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.