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Guide to The Lord of the Rings in Te Anau


The Lord of the Rings filming locations in Te Anau.

Did you know there are many Lord of the Rings filming locations in Te Anau? The small town on the edge of the Fiordland National Park might be more famous for the wealth of multi-day hikes in the area. However, Te Anau is only a short drive away from several major Lord of the Rings filming locations. We’ll go through them all and more in this guide to The Lord of the Rings in Te Anau!

The lakes, rivers and forests around Te Anau on the South Island represented a variety of Middle-earth landscapes in The Lord of the Rings, from Fangorn Forest to the River Anduin. While plenty of filming locations are accessible by car, others may require a bit of hiking to get there. Nevertheless, these locations are a way to revive the magic of The Lord of the Rings and get some awesome photo opportunities.

5 Fun facts about The making of the Lord of the Rings.

Because who doesn’t love a fun fact?

  • Sean Bean, the actor who plays Boromir, hiked in full costume to the alpine filming locations because of his fear of helicopters.
  • The giant spider in The Return of the King, Shelob, is based off a real spider in New Zealand called the tunnel web spider (obviously, it’s not as big as Shelob).
  • Many of the horse-riders in the battle scenes were actually teenage girls in costume. They made up the majority of locals with a horse who were available to be extras in the movies.
  • The chanting of the Uruk-hai was recorded in a sports stadium full of New Zealand cricket fans.
  • The tree above Bag End in Hobbiton had its leaves hand-painted and attached one-way-one.

For more about The Lord of the Rings, check out 23 Lord of the Rings Locations You Can’t Miss in New Zealand.

Haka Tours


Kepler Mire

The swampland of the Dead Marshes was filmed at Kepler Mire. The scenes where Sam exclaims: “There are dead faces in the water,” as Frodo, Sam and Gollum journey toward Mordor. Gollum saves Frodo as he falls into the water under the spell of the ghosts within the water.

Kepler Mire makes a quick stop to snap up photos of the filming location. However, there are no other activities or walks available in the area. (Unlike other filming locations on this list).

Location: The Kepler Mire is seen from Mount York Road, just off State Highway 95, a 10-minute drive from Te Anau, Fiordland National Park, South Island.

Co-ordinates: 45° 29.567’S 167° 41.897’E

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Mavora Lakes Conservation Park

The Mavora Lakes, part of the Te Wāhipounamu/South-West New Zealand World Heritage Area, is full of stunning lake, mountain and forest landscapes. No wonder the area was used in several Lord of the Rings scenes. One of those scenes was when Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli follow the trail of Merry and Pippin who escape the orcs on the edge of Fangorn Forest.

More things to do at the Mavora Lakes include camping, fishing, short walks, multi-day hikes and mountain biking.

Location: From Te Anau, travel about 30km on State Highway 94, turn off onto Mavora Lakes Road for about 18km to Mavora Lakes Park. Southland, South Island.

Co-ordinates: 45° 19.968’S 168° 10.404’E

Jeff Hitchcock

North Mavora Lake

This next Mavora Lakes Lord of the Rings location is unmistakably from the scene where The Fellowship ends their journey on the Anduin River in The Fellowship of the Ring. Inside the nearby forest is the location where Merry and Pippin hide from the Uruk-hai in those same scenes.

Location: Access is via Mavora Lakes Road about 71km away from Te Anau. Take State Highway 94 south for 30km then turn on Mavora Lakes Road all the way to the end of the road. Southland, South Island.


  • Lakeside scenes – 45° 15.993’S 168° 10.410’E
  • Forest hiding scene – 45° 16.024’S 168° 10.500’E

Jeff Hitchcock

Mararoa River

This Lord of the Rings location is also found in the Mavora Lakes area. The Mararoa River, in particular, was used to show The Fellowship leaving Lothlorien. See the filming location at the swingbridge at the southern end of South Mavora Lake near the camping area.

Location: Access is via Mavora Lakes Road about 65km away from Te Anau. Take State Highway 94 south for 30km then turn on Mavora Lakes Road for about 35km until you reach South Mavora Lake. Southland, South Island.

Co-ordinates: 45° 18.970’S 168° 10.744’E.


Waiau River

Many rivers across New Zealand were used to depict the Anduin River in The Lord of the Rings. The aerial shots of the Anduin River in the opening of The Fellowship of the Ring were of the Waiau River.

The Waiau River can be accessed a number of ways: it’s a short drive from Te Anau with a car park near the swingbridge where the scene was filmed. Alternatively, you can see the filming location while hiking the Kepler Track or while taking kayaking tours from Te Anau.

Location: About 13km out of Te Anau. The Waiau River can be accessed by State Highway 95. About 11km south of Te Anau, turn onto Rainbow Reach Road. Southland, South Island.

Co-ordinates: 45° 29.755’S 167° 40.159’E.

Satoru Kikuchi

Snowdon Forest Conservation Area

Several quick shots were used on the edge of the Snowdon Forest to show Gandalf whistling for his horse, Shadowfax. Additionally, part of the scene where Aragorn tracks the Hobbits’ trail through the forest in The Two Towers, as well as the reveal of Gandalf The White was shot here.

Other than The Lord of the Rings filming location, Snowdon Forest is a popular place for hiking and fishing.

Location: At Bog Pine Paddock, Snowdon Forest. From Te Anau, take State Highway 94 then Kakapo Road then Takaroa Road. Fiordland National Park, South Island.

Co-ordinates: 45° 21.087’S 167° 54.477’E

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