Since the release of the first Lord of the Rings film, tourism in New Zealand has not been the same. All the evidence you need is right there on New Zealand’s tourism site; their biggest tour plug on the homepage states, “Take a journey through Middle-earth.” And boy can you do that. The site has mapped out important spots from all the movies and suggest tours around the films like A Haflings Ramble on the North Island or Elven Magic which is a 10-day tour through all of middle earth (you can hit Auckland, Wellington, Glenorchy and Queenstown, among other spots). Or, tour companies like Hobbiton Movie Set Tours will do all the scheduling for you. But, many of the sites can be seen on your own. Here are three spots we think you should definitely hit:
For a true The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings experience, you should definitely start in Hobbiton (The Shire). The quaint town was rebuilt in Matamata (on the North Island) to appear exactly as it did in the movies.
Crazy cool rock formations in Waitomo date back to prehistoric times. The looming cliffs made up the scenes in The Hobbit where the Trollshaw Forest and Staddles Farm were shot.
You’ll be sure to recognize much of the scenery in Fiordland National Park from both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The park has been designated as a World Heritage Site and can be explored on foot, by boat, bike, or even air.