A little more than three years ago, I interviewed several die-hard Atlanta-based enthusiasts of author J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy and director Peter Jackson’s subsequent films. The story appeared in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and explored the Shire of serious fandom in anticipation of the release of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.” You can find the story here.
While tracking down Tolkien devotees, I came across Rebecca Perry, who writes articles and makes convention appearances for the fan site TheOneRing.net. Her story hit close to home as it involved an uber geeky travel experience of the Tolkien kind. Not unlike Bilbo and Frodo, Perry had gone on her very own journey to Middle-earth’s cinematic stunt double: New Zealand.
There she explored immaculate locations from “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy and even found herself in the midst of all the hubbub surrounding “The Hobbit” premiere in Wellington. And like everyone I’ve ever spoken to who’s been to New Zealand, she couldn’t get over the myriad of natural beauty.
Since writing the article back in 2012, I periodically run into Rebecca at nerd-related events. I recently asked her if she wouldn’t mind putting together her Top 5 Tolkien sites in New Zealand.
Although Perry’s preparing for yet another adventure —she’s attending HobbitCon April 1-3 in Bonn, Germany— she quickly obliged. Below are her picks.
So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags, and go on your own unexpected journey to New Zealand. Just don’t forget to double up on the lembas bread.
-Jon Waterhouse, Nerds on Holiday
My Top 5 Tolkien Things To See in New Zealand
By Rebecca Perry
Built on a private farm near Matamata for “The Lord of the Rings trilogy,” Hobbiton was rebuilt for “The Hobbit” trilogy to look exactly as it does in the films. Once you've gone on the guided tour, you can stop in The Green Dragon Inn for a pint!
2. National Park Village
There isn't much to do in the village itself besides visiting its hostel and a cafe/gas station. But it’s centrally located with breathtaking views of three active volcanoes: Mt. Ruapehu, Mt. Tongariro and Mt. Ngauruhoe, which were featured in “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Mt. Ngauruhoe was the model for Mt. Doom, the Tukino ski field on Mt. Ruapehua was used to film the Gates of Mordor, and the Whakapapa ski field on Mt. Tongariro was used for Mordor.
3 - Hakatere Conservation Park
This is where Edoras was flimed. The Golden Hall of King Theoden was located on Mt. Sunday. It's tricky getting there on your own, because it's pretty remote. The easiest way to get there is with one of the many “Lord of the Rings” guided tours. My favorite is Red Carpet Tours: redcarpet-tours.com
4. Putangirua Pinnacles National Park
Made up of a large number of unusual earth pillars, this was the filming location for The Paths of the Dead, where Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli go in search of The Army of the Dead, in “The Return of the King.”
No Tolkien fan’s trip would be complete without a visit to New Zealand's capital. In addition to all of the great shops and restaurants, it's home to Weta Workshop (who did all of the props, costumes, and visual effects for both film trilogies). You can now take a behind-the-scenes tour. Mt. Victoria is also nearby, where some filming for “The Fellowship of the Ring” took place.