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On the Hobbit Trail in New Zealand

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On the Hobbit Trail in New Zealand

Photo: Pranav Taplu

If you are the Lord of the Rings fanatic, the Hobbit trail is something that would go down in your book of memories or would come off as a venture ticked off from your bucket list that you did not know you needed! The Hobbit was filmed throughout various locations spread across the North Island and South Island of New Zealand. These places are a getaway to dive into the world of fantasy and experience the best that New Zealand has to offer in terms of its scenic beauty! For the die-hard fans of the furry footed creatures, here is your guide to the one-of-a-kind Tolkien’s Middle-Earth.

Wellington airport

Wellington airport, a Hobbit themed airport, welcomes you with a giant sculpture of Gollum! This sculpture was created by Wētā studio, a digital visual effects company based in New Zealand. The airport terminal greets your arrival with a sign that says “The Middle of Middle-Earth”. You also get to collect your baggage from the “Baggins Services”. There are also Hobbit themed Boeing Planes available which are operated by Air New Zealand which makes for an exciting and an interesting journey experience for Hobbit lovers!

The Wētā Workshop Studio Tour

Tucked away in Miramar, a short drive from Wellington’s city centre, Wētā Workshop crafts physical effects for some of the world’s most renowned films and TV shows. Apart from the Lord of the Rings, the Weta studio is responsible for some of the jaw dropping movies such as Avatar, King Kong, The Chronicles of Narnia, Power Rangers, and so on. You must check out the Weta workshop tours that gives you a glimpse of the world of the fantasy and the extensive process of filmmaking that will leave you amazed. From props to costumes, this tour makes for a fun and an exciting experience that you should not miss! Their gift shop, Wētā Cave shop is a must-see for film buffs to see authentic Wētā-designed collectibles, prop replicas, books, jewellery, art prints, gifts, apparel and movie memorabilia.

Port Waikato, North Island

Port Waikato is located around 88 kms away from Auckland where you can witness the majestic ruins of the Weathertop fortress. This place has a beachside settlement called the Sunset Beach facing the Tasman Sea. This beach is full of black sand which makes for a nice stretch for a relaxing walk by the seashore. The waves are also suitable for surfers as well as boogie boarding.

While you’re at the Sunset Beach you can also indulge in some good food and coffee at the Sylvia’s café.

Hobbiton

About160 kms away from Auckland, in the heart of the Mighty Waikato region, you can experience the real Middle-earth at the Hobbiton Movie Set Tour where your guide with enlighten you about the various facts, trivia, as well as the history and the shooting processes involved during the making of the film. Here you can step into the lush pastures of the Shire, as seen in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies; fall in love with the Alexander family sheep farm, just as you journey through the unequivocal beauty of the land, with the mighty Kaimai Ranges towering in the distance; walk around the 12-acre set past Hobbit Holes, the Mill and into the world-famous Green Dragon Inn. The Green Dragon Inn Pub was opened for public on December 1st, 2012. Tourists come from all over the world for the surreal atmosphere: real drinks are served in this pub, where Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin used to party. The owners also plan to open a hotel here in the near future. Fun fact – This site is also a part of New Zealand’s richest farming area.

Tours around the Hobbiton set include visits to The Green Dragon Inn, The Mill and cosy hobbit homes. Photo: Pranav Taplu
Tours around the Hobbiton set include visits to The Green Dragon Inn, The Mill and cosy hobbit homes. Photo: Pranav Taplu

Hobbiton Movie Set Tickets

The two-hour guided tour takes visitors on a magical journey through the Shire and beautiful North Island countryside. Check out their special tours – Hobbiton Beer Festival, Hobbiton Christmas, Summer Harvest Festival (501 Buckland Road, Matamata; +64-7-8881505; hobbitontours.com; NZ$89/₹4200 for adults (17 years and over); NZ$44/₹2070 for 9-16 years; Free for 0-8 years).

