings film series based on the books by J. R. R. Tolkien's were bought to life by the rugged and captivating terrain of New Zealand. And nowhere are the films more prominent than in the South Island.

The world of Middle Earth was bought to life by the landscape's architecture. The three movies, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King, were filmed simultaneously in both the North and South Islands' of New Zealand. The South Island in particular features heavily in the trilogy with the Southern Alps turning into 'Misty Mountains, the Fiordland region is home to 'Weathertop Camp' and the head of Lake Wakatipu became 'Lothlorien Woods'.

Those who are keen to experience New Zealand's Middle Earth can follow the trail down the countryside to hit all the top spots.


Lake Wakatipu took center stage as part of the ancient fairy forest of Lothlorien. The lake features in the three films, with the forest appearing as a realm of the Elves. The nearby peaks of the Remarkables set the stage as the slopes of Dimrill Dale. The fellowship is led by Aragorn to Lothlorein after the Mines of Moria. Driving through Deer Park Heights will show fans the largest Lord of the Rings location in the area. Deer Park marks the place Gandalf rode to Gondor, where refugees fled from Rohan. Another place of significance is Glenorchy, which was used for scenes involving Isengard, Lothlorein, Ithilien Camp and Amon Hen. Fans can also check out the Kawarau River, which became the River Anduin and Skippers Canyon, which featured as the Ford of Bruinen in Arwen's confrontation with the Black Riders.


The Dead Marshes came to life on the wetlands of the Kelper Mire in Fiordland. Also known as the Dismal Swamp, the wetlands sit in the Te Anau Basin, east of Lake Manapouri. Kelper Mire features in The Two Towers in aerial shots as the Dagorlad Battlefield or Dead Marshes. Also in Fiordland is Weathertop, known to the locals as Te Anau, but in Middle Earth is located in the Eriador region.


The region is home to some of the country's most stunning glaciers and scenery which made it an obvious choice for Middle Earth. Although none of the original sets are still in place, the spectacular views from the likes of Mount Sunday, the setting of Endoras, which sits nestled in the Rangitata Valley and surrounded by the Southern Alps. The original set for the valley of Helm's Deep and the city of the Rohan, was built at the top of the hill's sheer cliffs and included the likes of Golden Hall, a gatehouse, and several other buildings. 

Nelson/Tasman Area:

The Nelson and Golden Bay area are home to Chetwood Forest, which was filmed on Takaka Hill, and the nearby Mount Olympus in Kahurangi National Park provided the backdrop to Eregion Hills and the landscape of Rivendell. Mount Owen, also in the national park, was cast as the Dimrill Dale hillside.

New Zealand is a land of fantastic sights - and not just the sights you see in the movies! To learn more about our country or to get a bit of advice on the best spots to check out on holiday, chat to the team at Sunrise Holidays Campervan Hire.

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