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Top 5 Middle Earth filming locations (South Island)

Part two of our Middle Earth filming locations – we’re now travelling to the South Island of New Zealand.

Having toured New Zealand on a specialised Middle Earth locations tour, I can honestly say the locations are as breathtaking in person as they are on screen. It was difficult to pick from all the incredible places but below are my top 5 locations to visit on a Middle Earth tour of the South Island! For North Island locations – check out my other blog!

Jens Hansen – Nelson

“One ring to rule them all.” The first stop on our South Island tour is in Nelson at the tip of the South Island. In this lovely town, you’ll find the creators of the One Ring, Jens Hansen The Ringmaker. A visit to the store will definitely have you parting ways with some money as you can purchase prop replicas of the One Ring, as well as other famous rings and jewellery from the movies. They also have real prop rings on display to view! Check out more information on the store and their offerings on their website.

Pelorus River

"I do hope I put the lids on tight enough!" The beautiful Pelorus River, just outside Nelson, is where they filmed the scenes from The Desolation of Smaug where the dwarves and Bilbo escape Mirkwood in wine barrels! Best way to get the full experience? In a kayak on the water of course!

Edoras – Mt Sunday

“Set upon a green terrace, there stands aloft a great hall of Men.” One of the most breathtaking views you will see is atop Mt Sunday, the site of the Rohan capital of Rohan and the Golden Hall of Meduseld. Mt Sunday is nestled in a valley in the Ashburton District, only 2.5 hours south of Christchurch. Follow in the footsteps of the stars as you trek up to the summit where the Golden Hall stood. Nothing has been left up there from filming but the view is incredible! To get to the summit you do need to be on a tour so make sure to organise that before your trip.

Pelennor Fields – Twizel

“Arise, arise, Riders of Théoden!” The Battle of the Pelennor Fields is a pivotal moment in the Return of the King, showing the might of Men against any and overwhelming odds. The scenes were filmed on private land in Twizel, where great open plains were the perfect setting for the Fields. As this is private land, you do need to be on a tour to access the filming area.

The Breaking of the Fellowship – Mavora Lakes

“And I’m coming with you.” At the end of The Fellowship of the Ring, the Fellowship breaks up to go separate ways – Merry and Pippin are taken by Uruk Hai after a valiant fight resulting in the tear-wrenching death of Boromir; Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli follow to free the Hobbits; and Frodo and Sam set off for Mordor. The breaking of the fellowship was filmed primarily in the Mavora Lakes area near Queenstown. The Lakes are absolutely beautiful and honestly worth a visit even if there were no filming locations to scout!

To get the most out of your Middle Earth experience I recommend booking a guided tour. This way you’ll get an incredible experience with other fans, and you don’t have to worry about getting to some pretty remote places – you may even be able to visit places not open to the general public! My #1 pick for Middle Earth tours is Red Carpet Tours, a family-based tour company providing immersive and extensive tours all over New Zealand.


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