Chasing The Ring

Tolkien created worlds that exist only in our minds. Father to the Hobbits, creator of Middle Earth and inventor of the One Ring: the books, places and languages he put to paper are now widely understood, and, thanks to Peter Jackson, not just in our minds anymore. Fans of both The Hobbit and Lord Of The Rings franchises will be positively jubilant to hear that contrary to Boromir's famed statement; one DOES simply walk into Mordor. Yes, you’re awake. We pick out the LoTR locations for you to relive the experiences behind the screen and between the pages.

Edoras – Mount Sunday, Canterbury, NZ

Containing New Zealand's largest peaks and glaciers, the alpine region of Canterbury is the perfect location for Edoras and the Golden Hall of Meduseld. Rather than use CGI, a full set was built on Mount Sunday, a hill in the centre of the plain, which took the production crew nine months to build. Everything from the Golden Hall with surrounding buildings at the peak to the gatehouse and more buildings at the foot. In a valley of White Mountains; no place in this world could be more perfect for the capital of Rohan.

Paths of The Dead – The Putangirua Pinnacles, NZ

Not quite as frightening in real life; the Putangirua Pinnacles are the result of mountain erosion that began seven million years ago. Over the past 120,000 years, the Putangirua Stream washed down scree and gravel to the coast; in turn exposing an ancient layer of gravel, and some dramatic voodoo-looking pinnacles. Jackson chose this for the creepy Paths of the Dead in Return Of The King – where Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas wander through to conjure the Undead. You can camp in the scenic reserve surrounding the ancient pinnacles or take designated walking routes to view the haunted passages for yourself.

Battle Of Amon Hen – Mavora Lakes

Jackson used these tranquil lakes for several filming locations in the Lord of the Rings trilogy: both sweeping wide shots and major significant moments are to be seen here. The heartbreaking scene in which Boromir was killed defending Merry and Pippin took place here ("My Brother, my Captain, my King" never fails to make us weep); and also the River Anduin, of which the Fellowship travelled down from Lothlórien to Parth Galen. It was also used for the home of our beloved Treebeard – the enchanting Fangorn Forest – as well as Nen Hithoel (the Lake of Many Mists). Mavora Lakes is one of the most isolated camping and hiking areas in New Zealand; and one we're totally dying to visit.

Oxford, England – The Eagle And Child

Apologies for leaving the magical lands of New Zealand, but we wanted to take you to the place where Lord of the Rings first came to life. The Eagle and Child was Tolkien's den; and the place he first read LoTR... to none other than C.S.Lewis himself. We suggest you check it to pay your respects to what would once have been a legendary meeting.

The Argonath – Kawarau River And Gorge, NZ

The Kawarau River of Otago plays a crucial role in The Fellowship Of The Ring: it stands as the River Anduin, flowing from the Misty Mountains to the Mouths Of Anduin, and this spot in particular was the setting for the grand Pillars Of The Kings. In the book, the enormous monuments bore the likenesses of Isildur and Anárion, the High Kings Of Gondor; however, Anárion was removed entirely from the movies and replaced with his father Elendil, who can be seen in Peter Jackson's model. The statues themselves were computer generated and mixed with live action footage; so you'll have to use your imagination if you ever visit the gorge. It's also home to the world's oldest Bungy Jump site; if you're interested in throwing yourself from tall things.

Forest River – Pelorus River, Marlborough, NZ

Want to recreate the scene from The Hobbit: Desolation Of Smaug, where the dwarves and Bilbo escape the Elvenking using empty wine barrels down the river? Well, why not do it at the exact place it happened? Visitors to the river can swim or kayak down the waterways used by Peter Jackson for the epic three-way water battle between the escapees, Woodelves and Orcs. Just watch out for those poison arrows.

Rivendell – Kaitoke Regional Park

Under an hour north of Wellington City is Kaitoke Regional Park; a place of true Elvish tranquility. Nearly 2500 hectares of native rainforests and crystal clear river pools make up the pristine spot used to create the atmosphere that surrounded the house of Elrond. There's beauty at each turn: swimming in the tranquil rivers; taking in centuries-old beech, rimu, rata, hinau and kamahi trees: it's the closest you're gonna get to the Undying Lands in this age. It's said that Tolkien's inspiration for Rivendell may have been based upon the Lauterbrunnental, one of the biggest nature conservation areas in Switzerland, where he had hiked in 1911. The secluded valleys and waterfalls indubitably bear striking resemblance to the Elven outpost of Middle-Earth.

Lothlórien – Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown, NZ

"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 words of Legolas, or a description of Queenstown's Lake Wakatipu? Delving deeper into Lothlórien, which Peter Jackson portrayed with pools of moonlight and sun-filled forests; the historic gardens and ornamental lakes of Fernside (NZ) were used. It was also the setting for the classic scene in which Sméagol fought Deagol beside the Gladden Fields. The picturesque grounds are all joined to a country house, that cannot be accessed unless you stay as a guest, but it's totally worth it to stand on the white bridge of Lothlorien; the mystical location in which the Fellowship bid farewell to the Lady Galadriel.

Gondor – Mackenzie Country

Hey, where's all the Orcs? The grassy fields of Mackenzie Country (near to the town of Twizel) were chosen by Peter Jackson to film the epic battle for the city of Minas Tirith; the lands where dark forces of Sauron clashed with the good men of Gondor. The battle was the biggest and most important event of the War of the Ring – and the landscape that stretches here is pretty much written straight from the book. You can help you discover the stretches of Gondor and provide you with everything you need to create your own epic battles on the fields. Plus, you can dress up in Gondorian helmets and get some damn sexy photos.

Mordor – Mount Ruapehu, Whakapapa Skifield

The land of Sauron... and, sheep? Indeed, the breathtaking splendour of Whakapapa doesn't look at all threatening from this image; but don't be fooled. Mount Ruapehu is the largest volcano in New Zealand, and one of the world's most active; still fuelled by the works of Morgoth, perhaps. Rather similar to Tolkien's descriptions - the place of filming is home to two other volcanoes - Mount Tongariro and Mount Ngauruhoe; providing the perfect grim backdrop for the Land Of Shadow. Tongario served as the menacing Mount Doom: where the Ring was originally forged by Sauron, and the endpoint of Frodo Baggins' quest to destroy it. And yes, you can ski here.