LOTR - Queenstown
The majestic beauty of New Zealand's adventure capital was an ideal setting to capture Tolkien's Middle Earth, and the cast and crew fell in love with the dramatic mountain scenery of this region.
'I recalled sitting in Queenstown against the mountain range aptly titled the Remarkables and feeling I was actually living the books. It was like Tolkien had walked across New Zealand.' (Sean Astin, Souce: The Lord of the Rings Location Guidebook, by Ian Brodie).
Queenstown's Lake Wakatipu was used as the location for some scenes involving 'Lothlorien', home to the Lady of the Forest, Galadriel. 'There lie the woods of Lothlorien!' said Legolas. 'That is the fairest of all the dwellings of my people. There are no trees like the trees of that land. For in the autumn their leaves fall not, but turn to gold.' The Lord of the Rings, J R R Tolkien.
The river Kawarau, which flows from Queenstown's Lake Wakatipu to Cromwell, became part of the Great River Anduin, and fans can now raft past the site of Argonath (the Pillar of the Kings) with Extreme Green Rafting. The pillars themselves, of course, were computer-generated.
There were also many scenes shot in the areas around Queenstown. The hilltop of Deer Park Heights (800m) was used for locations in all three films, including the scene where Gandalf rides to Minas Tirith on the West Road to Gondor, and the scene where the refugees escape from Rohan. The snowcapped Remarkables, which tower above Queenstown, doubled as the slopes of Dimrill Dale, down which Aragorn leads the fellowship to Lothlorien after their ordeal in the Mines of Moria.
The historic goldmining town of Arrowtown, a short drive from Queenstown, lies near another The Lord of the Rings film location, the rugged Skippers Canyon. This was the site of filming for Arwen's (Liv Tyler's) most dramatic moment - her confrontation with the Black Riders at the Ford of Bruinen. The town is also famous for the autumn colours of the exotic trees that line its main street.
North of Queenstown is Glenorchy, a tiny hamlet at the northern end of Lake Wakatipu which forms the gateway to rugged Mt Aspiring National Park. The area was used for scenes involving Isengard (Glenorchy and Paradise), Lothlorien (Paradise), Ithilien Camp (Twelve Mile Delta) and Amon Hen (Closeburn), where Merry and Pippin were captured by Orcs. Glenorchy Air offers Lord of the Rings flights.
Dart River Safaris take jetboat safaris into this scenic region, and Heliworks also offer a The Lord of the Rings flight to visit locations including Amon Hen and the Ford of Bruinen.
Southeast of Queenstown, deep in the heart of Central Otago, the rolling hills and rocky spurs of Ida Velly, near Poolburn Reservoir, became the location for Rohan. The cast and crew spent many weeks filming here, and had to be transported to this rugged location by 4WD. The Poolburn Lake also doubled as Rohirrim village, which was plundered by Orcs in The Two Towers.
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