New Zealand has always been a whole lot of pretty.

But Peter Jackson's decision to shoot every last bit of "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit" trilogies there has made it a more accessible travel mecca for "Ringers" and nature adventurers alike.

Rangitata Valley

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Peter Jackson's epics are famous for their wide shots of gorgeous, untouched landscape meant to be Middle Earth.

Almost all of New Zealand stands in as the pristine, pre-Industrial and magical landscape envisioned by J.R.R. Tolkien.


Matamata (Hobbiton)

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But some places are more special than others.

Not many sets were left in place—but the Hobbit's hometown of Hobbiton was one of them.

Matamata (Hobbiton)

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Located amongst the dairy farms just outside of Matamata on the North Island, a huge chunk of Hobbiton is open for visitors.

It alone survived the practical deconstruction of the film's sets—and only because they had to build it twice. When it was rebuilt for the "Hobbit" series, New Zealanders opted to keep it.

Mount Sunday, Canterbury

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Despite the time and effort that went into building many of the film franchise's most beloved sets—all the others were pulled down to preserve New Zealand's natural beauty.

It took nine months to build Edoras on the slopes of Mount Sunday, but none of Rohan's capital city remains.

Dry Creek Quarry

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Other sets on private and active property were quickly deconstructed following the conclusion of filming.

Helm's Deep and Minas Tirith were both built at Dry Creek Quarry. Which you can now see from afar, but can only visit with special permission.



Mount Ngauruhoe

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But the sets weren't what made all of "The Lord of the Rings" films so special, and even without them, huge swathes of New Zealand's natural beauty are evocatively familiar from the films.

Mount Ngauruhoe and the Rangipo Desert in Tongariro National Park doubled as Mordor.

Mt Ngauruhoe craters And Emerald Lakes

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The volcanic craters and scenically stunted desert and dry lakes around Mt Ngauruhoe made it chillingly ideal as the homeland of the dreaded necromancer Sauron.

Glenorchy, Near Queenstown

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The moss covered forests of Glenorchy, near Queenstown on the South Island served as the elven land of Lothlorien.

Hutt River, Kaitoke Regional Park

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The Hutt River in Kaitoke Regional Park in Upper Hutt outside Wellington, New Zealand served as a variety of set pieces, including Rivendell.


Upper Hutt River At Gemstone Drive Reserve

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The Upper Hutt River at Gemstone Drive Reserve will also look familiar as the river in Rohan, where Aragorn is rescued by his horse.

Seen in the Two Towers as a river in Rohan where Aragorn is rescued by his horse Brego.

Upper Hutt River

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The Upper Hutt River at a bit known as Poet's Park served as the real world version of Middle Earth's Anduin River.


Waiau River

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The Waiau river was also used as a section of the mythical River Anduin, where the Uruk-hai chase the Fellowship along the riverbank in the very first film.

Putangirua Pinnacles

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The terrifyingly stunning rock formations of the Putangirua Pinnacles are where Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli seek out the path to the dead in "The Two Towers."

Between Omarama And Twizel

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The wintery hills between Omarama and Twizel on New Zealand's south island were the backdrop to the Battle of the Pelennor Fields for Minas Tirith.

Arrow River In Arrowtown, Central Otago

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The tranquil Arrow River did double duty as the Gladden Fields where the One Ring is lost and then found again by Sméagol.

Rangitikei River Bend

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The great Rangitikei River Bend is where the Fellowship floats down past the Pillars of the Kings—which were added in with CGI, and sadly, not carved into the actual landscape.

Though there's always hope that one day that will be New Zealand's LotR version of Mt. Rushmore.

Mt. Victoria Forests, Above Wellington

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The forests above Wellington were easily transformed into the East Road from Bree—where Frodo and his companions leap off the road and hide from the Dark Riders.



Red Rocks Walkway

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Red Rocks Walkway is where Sam and Frodo reach the Black Gate in the "The Two Towers."



Fox Glacier

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You'll recognize the South Island's Fox Glacier as the location of much of the mountain trekking seen throughout all of the films.

Whakapapa Ski Field

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Whakapapa Ski Field was used as part of the climb to Emyn Muil.



Whakapapa Ski Field

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And doubled as an entry vista en route to Mordor.


Mangawhero Falls

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The real Mangawhero Falls is where Jackson's team set some of its most epic CGI Gollum action.

It's the bit of river where Gollum goes fishing for Sam and Frodo's breakfast in "The Two Towers."

Lake Pukaki

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Peter Jackson's decision to also direct the "Hobbit" trilogy and to return to New Zealand for shooting added a bevy of additional sites into the Ringer travel guide.

Lake Pukaki appeared in the "The Desolation of Smaug."


Turoa Ski Field

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The Turoa Ski Field likewise re-appeared in "The Desolation of Smaug" —it had previously been used in "The Two Towers."

Pelorus River

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And the Pelorus River doubled as the Forest River—which the Hobbits travel via barrel.

WETA Studios, Wellington

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If you're more into the special effects from the films than the landscape themselves — New Zealand's tourist industry still has you covered.

You can tour the WETA special effects workshop in Wellington that produced the films and continues to bust out tons of amazing movie magic for other films.

WETA Studios, Wellington

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Given WETA's rise to prominence in the film industry is strongly associated with its work on "The Lord of the Rings" films, they always have lots of crowd-pleasing memorabilia on display—like some of the rare puppet castings of the frequently digital Gollum.

Nelson, South Island

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If you want to walk away from New Zealand with the ultimate in LotR memorabilia, you'll also want to scope out Jens Hansen's smithy in Nelson.

The talented smith hammered out all of the original One Rings. You can watch him at work and bring home your own copy of the film's most important prop.

South Alps Mountain Range

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There's so much Lord of the Rings pretty in New Zealand—you're absolutely spoiled for choice.

With six movies worth of film locations and such epic panoramas, you probably won't make it to every single location without a bit of help (and unfortunately there aren't any Great Eagles around to pick you up per their deal with Gandalf).



Kahurangi National Park

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Which is why New Zealand kindly operates a heap ton of helicopter tours over the biggest, most stunning, panoramas in its National Park.

So you can see it all, and not have to worry about orcs harassing you on foot.