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The Hobbit Location Guide

The Hobbit locations in New Zealand.

The best thing about The Hobbit trilogy is more Middle Earth locations to visit in New Zealand! It was because of The Hobbit trilogy that a sustainable Hobbiton set was made for filming, rather than flimsy polystyrene used for The Lord of the Rings, but also as a chance for tourists to feel like The Shire is real! Then there are the naturally beautiful backdrops of mountainous regions, cascading waterfalls and rivers perfect for barrel cruising in the South Island. Our Hobbit location guide will help you find famous scenes from The Hobbit!

If you are looking for more Middle Earth locations, be sure to check out our Lord of the Rings Location Guide and 8 “The Hobbit” Locations You Can’t Miss! too.

Where was The Hobbit filmed in New Zealand?

Filming took place for The Hobbit across the country. We’ve divided this location guide for The Hobbit into New Zealand regions so if you happen to find yourself in 1 of these parts of the country, you know where to take a detour for some famous movie locations and beautiful scenery. The regions are:

  • Waikato, North Island
  • Nelson and Marlborough, South Island
  • Aoraki Mt Cook and the Mackenzie region, South Island
  • Otago, South Island
  • Ruapehu, North Island
  • Fiordland National Park, South Island
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Waikato – Hobbiton and Piopio

New Zealand’s hugely popular Hobbit attraction, Hobbiton is an outdoor movie set. The rolling green hills of the Waikato region makes the farm – that is still a working farm today – the prefect location for the Hobbit village. A guided tour of the film set gives visitors behind-the-scenes stories, a drink in The Green Dragon, and many photo opportunities!

What was once known for its horse racing, Matamata is now known as Hobbiton as it is the closest town to the movie set. It is worth the visit for a picture with the “Welcome to Hobbiton” sign, the Hobbit-themed i-SITE, and a bite to eat in the quaint cafes.

A 1h30min drive from Hobbiton is Piopio. The Mangaotaki Rocks and nearby forest is where the trolls and Straddle Farm scenes were filmed, as well as the discovery of the sword Sting.

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Nelson and Marlborough

The filming that took place in the Nelson region was on private farmland. Within Nelson city you can get the One Ring from Jens Hansen The Ringmaker, who designed more than 40 One Rings for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Not quite forged in the fiery depths of Mordor, but it’s the closest thing to it.

The neighbouring region Marlborough is home to the Pelorus River. This was the river used for the ‘barrel escape’ scene in The Desolation of Smaug. You can relive the scene in barrels, but we suggest kayaks are more suitable.

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Aoraki mt cook and mackenzie region

The stunningly blue Lake Pukaki with the backdrop of Aoraki Mt Cook was the location for Laketown in The Desolation of Smaug. The Southern Alps along with Aoraki Mt Cook was also used for aerial shots in the trilogy.

Twizel’s alpine tussock land with rocky outcrops was used for the first encounter with the orcs and wargs in The Unexpected Journey.

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Otago Region

North of Queenstown is Earnslaw Burn – a glacier melting to create a series of waterfalls, which can be seen when Bilbo and The Company leave Rivendell. It can be accessed on the Earnslaw Burn track or by a helicopter tour. Another walking track used in the filming was the Passburn Track used to show The Company walking towards the Misty Mountains. The Remarkables, which can be seen from Queenstown, were also used to depict the Misty Mountains.

Strath Taieri, near Dunedin, was chosen for its rocky outcrops to film the chase between the orcs and The Company.

Treble Cone ski field, near Wanaka, is the location for some of the Misty Mountain paths The Company had to take.

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Ruapehu

Speaking of ski fields, the North Island ski field Turoa on Mt Ruapehu was used as the entrance to The Lonely Mountain. Ironically, one of the neighbouring mountains, Mt Ngauruhoe, is Mt Doom in The Lord of the Rings!

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Fiordland national park

The aerial shots over the fiords and mountains dense with native bush in Fiordland were the terrain the giant eagles flew over once Bilbo and crew escape the orcs. Noticeable areas are Sutherland Falls – the tallest waterfall in NZ and David’s Knoll.

Fun facts about The Hobbit.

  • New Zealand ran out of gold paint! So much gold paint was used in Smaug’s lair that they had to get some more shipped over from Germany. Obviously, this was special paint.
  • The dwarves’ beards were made from yak hair, except Thorin’s, which was Richard Armitages own hair! What a lad!
  • Speaking of hair, 752 wigs were made for The Desolation of Smaug. But that’s not all…
  • … 263 beards were also made. So much hair!
  • It took about 5 hours to complete a whole outfit for a dwarf including make-up and prosthetics.
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