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The Tolkien Enthusiast
The Lord of the Rings Movie Project


We want real landscapes but we want them heightened. New Zealand is perfect because it's a slightly skewed version of Europe.

Peter Jackson, director.

Locations are listed in rough order of appearance in The Lord of the Rings.


It appears as though the strange events at Harcourt Park in Upper Hutt (a little north of Wellington), were releated to the introduction - setting the scene for better viewer understanding of some of the plot features. Because of the number of potentially plot-spoiling comments, don't read on if you haven't read The Lord of the Rings yet.

Bag End

Home of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins (and later of Samwise Gamgee and family) arguably the heart of Hobbiton - the central village of Hobbits in their homeland of the Shire.

Spoiler warning: Don't have a look at this picture if you don't want to know what it looks like (at present). And just ignore the half-naked man in the front yard if you do decide to look at it. Ha! Now you do want to look at it, don't you. Apparently there was a huge net argument raging about whether the picture is real or not. We'll find out eventually, but read my views on it (and view the picture) in the Silly File.

The towering achievement is the ancient oak that stands above Bilbo Baggins' home, Bag End. LOTR crews constructed the tree, handpainting and attaching 250,000 leaves (and a few acorns) to its branches.


The start of the hobbits' journey, New Zealand's version of Hobbiton has been constructed on Ian Anderson's farm on (appropriately enough) Buckland Rd, a few kilometres out from Matamata in the Waikato. Travel time from Auckland, about two and a half hours.

The set features Hobbit holes with windows, doors, and chimneys, a pond and meandering stream, and the Party Tree (described above, under Bag End). The set has been left to "mature" for a few months before filming starts there. Truckloads of dead leaves have been collected to enable "instant" autumn when the time arises.

Work on the set started in September 1998. While the lake existed prior to LOTR's arrival, most of the land was swamp, which had to be drained and cleared. Crew then laid down 5,000 kiloliters of soil to create the gently rolling hills of Hobbiton. A field overlooking the lake was replowed to appear like hobbit-farmed land.

BTW, the roads leading out of Matamata toward Hobbiton aren't quite like this map in actuality. There are roads down both sides of the railway line and Hopkins Rd doesn't cross the railway line.

The Journey to Bree

Somewhere on the road between Hobbiton and Bree, the Hobbits hide from a Black Rider off the road behind a big tree. This filming was done on the first week of filming - 11 to 15 October 1999. Extra trees were brought in to supplement the mostly pine trees on Mt Victoria in Wellington, in order to make the trees look more dense. A large tree stump was brought up from the South Island for the hobbits to hide behind (possibly not showing the cut off top).

It is believed that this is the location where concept artist Alan Lee broke his arm. Check out a report I stole off the Internet right at the end of October (with light editing):

Howdy! "Buzz" here... :-) I am sitting at my desk in the front window of my Mt Victoria flat, when suddenly at the section of bush up the end of the road there's all these billowing white clouds coming out of the trees. Very much like the billowing white clouds of, say, a smoke machine. Okay, and now I can see the utility it's coming from. And suddenly a light has come on through the trees. The smoke seems to have stopped for now, and I can see some people moving around up there. Think I might take a wander and see what I can see. :-)

Well..I got a couple of hundred metres up the road and it started hosing down with rain. No jacket, so home I came. But I can make out what look like a couple of tents up there, presumably for behind-the-camera purposes. From the way the smoke was released much further down from where the lights are to drift up through the trees, I presume the smoke machine is for mist purposes. Haha... they appear to have had a visit from the fire service. Presumably a concerned local phoning in about billowing clouds of smoke. :-)

Y'know, I sure hope they want Middle-earth to be rainy, because ever since filming started there seems to have been a weirdly disproportionate amount of rain. The first week featured probably some of the worst weather we'd seen in months. :-) Small wonder Alan Lee broke his arm... it's not exactly pedestrian-friendly terrain in a lot of places up there.

Hmmm. He seems to end each paragraph with a smiley, except the last one, which arrives half way through the paragraph. :-(


The view from Seatoun above the Bree set.


This set has been constructed in Seatoun - a suburb of Wellington. The outside of the Prancing Pony and a town square has been built on the front of an old army barracks. If you don't mind the possibly spoiling nature of having a look at what it looks like, cast your browser at the Bree photo page. BTW, there is good reason to believe that the streetlights will not appear in the final scene. Really.

Lothlorien (aka Lorien)

Because Tolkien's Lothlorien forest features gold foliage, set decorators have scattered thousands of gold-painted leaves on the ground. Since this is a national park with strict rules, the crew must remove every leaf when shooting concludes.

Lothlorien was one of the scenes filmed while the crew was based in Queenstown. Queenstown had just a few problems...

Rohan, Edoras

The country of the horsemen, Rohan, and its principle city Edoras is to be filmed in Canterbury, South Island, New Zealand. Canterbury is known for its rugby team (colours red and black), the plainness of the countryside (meaning it's very flat) and the backdrop of the Southern Alps. The only problem for PJ and his team is that the mountain range runs north/south, not east/west, which could potentially provide lighting difficulties, unless everything there is filmed at midday.

No wait. It's just cloudy the whole time. That's when it's not snowing...

Anyway, a few more pics are on the way.


Mt Doom/Orodruin

There can only be one Ngauruhoe, and it sits between Mts Ruapehu and Tongariro in the North Island's Central Plateau. Snow normally vanishes completely off Mt Ngauruhoe in the warmer months of the the year, and Mt Doom (I'm pretty sure) doesn't have any snow on it - so this is the location, but not what it'll look like.

Photograph taken by Julian Apse - please don't be too angry if you ever find out about this - think of it as a plug for Kathmandu clothing. And incidently it's also a good example of how good a scan can be made of something from a magazine. Note - no moiré.

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