Many locations in the Lord of the Rings trilogy is altered by CGI (computer-generated imagery). Peter Jackson attempted to use less CGI to make the movie appear as natural as possible. Instead of creating a purely CGI volcano for Mount Doom, he ingeniously decided to bring the cast and crew to an active New Zealand volcano. A daring move, but the result is awe-inspiring. The filming of a Lord of the Rings volcano is only one of the things you'll read about below.
The Lord of the Ring trilogy is a remarkable achievement. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King won 11 Oscars out of the 17 awarded to the series. Just when you thought Return of the King concluded, several endings followed. The movie went on and on, yet we hoped it never would end. Lord of the Rings is one of the few series that is almost impossible to improve in a remake.
You too could visit Middle-earth by traveling to the place it was filmed. Below, you will find unusual facts about where the Lord of the Rings was filmed, and most importantly, why the series is awesome. These are 25 things most people don't know about where Lord of the Rings was filmed.
25 Tongariro National Park Was Used For Mordor
Tongariro National Park is not as treacherous as it would appear as Mordor in the Lord of the Rings. To find the area where the land of Mordor was filmed for Lord of the Rings, you should head to Tongariro National Park. As a national park, it offers much to keep tourists busy. You could be hiking across the Tongariro Crossing, and it is advisable to do so since you would be embarking on a journey like Sam and Frodo. Making Tongariro National Park appear like Mordor, a gloomy and barren land, would have been done in editing.
24 Sean Bean Hiked A Mountain In Full Costume Instead Of Taking A Helicopter Ride
Instead of taking a helicopter like many other set members did to reach the top of a mountain in Fellowship of the Ring, Sean Bean chose to reach the summit during a two-hour hike in his movie costume. Besides, why can't Sean Bean hike the mountain? It's the least an actor could do to prove he is more than an onscreen character. On another note, Sean Bean is the same actor who played Ned Stark in Game of Thrones. It has nothing to do with Lord of the Rings, but who could pass up a chance to reference Game of Thrones?
23 Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, France Was The Inspiration For Minas Tirith, But Much Of The Filming Was Done With A Miniature Scale Replica
Much of the filming for the battle of Minas Tirith was completed with a miniature scale replica. Some of the movies' aerial shots are done with the miniature scale replica, which isn't that miniature. The amount of detail that went into these replicas is tremendous.
After the Helm's Deep set was used, the same set was altered and changed into Minas Tirith, the capital of Gondor. If you look at Minas Tirith and then Helm's Deep, you might notice their similarities. The bottom of Minas Tirith looks much like Helm's Deep. Also similarly, they were the locations for two of the most epic battles seen in Lord of the Rings.
22 It Appeared To Be Snowing In New Zealand, But They Used A Rice-Based Compound Instead
According to the website of thewrap.com, "The snow was actually a rice-based compound that severely irritated the skin and eyes of the actors. On the flip side, many scenes filmed on-location were done during the winter, even though it was meant to be spring in Middle-earth." Throughout the Lord of the Rings movies and The Hobbit movies, snow has an impact on the journies. In the Fellowship of the Ring, for example, there was a time when Aragorn and others were caught in the midst of a blizzard. The weather of New Zealand would often differ from the climate of the movie, so additions like artificial snow were integrated.
21 Mount Doom Was Filmed On An Actual Volcano
Even with the risk of exposing his cast and crew to the eruption of an active volcano, Peter Jackson decided to use Mount Ngauruhoe for his fictional Mount Doom. According to the website of nationalpark.co.nz, "Mt Ngauruhoe has been active for at least 2,500 years. It as produced more than 70 eruptive episodes since 1839." It's possible it could have erupted during filming but its highly unlikely. The temperature of the volcano is decreasing, and the main vent of the volcano could be soon blocked.
The result of filming Mount Ngauruhoe and a post-filming finish of CGI was a spectacular Mount Doom, the mountain that was used to destroy the One Ring.
