Lothlori Mavora Lakes S Southland New Zealand Credit Chris McLennan 1 1
Your Fiordland guide to Middle-earth.

What comes to mind when you hear the words ‘New Zealand’? The Lord of the Rings is a classic international response. Most tourists to New Zealand make a point of visiting the awe-inspiring Fiordland National Park, the iconic background of many scenes used in Lord of the Rings film trilogy and the later released movie adaptation of it’s prequel, The Hobbit trilogy.

Date 21 Sep 2021

One look at the picturesque lakeside village of Te Anau or world-renowned Milford Sound, and it's easy to understand why it was one of director Peter Jackson's favourite filming spots. From Fangorn Forest to the River Anduin, the intensity of the rising mountains, the drama of the roaring waterfalls, and the call of the wild in the lush forests near Te Anau resemble a variety of Middle-earth locations in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. 
If you're a genuine Lord of the Rings enthusiast looking to make the most of your Fiordland trip, the best way to see these iconic spots is with a local Fiordlander. Relive the majesty of The Lord of the Rings on location with a jet boat ride up the Anduin River (Waiau River) or get some great birds-eye view photos of the exact spot where the dwarves and Bilbo were saved by the eagles.  

The Hobbit End Scene - Sutherland Falls  

A mountain peak near Lake Dale and the Sutherland Falls, both in Fiordland National Park, were used in the last minute of the first Hobbit film. After a fierce fight with mounted orcs, the dwarves are saved by huge eagles flying above the magnificent Sutherland Falls. The massive birds carry the dwarves to 'The Carrock,' which is the top peak immediately south of Lake Dale in the Light River Valley south-east of Sutherland Sound. The best way to see Sutherland Falls and Lake Dale is with Milford Sound Helicopters who showcase the otherwise inaccessible scenic treasures of Fiordland. 

Sutherland Falls - Credit Will Patino

Anduin River - The Waiau River 

The Anduin River (part of the Waiau River) appears in The Fellowship of the Ring's opening scene. Located between Te Anau and Manapouri townships, the Waiau River was portrayed as the River Anduin for a scene when the fellowship paddled south from Lothlórien. The harsh landscape south of Rivendell was represented by the surrounding high mountain peaks. The best way to experience the Anduin River (Waiau River) is to take the ‘pure wilderness jetboat experience’ with Fiordland Jet. Fiordland Jet will share with you the inside scoop on The Lord of the Rings filming sites, as well as the insane logistics of production.

The Dead Marshes - Kepler Mire 

A helicopter was used to film the Kepler Mire which represented the Dead Marshes in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.  The Dead Marshes were a sombre graveyard for the men, elves, and dwarves who had fought on the old battleground near Mordor. As Frodo, Sam and Gollum go into Mordor, Sam screams "There are dead faces in the water". It is here where Gollum saves Frodo as he falls into the water, under the spell of the ghosts within the water. The Kepler Mire can be accessed from Mount York Road, right off State Highway 95, which is a 10-minute drive from Te Anau.

Wandering - Credit Chris Watson

Fangorn Forest Edge- Mavora Lakes Conservation Park  

The Mavora Lakes, which are part of the Te Wahipounamu/South-West New Zealand World Heritage Area, include beautiful lake, mountain, and forest vistas so it's no surprise that the location was used to film numerous scenes in Lord of the Rings.  One of these sequences is when Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli follow Merry and Pippin as they flee the uruk-hai on the outskirts of Fangorn Forest. ‘Fangorn Forest’ can be seen along Takaro Road. Cameras were suspended from wires on both sides of the road during filming to record Aragorn as he moved through this forest.

To reach the Mavora Lakes from Te Anau, drive 30 kilometres down State Highway 94 before turning left onto Mavora Lakes Road. Continue for approximately 35km until you reach the Mavora Lakes Conservation Park.

Mavora - Cedit Marilyn Hunter

Nen Hithoel – North Mavora Lake 

The Mavora Lakes served as the mythical setting for Nen Hithoel, described in The Fellowship of the Ring as a large lake on the River Anduin. This is where the fellowship set up camp and it was also where Boromir's body drifted into Nen Hithoel after his death, carrying him home along the River Anduin. 

The Fellowship leaving Lothlorien/ Silverlode River - Mararoa River 

The Mararoa River and the swing bridge at South Mavora Lake were used to depict the Fellowship's departure from Lothlorien. To find this filming location head to the southern end of South Mavora Lake and you will find the swing bridge near the camping area.

Mavora Lake - Credit Chris McLennan

South of Rivendell - Lake Manapouri  

Lake Manapouri featured as the stunning setting known as South of Rivendell in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. Lake Manapouri perfectly captures the mysterious grandeur of Rivendell, home of the elves. Footage of the lake is also used in the dramatic moments in The Fellowship of the Ring when the fellowship flees with the eagles, perhaps you will remember Gandalf saying "fly, you fools!"?  

Fangorn Forest - Snowdon Forest Conservation Area 


Snowdon Forest Conservation Area was used to film the scenes set in Fangorn Forest, the home of the ents (the giant tree shepherds). Fangorn Forest is an important place in the beginning of Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers, both for the characters it introduces and for its historic atmosphere. Scenes filmed here include when Gandalf whistles for his horse Shadowfax, when Aragon follows the Hobbits’ after escaping from Urukhai, and during the reveal of changes to make Gandalf the Grey, now be known as Gandalf the White.

In addition to its use as a filming site for The Lord of the Rings, Snowdon Forest is a famous hiking and fishing destination. To visit Snowdon Forest, take State Highway 94 out of Te Anau, then turn left onto Kakapo Road and left again onto Takaroa Road.

Snowden Forest - Credit Takaro Lodge

Redcliff Cafe and Bar 

No Lord of the Rings tour in Fiordland is complete without stopping in at the Redcliff Cafe and Bar which is highlighted in the LOTR travel guide as a firm cast and crew favourite, while you are there check out their framed T-shirt signed by the cast who frequented the bar regularly and enjoy a pint where they sat. 

Fun fact 

Tolkien was inspired by the black tunnelweb spider of New Zealand (porrhothele antipodiana) when writing his description of Shelob, the enormous spider featured in The Return of the King. Shelob was obviously quite a lot bigger than the standard New Zealand tunnelweb and a lot scarier by the time Peter Jackson added extra teeth and Tolkien added the stinger. Tunnelweb spiders can be found all over New Zealand, both in the forest and in gardens so you may be lucky enough to spot one during your Fiordland adventure.  


21 Sep 2021

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