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Guide to The Lord of the Rings in Nelson Tasman

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The Lord of the Rings locations in the Nelson Tasman region.

If you’re looking for a “Hobbit’s holiday”, then you might have just found paradise in the Nelson Tasman region. Located in the north of the South Island, Nelson Tasman has a wide array of landscapes, from pinnacle-topped mountains to picturesque rivers, all deemed beautiful enough to feature in the fantasy land of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. Check out some of the fantastical filming locations of the area with this guide to The Lord of the Rings in Nelson Tasman.

While you’re here, you might also like Where Was The Lord of the Rings Filmed? and 23 Lord of the Rings Locations You Can’t Miss in New Zealand.

5 Fun Facts about the Making of The Lord of the Rings & The Hobbit in Nelson Tasman

  • Stephen Hunter, who plays Bombur in The Hobbit trilogy, famously said that filming on the Pelorus River was his favourite time on set
  • The Jens Hansen jewellers who made the “One Ring” had to make around 40 rings for the trilogies
  • Sean Bean, who plays Boromir, hiked in full costume to the alpine filming locations because of his fear of helicopters
  • Sir Peter Jackson is said to have chosen the Pelorus River as a filming location after memories of going there in his youth
  • Wharariki Beach in Golden Bay was also a filming location for another Peter Jackson movie, The Lovely Bones.
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Pelorus River

Teetering on the edge of the Nelson Tasman and Marlborough regions, the Pelorus River is a must-stop for Lord of the Rings fans when making their way between Nelson and Blenheim. Here, you’ll discover The Hobbit location of the “Forest River”. The river flowing through the Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve was used for the barrel-run scenes in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

See the filming location along the walking trails of the Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve, State Highway 6, 54km east of Nelson. Alternatively, experience the river and the exact filming location for yourself on a kayaking tour with Pelorus Eco Adventures.

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Jens Hansen – The Ringmakers

Located in the heart of Nelson city is the very jewellers that made the One Rings (yes, there were many). Jens Hansen designed more than 40 rings to depict the One Ring in both Lord of the Rings trilogies. Visit their workshop and jewellers in the city where they are happy to show you the One Rings on display, tell you some behind-the-scenes insights, and you can even buy a One Ring for yourself.

Find Jens Hansen – The Ringmakers at 320 Trafalgar Square. Plus, while you’re there, see 15 Things to Do in Nelson City for more things to do in the area. 

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Canaan Downs – Abel Tasman National Park

In the northern Nelson Tasman region, toward Abel Tasman and Golden Bay, some of the alpine landscape were used in both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

Takaka Hill and the Abel Tasman National Park served as Chetwood Forest in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, as well as the Anduin Grasslands and Beorn’s House in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

The area can be admired at the top of Takaka Hill, off State Highway 60 on the Canaan Road (where The Woolshed Canaan is located). The narrow winding gravel road is not suitable for motorhomes.

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Mt Olympus & Mt Owen

Two of the hardest Lord of the Rings locations to access in the Nelson Tasman region, most Lord of the Rings fans either fly or hike to these LOTR locations.

Mt Olympus depicted the South of Rivendell. The strange pinnacle rock formations here were the backdrop when Saruman’s Crebain Crows spied the Fellowship resting. Check out the helicopter tour to Mt Olympus with Reid Helicopters here.

Mt Owen is where the Fellowship leaves the Mines of Moria, distraught at losing Gandalf to the Balrog. Again, this can be accessed on a helicopter tour with Reid Helicopters or by hiking the Mt Own Courthouse Flat to Granity Pass Hut (6 hours one way) then Granity Pass Hut to Mt Own (7 hours return) where backcountry experience is needed on this unmarked route. Alternatively, hike from the Owen Valley East Road to the Mt Own summit via the Sunrise Peak Route (7 hours one way).

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Kaihoka Station

Check out this “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” filming location in Golden Bay. Kaihoka Station was used as Weatherhills where The Company arrives at a destroyed farmhouse.

The exact filming location is on private land, but is accessible with Cape Farewell Horse Trek. Alternatively, enjoy the scenery nearby at the Kaihoka Lakes Scenic Reserve which has 10-minute walk. Access is via Kaihoka Road, near Pakawau. While you’re in the area, check out the 19 Epic Natural Attractions in Golden Bay.

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Salisbury Falls & the Aorere River

Combine a New Zealand Great Walk with a Hobbit location! Salisbury Falls and the Aorere River at the beginning of the Heaphy Track in the Kahurangi National Park was the filming location where Legolas and Tauriel meet before heading into Laketown in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

The filming location at Salisbury Falls is accessible by road, 24km south of Collingwood in Golden Bay. It is located along the Aorere Valley Road on the way to the Heaphy Track.

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