5 Hobbit Locations You Must Visit
Featured destinations: New Zealand, Queenstown
Published 30 March 2016
With the second installment of the Hobbit now in cinemas, there’s no better time to explore some of the film’s most beautiful filming locations. Most of Bilbo’s epic journey was shot in the director’s home country of New Zealand, meaning that it’s your one-stop shop for the ultimate Middle Earth pilgrimage.
Fiordland National Park
Fiordland National Park was used in both The Lord of the Rings’ and The Hobbit’s epic landscape sequences. The scene when Bilbo and the party flee on the backs of Gandalf’s eagle buddies from a pack of wargs was also filmed here.
When I visited last I was taken aback at just how magnificent the fiords themselves were, and I’ve seen the fjords in Iceland so I can draw fair comparison. There is a lot to do in the park; I booked a guided walk – having had little hiking experience at the time – which turned out to be an excellent decision. Waterfalls, fjords, camping – you name it, Fiordland National Park has got it.
There were many scenes from the Hobbit that were filmed in Queenstown, but none more striking than when Bilbo and the party leave Rivendell to continue their quest. The location in question is known as Earnslaw Burn – an ancient glacier that has crept along for thousands of years.
Meltwater waterfalls form around the edge of the glacier which creates a seriously dramatic scene though which to walk. One recommendation is the Earnlaw Burn Track – a 4 – 6 hour hike that tests even the toughest. If you’re not a seasoned hiker then it’s worth hiring a guide to show you the best way to navigate around the mammoth glacier’s banks. I didn’t hire a guide and got very lost and very cold.
Hobbiton is probably the most recognisable location in both of Peter Jackson’s trilogies. Bilbo, Frodo and a cast of other hobbits call it home. The town of Hobbiton was purpose built in Matamata, New Zealand for the Lord of the Rings trilogy and remains open for public tours which is pretty darn cool.
With entry at $75 upwards it’s not cheap, but definitely worth every penny. Visiting Bag End – Bilbo and Frodo’s home – was completely surreal, as was popping in to the local pub. I was amazed to find that, rather than just being a set-piece, the Green Dragon pub served real beers, ales and ciders. Of course, I sampled them all.
We all remember the Battle of the Pelenor Fields, and if you don’t remember it by name, it’s the huge battle near the end of the third Lord of the Rings installment – Return of the King. The mountain town of Twizel was lucky enough to host these battle scenes, as well as newer scenes from the much newer Hobbit trilogy.
I visited Twizel to satisfy the side of me that likes action because the area is great for all things outdoors. I went on two guided mountain climbs that, if you travel with a camera, would make for some amazing scenery snaps. I also went on three mountain biking trips across the countryside. Twizel is a quaint place, yet has great life in it and is well worth the trip.
Pelorus River, Marlborough
This river was the set for the famous ‘dwarves in barrels’ scene in the upcoming Hobbit film. Bilbo and the dwarves are escaping peril and set down the river hiding in barrels with the hope of reaching their destination unscathed.
My own trip there involved drinking in the landscape on long walks into the bush, exploring the nature reserves and paying a visit to a local bat sanctuary. One particular highlight was a kayak tour of the river itself. We passed waterfalls and navigated some complex obstacles before stopping to have a look at the exact spot where the scene was filmed.