We all have movies we love so much, like for me, I really love, LOVE, Narnia, The Lord of the Rings, and The Hobbit.
What I loved about the movie was the whole setting. Having lived in a city of bricks and metal made the all-nature fantasy setting more attractive, because it had seem like a faraway, nonexistent place. As I grew older, I realise that those places are closer than I had thought.
So, if you want to relive movie moments, New Zealand is the place to be, because it’s natural beauty makes for a breathtaking movie setting. Here’s a 7-day trip around that:
Day 1: Waikato Town of Matamata
What better way to start your adventure than at Hobbiton, the very place where hobbits reside? The Waikato Town is actually a dairy farm with unique landscape used to portray the peaceful shire region of Middle-earth.
Image: Rachel Lovinger
In all honesty, after watching The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, seeing actual humans at the location felt a little weird, because the houses we see in the movies are how the houses actually look. The entire place is really just filled with greenery, very much different from the environment we live in today.
Day 2: Mt. Ngauruhoe
I’m not sure about you, but I like to travel at night to my next destination rather than waking up early the next day to travel. It’s easier to enjoy because then you don’t have to walk around feeling the fatigue of public transportation on your back. I’d reach my destination at night, check-in, and check-out the next morning. I’d also highly recommend a car rental there.
Image: Laura Beasly
Mt. Ngauruhoe is the shooting location for Mt. Doom, but of course, it was digitally altered to look more… threatening, as the name would suggest. The actual location is much more stunning, but it can be quite tiring to explore.
Image: Jurriaan Persyn
There are a few trails you can take, or you can purchase a package to include a guided tour, or even an audio tour. It will take you the whole day to actually explore the area, or perhaps even more. I went for the 19km hike through the park, which was a feat for me because I usually only walk less than 2km a day, but it was really worth it. The view is just… amazing.
Day 3-4: Pelorus River
From Mt. Ngauruhore, I’d suggest taking the next day just to rest and travel to the next destination, which is the Pelorus River. The journey takes about 9 hours by car, so, if you stop for meals and breaks it would take you just about the entire day.
Image: Jeff Hitchcock
The Pelorus River would probably bring back some… fond memories if you were a dwarf in the Desolation of Smaug, you know, escaping with your friends in barrels. No barrels are provided in the actual location, though, but since the movie is shot there, who knows, you might just stumble upon a piece of movie prop.
You’d probably still be exhausted from the hike, so just take some time to relax, or maybe do a little fishing while enjoying the view while you’re at the Pelorus River. If you’re still up for more adventure, you can go kayaking down the river, and pretend you’re in a barrel.
Day 5: Flock Hill
Image: Low Cloud
The great battle scene of Narnia was filmed here. I didn’t spend too much time here because there wasn’t much that you can do, other than exploring and feeding your social media with pictures. I spent most of the day just chilling, purely enjoying the view (while fantasising about being a Narnia character in battle).
Day 6: Mt. Sunday / Lake Pukaki
Although I went for both places during my trip there, it’s less tiring if you go to either one of these locations, because both locations boasts a view of mountains and hills, featuring beautiful lakes.
Mt. Sunday is ideal if you love more hikes, and it’s relatively nearer to Flock Hill too. There are several walking or hiking trails you can go to, depending on your preference. I went for the simple walking track of 1.5km, and I really took my time walking just to take a closer look into Edoras.
On the other hand, Lake Pukaki made my trip more relaxing with the calm, blue waters which is the set for Laketown in the Desolation of Smaug. There’s always just something about waters that makes you feel more in peace with yourself, and I really love that feeling.
Day 7: Paradise
Isn’t it just perfect that you’d end your journey in Paradise? This location is a real bonus, because it’s the shooting location of more than one movie. The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Narnia, and even Wolverine were all shot in Paradise, Queenstown.
Image: Jeff Hitchcock
The place is really well-named. Today, we live surrounded by brick and mortar, with advanced digital technology, and in all honesty, we’re not any more happier than we were in the pre-social media age. That was probably why Paradise felt like an eye-opening experience to me.
Image: Jeff Hitchcock
It’s located away from civilisation and you see nothing but nature, nature, and more nature, so if you’re really into that, Paradise is an awesome place. Even if you’re not, just having a break from our usual digital routine really lightens your mood. Or in my case, reminiscing about that scene in Wolverine actually made me tear up a little.
I really miss my trip there, and I’ll probably plan another one with different locations, so stay tuned for that!