Ever since the launch of Sir Peter Jackson's epic film adaptations of JRR Tolkien's 'The Lord Of The Rings' (LOTR) and 'The Hobbit' trilogies, New Zealand has seen a boom in tourism by fans of both the books and movies.
For many Lord of the Rings fans, visiting the real world New Zealand destinations where the films were shot is as alluring as The Ring itself; and to celebrate the launch of the third and final film in Jackson's "The Hobbit" trilogy – "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" – this month, Waitomo has created a Middle Earth North Island Travel Guide for all you LOTR fans.
Here are some place you need to visit:
Located on a disused sheep farm in Matamata about an hour from Hamilton, Hobbiton is a purpose-built village where one can get lost in the Middle Earth world. The idyllic homeland of Tolkien's main protagonists Bilbo and Froddo, Hobbiton is a wondrous movie set, meticulously assembled to give you the sense that you really are visiting the home of the young Hobbits. Just as the Hobbits embarked on their epic journey through Middle Earth, so too is a visit to Hobbiton the perfect starting point for your trip to Middle Earth.
Take the tour through Bag End, the Green Dragon Inn, the Mill and the Party Tree, which all featured in the movies. Or pick up a souvenir and a bite to eat at The Shire's Rest Café. Hobbiton Village also offers farm stay accommodation if you'd like to spend more than a few hours exploring. The tours run daily and cost between $75 and $125NZD, depending on the tour inclusions.
Waitomo's famous Glowworm Caves are one of the most spectacular sites in New Zealand. Filled with Maori myth and legend to give the tall tales of Middle Earth a run for their money, the caves were used extensively to record sounds and echoes in the Hobbit movies.
The Waitomo Cave Tours will take you through some of New Zealand's largest and ancient cave network. Not to be missed is the unforgettable boat trip through the Glowworm Grotto. These tiny creatures glow almost a brightly as 'Sting' Froddo's glowing sword. Tours cost $48NZD per adult, and run daily.
The stunning white cliffs of Mangaotaki Valley were featured heavily in "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey", and was the backdrop for Trollshaw Forest.
Wind your way through the rugged mountain ranges studded with jagged rocks and experience the primeval era that New Zealand is famous for. It is recommended that you wear some proper walking shoes as the terrain can be rough and slippery.
Weta Cave and Workshop
While technically not a film set, the
Weta Cave and Workshop is a mecca for all lovers of Lord of the Rings and the home of many of the props used in the films. Located in Miramar, Wellington, the multi-award winning design studio allows you to get up close and personal with life-like sculptures of Gollum, the Orcs and the armour worn by the men of Middle Earth. Don't miss the exclusive behind-the-scenes featurette, which includes interviews from the Weta Workshop founders Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor, Tania Rodger and Jamie Selkirk.
The forty-five minute tour will set you back around $20NZD and the store offers you a chance to purchase various replicas from the films.
Book Middle Earth Trilogy Tour
If you can't decide which location to visit first, Waitomo have put together an all-inclusive package which allows you entry to the top sites in the North Island. Tolkien fans will be able to coincide watching the latest The Hobbit film with visiting the real world locations.
There are two tours on offer:
This Trilogy Tour includes trips to:
- Hobbiton Movie Set Tour
- Waitomo Glow worm and Ruakuri caves
- the Te Puia blowhole, including a traditional Maori meal
The Supercharged tour inclides
- Hobbiton Movie Set Tour™ at Hobbiton
- Black Labyrinth with The Legendary Black Water Rafting Co.
- Steambox experience at Te Puia