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STA Travel Blog

How to follow Bilbo through Middle-earth…ring not required

Unless you’ve been living under a massive lichen covered rock since 2001 you’ll know that New Zealand is the setting for the epic The Hobbit Trilogy and, of course, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. There’s a very good reason for this (and we’re not just talking Jackson’s affinity for his home country), namely that NZ is stunningly, awe-inspiringly, amazingly, almost unbelievably beautiful.

Most of it. We’re being honest here – a car park in central Auckland behind a McDonald’s ain’t gunna fill you with awe. So avoid the duffers (granted the car park might have been a bit obvious) and stick to the best bits with our Middle-earth New Zealand travel guide…


How to follow Bilbo through Middle-earth…Ring Not Required

Matamata (Hobbiton)

Let’s start with an obvious one. The setting for Bilbo, Frodo, Sam, and every other Hobbit that you can shake a Wizard’s staff at’s home, Matamata is now open for movie tours that will satisfy even the most committed Hobbit fan. As well as wandering in and out of Hobbit Holes and The Mill you can take a drink at the The Green Dragon Inn (technically in Bywater but whatever) and chow down on a human sized portion of beef and ale pie.


Pelorus River, Marlborough (that river they go down in barrels)

While escaping the Halls of Thranduil to Lake-town the Dwarves reject the more conventional method of running away on foot for a perilous journey down the river in barrels while being shot at by Legolas. That river is the Pelorus River in Marlborough where you can swap barrels for kayaks float down the rapids. We can’t guarantee Orlando Bloom though.


Fiordland National Park (most of Middle-earth)

Milford Sound

We’re cheating a bit here as the park is massive – more than 4x the size of Luxembourg (OK naff comparison but can you do any better for 4600 square miles?) – but it is utterly stunning. Containing mountains, lakes, rainforest, waterfalls, the famous Milford Sound and, of course, fiords, it should be a part of any Kiwi itinerary.  Also it’s home to the Kakapo or “owl parrot”. Which alone should be enough to make you want to go.



It may sound like a dodgy disease, but the trek up Earnslaw Burn will drop you straight into a Middle-earth wonderland of soaring mountains, glaciers and waterfalls. Nearby you can also find The Remarkables (by name and nature) mountains which were the setting for the Misty Mountains where Bilbo “found” the ring.

The remarkables

Denize Bluffs (Trollshaws)

The home of the Trolls of Trollshaws (the name should have been a dead give-away really) who were turned to stone by the sun thanks to a cheeky intervention by Gandalf. The area itself is less well known than many filming locations and has stunning rock formations where you can stand in the very spot where Bilbo received Sting. If you like.

Looks like the perfect place for a Troll! Courtesy of russellstreet on Twitter

Mount Cook

Instantly (ish) recognisable as the location for Lonely Mountain and Lake-town, the snow covered peak of Mount Cook and turquoise waters of Lake Tekapo are so beautiful that they’re worth visiting whether you’re a fan of the films or not. Incidentally if you’ve gotten to the bottom of this blog and you’re not a fan of the films…you’ve probably got something you’re supposed to be doing.
Mount Cook


263 beards were used during the filming of The Hobbit Trilogy. Yes we know this doesn’t really fit in here but it’s a cool fact we learned and wanted to share. Sorry not sorry.

We’ve barely scratched the surface of what New Zealand has to offer. Go on your own quest with flights to Auckland from £549 with Air New Zealand and start your own (hopefully slightly less dragon filled) quest.
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Showing 5 Comments

  1. Dear STA,

    Can I call Gandalph and get his eagle to pick me up please cos since returning from New Zealand in 2005 I vowed not to fly, or to fly as little as possible. I have since taken up sailing and cycling, Im learning and have a long way to go but go by zero carbon means I must…

    1139 days ago
    • Anna Corbett

      Dear Lisa,

      Unfortunately we have heard that the eagles have made it very clear they will not participate in the affairs of men/elves/dwarves (until the very last blinkin minute anyway). But luckily these Middle-earth adventures can be enjoyed by anyone regardless of how they make it there so sail, cycle, swim or hop away!

      Best of luck on your adventure :)


      1138 days ago
  2. Tone

    Ive been to some of these places. There are no words of men that can transport you to this other worldly place. The scented earthy air filled with flora unlike anything youve smelled, the warm salty sea breeze with the endless roar of waves breaking on the reefs, wide desert like abanded beaches with large driftwood logs embeded in the clistening sand, with flax and cabbage palms meeting the edge. Unusual landscapes ans sun bleached clifts with expansive richly coloured sunsets, and the morning mist hovering over estuaries in plush valleys with unusual sounding birds sqauking as they fly above the estuaries, and thats just outside the city of auckland, dont get me started on other places.

    1136 days ago
  3. paul

    Wow! The films make you speechless just by watching them and admiring the surroundings, you someone’s forget that it’s not all cgi. so I can’t imagine what it would be like to go there, I would go in a heart beat but because of health Problems I wouldn’t have a chance of seeing those places unless of course there are any elven healers that will take me on ;)
    Great article even though it has made me a little sad that I’ll never see it in person. To anyone reading this, if you are able bodied and healthy, please don’t waste your life , go and see places like these and live life to the full :) x

    1135 days ago
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    386 days ago