You’ve probably heard of The Lord of the Rings’ Hobbiton set in New Zealand’s North Island, but it’s time to visit one of Middle-Earth’s most spectacular locations – the Misty Mountains (a.k.a the Southern Alps).
Stretching like a snow-capped spine along the length of the South Island, the Southern Alps are so breathtakingly beautiful you’d be forgiven for thinking they’re CGI. They’re best explored from holiday hotspot Wanaka, which pairs beautiful lakeside accommodation with some of the best skiing in the Southern Hemisphere. There’s something for everyone in Wanaka – avid skiers, wine enthusiasts or the incarnation of pure evil, hell-bent on destroying the free world with your magical ring of power (which appears to have been misplaced).
Wanaka is one of the best places to explore scenery from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, and, even if you’re not a fan of the films, the natural beauty of this region is truly impressive. Check in at Ramada Resort by Wyndham Wanaka, unpack your bags, and head out on an adventure!
Catering to hard-core fans of the film, there are countless tours of the region available, with knowledgeable guides that will help to bring the locations to life and make you feel as though you’re following in the footsteps of Frodo and Sam. If you’re keen to get a holistic sense of the mountains, there are helicopter tours that will provide you with an eagle’s-eye view. Tours range from simple excursions right through to the multi-day expeditions offered by companies like Lord of the Rings Tours.
To really want to get into the spirit of the movies, take a trip by boat down the Clutha River, where orcs attacked and separated the Fellowship in The Fellowship of the Ring. Alternatively, strap on a backpack and take a guided hike through the mountains and bushland. Make sure to bring comfortable hiking shoes – one does not simply walk into Mordor!
The Southern Alps
For those who aren’t moviegoers, there’s still plenty to see and do in Wanaka, starting with a journey up the Southern Alps. They are truly epic in scope, and dominate the township’s skyline.
You don’t just have to look, though – you can ski down them! Wanaka is beloved by alpine sports fans, and is ranked by National Geographic as one of the world’s top 25 ski towns. The town receives more snow than anywhere else in the country, and boasts three ski areas to choose from, as well as the largest heli-skiing zone in the Southern Hemisphere.
Exploring Wanaka itself is a great idea. There’s a multitude of different things to do for every holidaymaker. For LOTR fans, there are themed eateries and Puzzling World, where you can experience the forced perspective techniques that were used to make the Hobbits appear small without digital effects.
There’s also a range of other quirky activities including a classic-style movie theatre (Cinema Paradiso), a slew of art galleries and some spectacular collections of classic cars and warbirds.
There’s sure to be something in Wanaka to keep you fascinated and amazed. The town and surrounding region are absolutely stunning, and it’s not hard to see why it was chosen to represent a magical world, or how millions fell in love with the scenery.