20 Hobbiton Was Created A Year Before Production
It took more than a year for The Shire to be created. To regulate the length of grass and give it a natural look, sheep were used to eat grass. The Shire is meant to be lively with much shrubbery, real vegetable patches, and flowers. The journey of Lord of the Rings starts with the Shire and ends with Mordor, a location that contrasts with the Shire. Since Mordor is firey and gloomy, it is fitting for the Shire to have a pleasant ambiance. Peter Jackson's version of the Shire is a close match to author J. R. R. Tolkien's description.
19 Kawarau Gorge Contains The Anduin River From Fellowship Of The Ring
The Anduin River was the river that the remaining members of the Fellowship paddled through during the Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. The Pillars of Kings (Argonath) are the two colossal statues that act as a gate for the river. You too could visit the Anduin River and ride a boat just like Aragorn, and other Lord of the Rings characters did. The above scene occurred just after Gandalf sacrificed his life to give the remaining members time to escape. Unlike the river, you won't find two colossal kings at Kawarau Gorge; those were added with CGI after the original print.
18 New Zealand's Landscape Is Perfect For Lord Of The Rings
The rolling green hills and mountain ranges make New Zealand fit for filming Lord of the Rings. Director Peter Jackson chose the country because of its impeccably close resemblance to Middle-earth from the Tolkien books. Jackson did not feel the need to use other countries for filming locations since New Zealand, an island country with a population of 4.794 million, had everything he needed. Jackson regarded New Zealand as "the perfect Middle-earth." It has a place for The Shire, Mordor, Gondor, Rohan, Helm's Deep, and the mountains that Frodo and Bilbo Baggins would cross in Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.
17 The Shire's Filming Location Was In Matamata
To find the Hobbiton town, you merely have to visit Matamata, a town on the north island of New Zealand. The opportunity to see the Shire, the hometown of iconic characters like Frodo Baggins, Samwise Gamgee, Merry, and Pippin, would be essential for a Lord of the Rings sightseeing tour. Let alone the location being a beautiful town; set items can be found in Matamata. While in Matamata, you can find tours and a The Shire Store. One can find specialty Hobbit brews for sale in Matamata. It's undoubtedly a trip you won't regret—especially if your a fan of J. R. R. Tolkien works.
16 Middle-Earth Used To Be Flat!
Attention flat-Earthers who will find this factoid interesting. Although the Earth is round, Middle-earth is flat. We aren't referring to the middle of the Earth, but the Middle-earth that is the setting for Lord of the Rings.
According to the website of tolkiengateway.net, Middle-earth was flat when first created, and it later became a round world in the final books of The History of Middle-earth. Typically, Middle-earth is considered to be flat since it was in most of J.R.R. Tolkien's works. "The Flat World version was chosen by Christopher Tolkien for the published The Silmarillion," says tolkiengateway.net
15 They Filmed The Whole Trilogy In New Zealand In 274 Days, Yet The Journey Took Place Over Almost 18 Years
The films were shot at the same time with movies overlapping. In a mere 274 days, Peter Jackson was able to film the entire collection of events for Lord of the Rings. After watching the movie, you may think that it doesn't seem like they were all filmed so close together. There are so many scenes (including the extended scenes), so what Peter Jackson accomplished is incredible. Had the movie been shot in multiple countries and not only New Zealand, filming the trilogy so quickly may have been impossible. Despite being filmed over 274 days and the theatrical movies having a cumulative length of 9.2 hours, the journey lasted 18 years.
14 Milford Sound Became Fangorn Forest
The overgrown forest from The Two Towers that contained talking trees used Milford Sound for its location. 1883 Explorer James Hingston once wrote when referring to Milford Sound, "For thousands of feet upwards the eye looks upon straight cut rocky frontages, not worn smooth by time, or by wind or water, but as sharply defined and as fresh looking in all respects as if riven asunder but yesterday by the stupendous wedges of Titanic Masons.“
We especially liked Fangorn Forest because of its untamed forestry and obscure appearance. Many people become lost in Fangorn Forest as areas of the forest look very similar. Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli feared that the white wizard who was in Fangorn Forest was Saruman and not Gandalf. You may be able to find the spot where viewers were introduced to Gandalf the White.
