The beautiful scenery of New Zealand became world famous and an instant tourist magnet as soon as the first Lord of the Rings movie was released in 2001. People from all over the world flock to see the places were Peter Jackson recreated the Middle Earth described in the books of J.R.R. Tolkien.
A good place to start is Mount Victoria in central Wellington. This was the place where Elijah Wood (Frodo) and the Hobbits first encountered the Nazgul. It was the site for the very first shooting of the trilogy, catching the press off guard.
The lush forest area was also used for the scenes at Weathertop, Dunharrow, Hobbiton Woods and Outer Shire.
Even though some of the environment were props, such as the large tree root the four Hobbits are hiding under, it’s still fun to explore the paths where they took their first steps into a larger world. “You are tracking the footsteps of two young Hobbits”, as Gandalf put it.
The volcano Mount Ngauruhoe is located in the Tongariro National Park on the north island. It was used as Mount Doom for a few scenes in Lord of the Rings, but since the local population didn’t allow filming there for religious reasons the crew had to make a digital replica of it.
Tongariro National Park also includes Mount Ruapehu, where more scenes were filmed.
This rock formation is located near Weta Workshops. The sandstone rocks in the area were said to have inspired artist Alan Lee in the design of Shelob’s Lair.
Last but not least, a bonus location. This is the Chocolate Fish Café in Seatoun, a local favorite of Peter Jackson where he brought a lot of the Lord of the Rings cast. A very nice place, despite the colors. Each chair is individually painted with different movie characters.