Tongariro Park

The Tongariro National Park is the place that stands for Mordor in The Lord of the Rings. The majestic sublime mountains here are a treat to the eyes. The Tongariro National Park is the oldest national park in New Zealand with around three active volcanic mountains – the Ruapehu, the Ngauruhoe, and the Tongariro. There are several towns facing the National Park such as Ohakune, Pokaka, Horopito, Waiouru, Erua and so on. You can spend a night in the Ohakune town which was also the base for The Hobbit film crew. If you are feeling really adventurous, go for the Tongariro Alpine Crossing which is one of the most exciting hikes that you will experience.

Earnslaw Burn

Mount Earnslaw is featured in the second film of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy: The Two Towers. Home to breathtaking glaciers and waterfalls, this is a mesmerizing sight to behold. This place also features in the Hobbit trilogy. The Earnslaw Burn in located in the Glenorchy area of Otago region, which is around 46 kms away from Queenstown. Glenorchy is also famous for its horse-riding activities and its scenic beauty that includes lush forest to a tussock-covered valley with jaw-dropping views of the hanging glacier and waterfalls on Mt Earnslaw.

Mt. Aspiring National Park

Mount Aspiring National Park, located in the Southern Alps of the South Island of New Zealand is the site of the fortress of Isengard, which is an hour’s drive away from Queenstown. A wonderful mixture of remote wilderness, high mountains and beautiful river valleys, the national park is a walker’s paradise and is a popular site for skiing, hiking, and camping. You can also take a helicopter ride which would give you a bird’s eye view of the beautiful terrain.

Westland Tai Poutini National Park

The Westland Tai Poutini National Park is located on the western coast of South Island in New Zealand. This National Park is a home of lakes, glaciers and a temperate rainforest and features in the final part of the Lord of the Rings trilogy: The Return of the King. This place has a fascinating landscape and is perfect if you wish to embark on kayaking adventures on Lakes Matheson and Mapourika and explore vast rivers and coastal lagoons.

Clockwise from left to right: Paradise and Glenorchy, that were the setting for several scenes in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies (Photo: New Zealand Tourism); Gollum sculpture at Wellington airport (Photo: Getty images); Lake Wakatipu and Haast Swamp on the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island provided landscape references for the Dead Marshes that Frodo and Sam negotiate with Gollum’s help in The Two Towers, the second film of the Lord of the Rings trilogy (Photo: Getty images); Helicopter rides from Queenstown take in impressive views of Lake Wakatipu (Photo: New Zealand Tourism)
Clockwise from left to right: Paradise and Glenorchy, that were the setting for several scenes in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies; Gollum sculpture at Wellington airport; Lake Wakatipu and Haast Swamp on the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island provided landscape references for the Dead Marshes that Frodo and Sam negotiate with Gollum’s help in The Two Towers, the second film of the Lord of the Rings trilogy; Helicopter rides from Queenstown take in impressive views of Lake Wakatipu. Photos: Getty Images and New Zealand Tourism

The Guide

A good resource for sights linked to the movies is www.newzealand.com/in/home-of-middle-earth with suggested Middle-earth itineraries, links to related activities and tours, and a list of locations used during the filming of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies.

Orientation

Located 1,500 km south of Australia, New Zealand is home to North Island and South Island, as well as several other smaller islands. Most flights arrive in Auckland, the northern part of the Island’s most populous city. Waitomo Glowworm Caves are 195 km/2.5 hrs south of Auckland, and Hairy Feet at Piopio 33 km/45 mins further south. Hobbiton is 115 km/1.5 hours northeast of Piopio. On South Island, most travellers head straight to Queenstown, located on the bank of Lake Wakatipu in the southwest. Glenorchy is the gateway to Paradise, a scenic 46 km/40 mins drive from Queenstown along the east bank of Lake Wakatipu.

Getting There

From Indian cities like Delhi and Mumbai, it is possible to fly to Auckland with a halt in a southeast Asian hub like Hong Kong or Kuala Lumpur, Melbourne in Australia, or Guangzhou in China. The average duration of the flight, including layover, is about 20 hours.

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