13 Rivendell Scenes Were Shot In Kaitoke Regional Park
Remaining pieces of the set are found at various Lord of the Rings filming locations, which is another reason to visit New Zealand. There was a significant spike in New Zealand tourism following the release of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Much like how hosting the Olympics can give countries worldwide recognition, Lord of the Rings had a comparable effect to New Zealand's tourism.
This particular screenshot shows one of the gates to Rivendell, the elf city in Middle-earth. It was at Rivendell that the Fellowship of the Ring was formed, and the task of melting the One Ring in the fire of Mount Doom was appointed to Frodo Baggins.
12 The Skeleton Road From Return Of The King Is At The Putangirua Pinnacles
The long, narrow cliffs leading to the cave of the undead in Return of the King can be found at Putangirua Pinnacles. The location is ideal for hiking and sightseeing. You don't need a reason to visit a filming location of Lord of the Rings. You won't see the undead at Putangirua Pinnacles, but you will experience part of Middle-earth.
Few could forget the scene when Aragorn peered into the gap, only to witness an undead skeleton staring back at him. Aragorn's gaze was interrupted by Gimli who exclaimed, "Aragorn, let's find some food." Aragorn's adventure through the path allowed Gondor to win the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.
11 The Films Were Filmed On The North And South Island Of New Zealand
The combination of the Undying Lands and Middle-earth in the Lord of the Rings universe slightly resembles the islands of New Zealand on a map. When looking at the locations individually, however, they look nothing alike. New Zealand's landscape is ideal for the set of Lord of the Rings, but it's not a replica.
The Undying Lands are not found in Lord of the Rings, but they are referenced numerous times. Frodo, Bilbo, Gandalf, and the elves set sail for the Undying Lands in the final film. The Undying Lands are a mystical land for immortals and ring bearers. Gandalf is an immortal, so he was allowed to go, and the elves' banishment expired, so they could return as well.
10 Deer Park Heights Contained The Battle of the Wargs Scene
The Riders of Rohan galloped across this field, which looked slightly different when wargs, a type of vicious and shaggy wolf, attacked. Deer Parks Heights contained the Battle of the Wargs scene, which included the part of Lord of the Rings when Aragorn fell off a cliff. Many thought that Aragorn had passed away when he went missing after the Battle of the Wargs scene. An orc near his end told Legolas and Gimli that Aragorn "took a tumble off the cliff." The orc had Aragorn's amulet and seemed to be telling the truth, but Aragorn survived with help from Arwen.
9 29% Of New Zealand Is Forest
Fans of the series, who are interested in more than just the Lord of the Rings story, may be intrigued to learn that New Zealand is 29% forest. New Zealand, the country where Lord of the Rings was filmed, is covered in trees, which makes it a good fit for filming the two trilogies. As stated by archive.stats.govt.nz, "New Zealand’s forest resource covers over 8 million hectares, or 29 percent of New Zealand’s total land area."
The scene in the above photo is unforgettable. Appearing early in the Fellowship of the Ring, it introduced us to the Nazgûl, who are also called Ringwraiths.
8 The Films Were Filmed Entirely In New Zealand
Despite the Lord of the Rings feeling like it was filmed from another planet, the Lord of the Rings motion pictures were filmed entirely in New Zealand. Actors and crew members were transported to various location sometimes by helicopter. New Zealand somehow contains all the places needed for Lord of the Rings Middle-earth location. According to the website of screencrush.com, "More than 350 sets were utilized for the over 100 different shooting sites, which meant bad news for one cast member in particular." Lord of the Rings would have been a different movie if it were filmed elsewhere.
7 New Zealand Contains The Town With The Longest Name In The World
The hill with the longest name in New Zealand didn't appear in Lord of the Rings, but it's worth noting that when you decide to visit Lord of the Rings' filming location, you can visit Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu, the hill with the longest name in the world. The record is official since according to the website of .lightfoottravel.com, "Those 85 letters make it the longest place name listed in Guinness World Records." One can visit the surrounding area and take photos, but the actual hill is private property and requires permission. Driving to the hill takes a little over 3 hours from Wellington, New Zealand.
