New Zealand through a Hobbit’s eyes


During filming of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Viggo Mortensen insisted on a sword was full weight and size for his role of Aragorn. Not everyone had a sword so heavy. During the Lord tour in New Zealand, we had a chance to wield a replica.


When Frodo and Samwise make their way across a glacier, it was that one there in the Remarkables, New Zealand’s mountains at the edge of Lake Wakatipu.

When my husband and I decided we were going to New Zealand, we were thinking of Hobbits and elves, Mordor and Gondor. I may have gotten tired of the battles in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but I fell madly in love with the scenery. Someday, I thought as I eagerly watched each of the Peter Jackson movies, I’m going to see these beautiful places.


Tour guides have on hand film stills to spark movie memories as visitors stop to admire some awesome scenery. These same locations were used in a variety of films, from the LOTR trilogy to X-Men and the Chronicles of Narnia.

New Zealand has had a lot of visitors interested in the same scenery so visitors can find plenty of tours.

We opted for Nomad Safari‘s 4WD tour of Glenorchy near Queenstown on New Zealand’s South Island. A half day adventure, tourists get a sweeping view of glaciers, meadows and mountains and end up in the Elf Forest wielding a sword.


The cleft in this mountain was used to great effect during an avalanche scene in Rohan. Once you see the movie again, you’ll understand.

The tour group was small: about a dozen people divided among two Land Rovers. The guides were friendly, full of details about the movies I didn’t even remember.

Remembering the actual scene didn’t matter to me. I drank in the glassy lakes, the snow-capped Remarkables and the sun-dappled forest. And, yes, afterwards, I sat down and watched the movies to see that scenery all over again.

Ⓒ Text and photos Mary K. Tilghman


Got into the spirit in the Elf Forest — you remember, it’s where Sean Bean, I mean, Boromir, dies after an epic battle.



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