New Zealand is well known by Lord
of the Rings fans as Middle Earth because it was the
setting for the trilogy. Peter Jackson, New Zealand
born and the director of the trilogy, filmed all
three films in several locations all over New
This trilogy of movies is Academy Award winning,
having garnered 4 Oscars for The Fellowship of the
Ring, 2 for The Two Towers, and 11 for The Return of
the King which includes Best Director and Best Film
awards. It demonstrated the skills of the crew and
the cast. However, one of the big victors is New
Zealand. The Lord of the Rings trilogy took 2 years
to film but the set took millions of years to build.
The decision to film the 3 Tolkien-based movies in New
Zealand was, for director Peter Jackson, logical. It was not
just due to the fact that he resides there, and the nation’s
capital city of Wellington (also known as “Wellywood”) is
the location of his state-of-the-art digital studios, Weta
Digital and Three Foot Six (his film studio).
It was also
because he knew what other film-makers on the international
scene have been finding out in the last few years: that New
Zealand is the world’s best country to shoot the trilogy,
due to the diversity of locations the country has.
Jackson, along with his team, searched New Zealand
for the scenic and diverse regions. “Hobbiton” was
set in Matamata’s rolling hills, “Mt. Doom” (where
Sauron created the Ring) was set in Mt. Ruapehu’s
volcanic region, and the “Pillars of Argonath” and
the “Eregion Hills” were set in the nation’s
adventure capital, Queenstown.
The special effects team of Jackson transformed the
already spectacular landscape of New Zealand into a
mystical Middle Earth with the aid of
state-of-the-art digital computer genius, adding
mountains and buildings where none existed. Filmed
for a little less than 300 days, the Lord of the
Rings made use of 350 sets which were purposely
built in over 150 locations throughout New Zealand.
This included 30
sites of the Department of Conservation. The usage of
national parks and conservation sites entailed the
employment by Jackson of a lawyer specialist to acquire
consent to shoot in protected locations.
Shooting in National Parks entailed the uprooting of
plants to accommodate the set. These plants were
temporarily put up in large specially made nurseries
then returned at the end of filming.
In Queenstown, the location of arduous battle scenes
in the film, approximately one thousand people were
each day on set. A large amount if red carpet was
laid out to protect flora from being trampled on.
People on location also had to make it a point that
they didn't ruin cultural symbols. The Lord of the
Rings popularity has witnessed tourism companies in
New Zealand offer a wide array of tours that
showcase filming sites and adventure activities or
general places of interest.
For fans Tolkien novels and those who are just mildly
curious, these tours change in length with several
personalized Lord of the Rings choices available.