6 The Hobbit Prequel Trilogy Was Also Filmed Entirely In New Zealand
Most fans and reviewers say that the Lord of the Rings trilogy was the superior of the two motion picture trilogies in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth universe. The Hobbit movies didn't work as well as Lord of the Rings for numerous reasons. Possibly The Hobbit is not liked as much because the book didn't translate well to the big screen. Also, Lord of the Rings took place over three books and was made into three movies. Oddly, The Hobbit is one book and was stretched into three movies.
At least Peter Jackson decided to keep The Hobbit in New Zealand. We've seen better from Peter Jackson, but The Hobbit could have been much worse. The Hobbit's filmmakers returned to the same location for the Shire and reconstructed it with small changes.
5 The Tallest Mountain In New Zealand Became The Tallest Mountain of Moria
Fittingly, Mount Cook was used for the filming of the Mountain of Moria. Mount Cook appears higher than its surrounding mountains, which makes sense since the mountain of Mount Cook is the tallest mountain in New Zealand. In addition to characters of the Lord of the Rings traversing Mount Cook, the mountain appeared in various backgrounds of the movies; one instance being during the opening scene of Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Mount Cook in New Zealand has ski lifts and slopes, so it's an appropriate trip for Lord of the Rings enthusiasts and Ski and Snowboarders alike.
4 Helm’s Deep And The Minas Tirith Battles Were Both Filmed At Dry Creek Quarry
Helm's Deep was the location of one of Lord of The Rings' most epic battles. 10,000 Uruk-hai, the strongest type of Orc, stormed the walls of Helm's Deep in Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. You may be interested in learning that parts of the Minas Tirith battle and the Helm's Deep battle were filmed at Dry Creek Quarry in New Zealand.
It's not the coolest location to visit since its a dull quarry, but many Lord of the Rings enthusiasts will find visiting Dry Creek Quarry interesting regardless. How the area was transformed into a Lord of the Rings set is astounding.
3 Gondor Was Filmed In The Mackenzie Country
Situated on the side of a mountain, Gondor's filming location, the Mackenzie Country near Twizel, is the ideal location to film its scenes. Beside the mountain is a wide-open field that is ideal for the setting of the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, which may have led to the capture of Minas Tirith by Sauron's army.
It's a spectacle to be seen, and it's even more special since Return of the King was filmed in Twizel. According to newzealand.com.au, "the biggest ever day of filming in the trilogy with more than 1500 actors and crew involved, was shot here. Lord of the Rings location travel guides highly recommend this location tour."
2 New Zealand Gave Lord Of The Rings Really Good Tax Credits
Lord of the Rings made more money at the box office than anyone could have predicted. According to onlinemba.com, "It made $1.1 billion, not including the $200 million in advance taxation credits New Zealand offered to lure director Peter Jackson away from Australia for filming." New Zealand gave Lord of the Rings significant tax credits.
The filming of Lord of the Rings was still advantageous for New Zealand since the country saw a 40% increase in tourism from the years 2000 to 2006. That must be the secret to boosting a country's tourism; by filming a beloved movie franchise entirely in the country. Peter Jackson initially wanted to shoot in Australia, but choose New Zealand for its incentives among other reasons.
1 Because A Location Was Rained Out, Frodo And Sam's Conversation Was Finished And Filmed A Year Later
As stated by mentalfloss.com, the most extreme example of a scene that was shot in sections was "the scene in The Return of the King where Frodo, urged by Gollum to think Sam has betrayed him, orders his loyal sidekick to go home. First Sam’s part was filmed, then Frodo’s … a year later."
When watching the scene, you might notice a variance in lighting. One part of the scene was filmed, then a year later, the other half was finished. Each movie released one year after the other in theatres—it's an impressive feat considering each movie is over 3 hours long!
Sources: findingtheuniverse.com, kiwiexperience.com, backpackerguide.nz, ageofthering.com, scifi.stackexchange.com, media.newzealand.com, ranker.com, hobbitontours.com, onlinemba.com, forbes.com, fiordland.org.nz, newzealand.com, lightfoottravel.com