Discovering Peter Jackson’s New Zealand

When I mention to anyone that Bruce and I spent more than three weeks in New Zealand last year, the first thing many ask is “Is it really as beautiful as it looks in the Lord of the Rings movies?”
New Zealand's South Island

Mt. Cook in the distance at Aoraki National Park. Photo by Bruce N. Meyer

And of course, the answer is an enthusiastic and unequivocal YES!

I’ve been a J.R.R. Tolkien fan since high school I guess, when we were required to read The Hobbit.  And then, I became a Peter Jackson fan with the release of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. After our visit to New Zealand where all of the movies have been shot, my appreciation for all things hobbit has begun to touch the edge of fanatical.

A Visit to Welly-wood, New Zealand

We started our tour in Wellington, which is known as Welly-wood because of the exploding film production industry there. Our first stop was at the Weta Cave, a visitors center of sorts for the Weta Workshop, the creative genius behind the costumes and creatures and middle-Earth images of Lord of the Rings. FYI – a weta is a bug, kind of like a cricket, so you might see that image on many things throughout New Zealand.

Wellywood, New Zealand

The simple entrance to the Weta Workshop belies the creativity that takes place here. Photo by Bruce N. Meyer


Lord of the Rings, New Zealand

A life-size Gollum greets visitors to the Weta Cave. Photo by Bruce N. Meyer





lord of the rings creates

Bruce hanging with his middle-Earth friends, created by the Weta Workshop.









Our next stop was Mount Victoria, a city-park like setting and the highest point in Wellington. The views of the harbor are beautiful, but the trees are what brought Peter Jackson and the film crew here.  Early in the Fellowship of the Rings, when Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin have been run out of the farmer’s fields and then stumble down an embankment into the forest – that’s in Mount Victoria. And then the black rider comes riding down the road?  That’s right here.

Wellington New Zealand

The road where Frodo and friends first encountered the black rider. Photo by Bruce Meyer

But we got the best sense of New Zealand’s contribution to the magnificence of The Lord of the Rings production as we toured the South Island by camper van. One day we took a flight seeing tour over the snow-covered mountains and into Milford Sound. That day erased any doubt when answering the question “Is New Zealand as really as beautiful as it looks in the movies?”  What do you think?

new zealand flight seeing tour






mount cook new zealand






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