From Middle Earth to Narnia, the magnificent settings of these fictional worlds have wow-ed people off their seats and onto the next flight to New Zealand. Beyond the silver screen, New Zealand is a treasure trove of stunning natural landscapes. Here are some of them!
1. Matamata, Waikato
Nowhere else screams Middle Earth more than the real-life Hobbiton. Matamata is an agricultural town in the Waikoto region. Nestled in it is Alexander Farm, the film set for The Lord of The Rings trilogy and The Hobbit trilogy.
Now it is a filled with gardens, hobbit holes and even The Green Dragon Inn, a fantastical pub frequented by travellers and locals from The Shire.
2. Cathedral Cove
Dramatic cliffs, sandy beach and a scenic cavern framed by a rocky archway – Cathedral Cove is one of the most romantic and photogenic places in New Zealand. Walk across the lush valley to the hill overlooking the bay, or down the meandering tracks lined by a pine forest. This breathtaking cove is also where scenes from the Chronicles of Narnia was set!
3. Lake Pukaki & Mount Cook, Canterbury
This alpine jewel in the Southern Alps features glacial mountains that seem to illuminate the turquoise lake. The nation’s highest peak, Aoraki Mount Cook, looms over the surreal landscape. Lake Pukaki is popular amongst hikers, stargazers, cyclists, mountaineers and Lord of the Rings fans.
4. Bowen Falls, Milford Sound
At 162m, Bowen Falls is the highest waterfall in Milford Sound. Known to the Maori as Hine-Te-Awa, or the girl of the river, it is a spectacular sight at the hanging valley of the Darren Mountain Range.
5. Fiordland National Park
With snow-capped mountains, sparkling fiords, lakes and valleys, the world-famous national park is a haven for nature enthusiasts. Home to three of New Zealand’s Great Walks, it can be explored on foot, by car, sea kayaks and even scenic flights or cruises.
6. Te Puia Thermal Reserve, Rotorua
As the geysers erupt hot water and send smoky mist across the valley, it feels as though you are in a mystical realm. This isn’t far from reality too. Te Puia is the guardian of Maori culture. Not only do would you see the Pohutu geyser explode 30m into the air, you can experience Maori culture and see the native kiwi bird.
7. Rainbow Springs, Rotorua
If you love wildlife, then you would want to visit Rainbow Springs. Surrounded by lovely forests, it is a sanctuary for New Zealand’s beloved residents, from native birds to reptiles and wild trout. The park also runs interactive experiences and close-up encounters, which are fun for the family!
8. Castle Hill, Arthur’s Pass
Located 90 minutes from Christchurch, Castle is a collection of limestone rocks and streams. Close to Flock Hill where the battle scenes in Narnia were filmed, the boulders attract climbers to this unique conservation area.
9. Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown
Named after a Maori term which means “bay of spirits”, Lake Wakatipu is the nation’s third largest lake, carved out by a huge glacier in the last ice age. Legend has it that the Z shape of the lake was formed when the giant Matau was burnt to death in his sleep for abducting the chief’s daughter, and the rise and fall of the lake every five minutes is the restless heart of the giant. Today the lake lures outdoor lovers to experience the alpine magnificence.
10. Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Waitomo
Imagine being in a boat gliding into the ancient caves, surrounded by magical glowworms glittering in the darkness. Waitomo Glowworm Caves leaves anyone spellbound with this unforgettable natural wonder – it’s no surprise that this is on every vacation list!
Paradise is a place on earth. More specifically, it is at the end of the Queenstown-Glenorchy road. Once used for the film setting of The Hobbit and Wolverine. Paradise boasts stunning vistas that will get shutterbugs snapping and take your breath away.
12. Bay of Islands, North Island
Towards the north of Auckland lies the gorgeous Bay of Islands, which consists of 144 islands in a sapphire bay. Great for exploring by kayak, you will be able to visit gorgeous beaches, mangrove forests, waterfalls and secluded islands while learning about the history of the region.