There are two months to go until we finally say goodbye to Middle Earth with the final installment of The Hobbit trilogy. As its five preceding movies, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies was filmed almost entirely in New Zealand. By now, it is safe to say that New Zealand has permanently become the land of Tolkien and high fantasy for decades to come, or at least until somebody decides to film the Silmarillion.
The locations for The Battle of the Five Armies is still relatively hush-hush, but as we wait for it, let’s look at a list of known regulars.
The signature look for all of Tolkien’s adaptations can be found in Hobbiton, and Hobbiton is a town that actually exists, and it located in Matamata! Explore over 44 hobbit holes, grab second breakfast at the Green Dragon Inn, and pay your respect to the looming Party Tree – this is the number one stop for not only die-hard LOTR fans, but just about anyone visiting New Zealand. Not all the sights in the vicinity belong to the LOTR franchise – you can hike or find a spot of relaxation at the nearby Wairere Falls.
2. Mount Cook
Ever since The Fellowship of the Ring came out, director Peter Jackson and his loyal location scouts have been lauded for amazing, breathtaking scenery. One could take all the aerial shots of the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, and create the greatest ever promotional video for New Zealand, and most of these shots were taken around Mount Cook. It was hard for the crew to get to most, helicopters were constantly used, but location visitors can simply choose a Mount Cook walking track and spend a wonderful day marveling at lush horizons at their own pace. Be sure to take one that goes near Lake Pukaki, for it is the setting of Laketown, the place where The Battle of the Five Armies took place.
The timeworn cliffs and forest of Piopio served as a set in plenty of scenes, most notably the Troll scene from An Unexpected Journey, and Bilbo receiving his sword, Sting. A guided tour of specific Piopio filming locations can be booked with Hairy Feet Waitomo Scenic Film Location Tours.
This is a very well situated town. The varying landscape around it is inviting to adventurists of all kinds, making Twizel a practically a summer camp and a starting point for hiking, spending a morning playing golf at Ben Ohau golf course, chartering a boat across Lake Ruataniwha, going for a horseback ride or opting for some heavy cycling. It is known by another name in Middle Earth, Pellenor Fields. Indeed, Twizel is where the epic final battle of The Return of the King took place, and more recently, the set for the Warg chase from An Unexpected Journey.
5. Pelorus River
This original fantasy story may be best remembered as an epic tale of adventure, but the readers know it as one lengthy travelogue, and the movie-watchers know it as a comedic story of true friendship. LOTR had the unlikely duo of Legolas and Gimli, and The Hobbit has the Barrel Scene. This comedic, fast-paced action sequence was filmed around, but mostly in Pelorus River. Visitors won’t get a chance to recreate the hilarious scene, but you can go camping and kayaking instead.
This one is not for the short of breath. The glorious elven town of Rivendell may be just a model, but it’s location is not. Anybody can follow in Bilbo and the dwarves’ footsteps on a lengthy and fantastically scenic hike up the Earnslaw Burn track, Earnslaw Burn being a glacier valley covered in multiple waterfalls.
Once known as a popular ski-site on Mount Ruapehu, Turoa is now known for something else. It is the entrance to the Lonely Mountain and the dragon Smaug’s rich treasure cave. The dwarves spent a lot of time pondering how to enter the mountain, but the casual tourist needn’t trouble with burglary – you can trek, hike, or cycle your way to Tongariro Crossing, one of the most beloved walking tracks worldwide.