The famous Lord of the Rings trilogy suddenly put New Zealand on top of the travel wish-list of many a movie-fan around the world. However, in their attempts to be eco-conscious, the film-makers made one mistake: they meticulously took down all the carefully constructed fantasy-land sets after the filming was finished, in order to leave the glorious natural settings in pristine condition.
After the veritable tsunami of hobbit-hungry fans from all over the globe hit New Zealand, with memorabilia sales and tours of the spectacular filming locations taking off like crazy, the same error was unlikely to be repeated with The Hobbit trilogy – the first part of which has just recently had its world premiere in the picturesque town of Wellington.
So here are just a few of hobbit-related attractions to look forward to when visiting New Zealand.
Wellington: The Middle of Middle-earth
To celebrate the premiere of the intensely anticipated film, Wellington has become a city transformed into a fixture of J.R.R. Tolkien’s imagination: upon arrival at the airport you’ll be greeted by…a 13 metre high statue of Gollum! The 1.2 tonne sculpture suspended from the ceiling is likely to make a definitive impression on new arrivals! Even the NZ Post got on board, with the HQ being home to no less than 13 dwarves, plus a hobbit!
As director Peter Jackson’s home town, Wellington proudly offers its own dedicated film tour. Principal photography took place here, as well as a lot of the pre- and post-production work in the film industry hub of Miramar. The region provided the locations for Rivendell, the Auduin River, The Gardens of Isengard and Lothlorein in the Lord of the Rings films, with Mount Victoria standing in for Hobbiton Woods.
If Mordor has captured your fancy and you don’t mind a bit of physical exertion, visit the Taupo region and the home of hundreds of goblins, Emyn Muil and Mt Doom. Like Frodo and Sam, you can also climb Mt Doom – during a Tongariro crossing hike, which boasts to be the best 1-day walk in all of New Zealand, with its volcanoes, the Red Crater, Emerald Lakes, and fabulous scenery complete with ongoing steam special effects and flowing lava…
This attraction is likely to become the mecca for hobbit fans: let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to live in a cute dwelling inside of a hill, with round doors, windows and spectacular views of fantasy-like countryside? Hobbiton is a movie set of the hobbit village extensively featured in the LOTR trilogy, located neat Matamata in NZ’s North Island. Lovely 2 hour tours are offered, and you can take a rest at the Shires Rest Café or a pint at The Green Dragon Inn thereafter . The additional bonus for the kiddies here is the chance to bottle feed some lambs, as Hobbiton is located on a working sheep farm.
Getting to Wellington, and New Zealand in general, has never been easier or more affordable from Australia, with so many budget flight options available, so do yourself a favour and take your family for a hobbit-worthy holiday!