If you're a fan of the Lord of the Rings movies you can visit many of the films' locations in New Zealand on foot.
Here are out top ten movie location walks
Mount Doom: Mount Ngauruhoe, Tongariro National Park
If you'd like to see Mount Doom up close, there is a three to four day tramp around Mount Ngauruhoe, its real-life counterpart. Known as the Northern circuit, this Great Walk starts and finishes at Whakapapa Village and includes most of the Tongariro Crossing, another of the area's spectacular alpine walks over volcanic terrain. For those wishing to actually climb Mount Doom, there is a 1.5 hour walk from the Mangatepopo hut to the base of the mountain; beyind this point you will need climbing gear and a lot of experience.
The Gates of Mordor: Tukino skifield, Tongariro National Park
Lying on the slopes of Mount Ruapehu, Frodo and Sam were prepared to enter Mordor this way – until Smeagol told them there was another option. You can walk in to this spot from the gate on the Tukino Skifield road and then spend some more time exploring Mordor – go on one of the volcanic short walks, catch a glimpse of Mount Ruapehu on the Northern Circuit or attempt the crater climb (for experienced climbers only). Just remember to check the volcano's status before you set out – there were fears that it was growing restless after neighbouring Mount Tongairiro erupted in November last year.
Ithilien: Ohakune, Tongairiro National Park
Tongariro NP not only made a convincing Mordor; it also featured as Sauron's close neighbour, Ithilien. Several scenes were shot near the Ohakune Mountain Rd, such as Smeagol catching a fish and Frodo passing a ruined column in a clearing. Neither of these spots are too far from the road, but there are also several walks you can do in the area including the 3km Mangawhero Forest Loop Walk and the 4km Waitonga Falls Walking Track, which (very appropriately!) continues to the multi-day tramp around Mount Doom.
Dimholt Road: Putangirua Pinnacles, Aorangi Forest Park
The way is no longer shut and the dead do not keep it. Instead of riding down this road to meet with a spectral army in the hope of saving Minas Tirith, hikers can enjoy one of two tracks up to the Pinnacles. These large pillars are some of the country's best examples of badlands erosion, which has created a really eerie landscape – it was also featured in Peter Jackson's film Braindead. Trampers can choose between the streambed walk – keeping a close eye out for falling rocks – or take the more direct route from the junction to the lookout.
Edoras: Mount Sunday, Hakatere Conservation Park
For a short period of time, Hakatere Conservation Park in the Canterbury region of the South Island was home to the capital for the Riders of Rohan and to Meduseld, the home of King Thedoen. The set is gone but Mount Sunday and its views of the region remain and can be accessed via the short Mount Sunday easement track from the Hakatere Potts Rd. This walk will only take around 45 mins, so you may want to add a few extra tracks onto your itinerary, such as the Lake Clearwater track or the Double Hut to Manuka Hut tramp.
The Argonath: Kawarau Suspension Bridge, Queenstown
This bridge isn't just famous with adrenalin seekers; the Fellowship passed through here while looking up at the Pillars of Kings: giant statues of Anarion and Elendil (in the book it was Isildur) that stood at the northern borders of Gondor. From here, if you don't feel like bungy jumping, you can follow the 11km Gibbston River Trail along the Kawarau River to Peregrine Wines – there are several loops in the track so you can make it shorter or varied. Instead of sharing the track with hobbits or elves, you may have to share it with cyclists.
Ithilien: Twelve Mile Delta, Queenstown
Located just outside Queenstown on the Glenorchy road, the Twelve Mile Delta marks the spot where Sam discussed the best method of preparing a rabbit with Smeagol and then spotted the Oliphants and their riders. If you'd like to explore the area, there is a track from here to the nearby Bob's Cove, which meanders along the edges of Lake Wakatipu and through the native bush, before connecting with the short Bob's Cove Nature Walk. For a longer walk, the Lake Dispute Track starts just above the Delta and climbs through Pittosporum shrubland to the high country lake.
Isengard: Mount Earnslaw, Mount Aspiring National Park
Nan Curunir (the Valley of the Wizard) and its tower Orthanc were located just outside of Glenorchy, with Isengard and Saruman's tower Orthanc in the centre. Unlike the movie version, this area wasn't destroyed by the wizard in his attempts to breed the Uruk Hai – instead, it can be explored on the 4-5 day Dart Rees tramping circuit, which heads through the Dart Valley and along the Rees River. Other options include the Earnslaw Burn walk and the Mt McIntosh Loop, both of which have impressive views of Mt Earnslaw/Pikirakatahi, or the Routeburn Track, another of the nine Great Walks.
Silverlode and Anduin Rivers: South Mavora Lake, Southland
Moving south, walkers can also view the point where the fellowship left Lothlorien. It's actually near the Mararoa River swing bridge, which forms part of a 2.5 kilometre walking track that heads downstream along the Lake Mararoa River and around the shores of the South Mavora. This area is also home to the North Mavora Lake, which marked the spot where the Fellowship left the Anduin (not such a long journey after all), and the spot where Legolas, Aragorn and Gimli searched for Merry and Pippin among the bodies of the orcs at the edge of Fangorn Forest.
The River Anduin: Waiau River, Fiordland National Park
The stunning shots of the Anduin River at the beginning of the Fellowship of the Ring were filmed on the Waiau River, which runs alongside part of another of New Zealand's great walks, the Kepler Track. If you haven't got time for a four-day tramp, you can just access this section from the Rainbow Reach carpark and admire it on a day walk. Not far away – near the Manapouri Te Anau Highway – is the Kepler Mire aka the spooky Dead Marshes, which formed just one of the many barriers into Mordor that Borormir must have been thinking of.
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