When Sir Peter Jackson (PJ) embarked on his Lord of the Rings trilogy in 1999, no one could have predicted how big the films were to become. Shooting all three films at once with a budget of $281 million, it was touted as one of the most ambitious filmmaking projects of all time.

The success of the films was unprecedented. Winning a total of 17 Academy Awards and grossing nearly $3 billion, the cinematic masterpiece was embraced and celebrated by people all around the world. Middle Earth had been brought to life thanks in no small part to PJ’s incredible use of locations all around New Zealand.

Since the films’ release, New Zealand has been a must-do destination for a whole legion of new fans with many visitors keen to see and experience the world of Middle Earth. We refer to this as the “real” Middle Earth and as you’ll see in this guide, the experiences you can have are very real and just as epic as those in the films!

Another iconic landmark of the films (and New Zealand) is Tongariro National Park which served as the backdrop of Mordor and Mount Doom in the films. Mighty, immense and awe-inspiring, visitors find them a breathtaking sight and the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is one of the best day hikes in the country.

Best Lord of the Rings Activities

There are plenty of things to do that will easily fill up an itinerary for your Lord of the Rings adventures in New Zealand. Some of these are specific Lord of the Rings activities whilst others are things you can enjoy in a Middle Earth setting.

Lord of the Rings Filming Locations

The great thing about our Lord of the Rings filming locations is that many of them are very accessible for locals and tourists to visit. It really does allow you to do the ultimate self-guided tour of Middle Earth.

To help you, we’ve included a few map locations to many of these below!

Middle Earth at its most spectacular

To get featured in a big Hollywood blockbuster as a film location, you have to be pretty spectacular and PJ found some that were above and beyond. Below are some of the most breathtaking!

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