Meander through Middle-Earth
Several Hutt Valley locations were used for The Lord of the Rings - the epic movie trilogy directed by Peter Jackson
Most know it as New Zealand or Aotearoa, but to some it’s called Middle-earth. Sir Peter Jackson’s much-loved Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed entirely in our fair nation, with many iconic scenes taking place in spots around the Wellington region.
While a huge amount of effort went into leaving the pristine environments untouched after filming was completed, there are still plenty of ways to follow in the footsteps of the Fellowship of the Ring in the Hutt Valley.
Kaitoke Regional Park is known for a few things - its ancient rainforest ripe for hiking and mountain biking, its hidden swimming spots in the river, and its Lord of the Rings filming locations. This park was transformed into the city of Rivendell, the refuge for the Elves and the place where the fellowship was formed, and a replica Elven archway still stands among the bush, making for the perfect photo op.
In a peaceful, pretty suburban park, eagle-eyed film buffs will spot the location where Gandalf the Grey rode to meet Saruman to discuss the predicament the ring posed. Upper Hutt’s Harcourt Park is a popular spot for family days out, bushwalks and discgolf, but it became the Gardens of Isengard for the trilogy’s first film. The films also transformed the Hutt River into the Great River Anduin, where the Fellowship set off to meet their destiny. Head to the area between Moonshine Bridge and Poet’s Park to recreate this moment for yourself.
If you’ve ever admired the finely woven yet cosy-looking Elven cloaks donned by members of the Fellowship, it’s time to get your own. Renowned for their camouflaging colour, lightweight warmth and ability to hide hobbits in plain sight, creating the real-life versions of these mystical garments was no mean feat. Luckily Stansborough woollen mills were up to the task, and produced the exquisite capes from their home in Petone, a seaside town in Lower Hutt with an industrial history. This artisan producer boasts its own flock of rare-breed gray sheep, whose fine wool has made Stansborough famous among movie-makers and textile connoisseurs. You can now visit to tour the mills and pick up your own Tolkien-esque textiles, from modern accessories and homewares to those exquisite Fellowship cloaks.
You can drive between these beautiful locations without much difficulty, but the best way to see it all is on a guided tour. The Rover Ring Tour is an incredible experience that’ll take you from site to site while sharing the cinematic stories behind the blockbuster series. You’ll ever get a sneaky peek at some of the lesser-known locations, like the quarry that was transformed into Minas Tirith and Helm’s Deep. Many of Rover’s guides were crew members or extras in the series, so they’ve got on-set gossip and tales of celebrity encounters in spades. They also know all the best spots to nab that perfect Instagram shot.
Understanding how Sir Peter Jackson and his team transformed New Zealand’s great outdoors into a fantasy land is an amazing experience. For any self-respecting film buff, you can’t beat the experience of seeing these sites in person in the Hutt Valley.