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Wellington is The Middle of Middle-earth. It’s here that Sir Peter Jackson’s epic film adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien’s novels The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit come together. Sets, costumes and digital effects are created at Weta, footage is edited with music and sound at Park Road Post, and fans travel from around the world to take location tours and see the films at the Embassy and Roxy cinemas.
In 2012, for the World Premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Wellington officially took on the name The Middle of Middle-earth, and the city was transformed with building-scale artworks and a Hobbit Artisan Market. The international media came to town - as did an estimated 60,000 Wellingtonians and visitors - to see the stars walk the 500-metre red carpet. As excitement builds again for the release of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Wellington is once again the place to be and Gandalf and two great eagles have swooped in to the gateway to epic fantasy, the Middle of Middle-earth.
Wellington is a city where the magic of movie-making comes to life. While sets from The Lord of the Rings no longer remain due to legal and conservation reasons, there are many ways visitors can experience and learn about the city’s world class film industry.
Expert Wellington tour guides – often extras from the films - know and share the secrets of film-making at scenic The Lord of the Rings locations and take visitors to the famous Weta Cave, where the story of the city’s world class production, digital effects and artists are shared.
The shop front of the world famous Oscar-winning Weta Workshop. View a selection of props, pick up collectibles and be sure to watch the behind-the-scenes film in their mini theatrette.
This historic theatre originally built in 1926 was the venue of the world premiere of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and will host the world premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Be sure to check out the name plates with the actors and characters' names by the engulfing leather seats.
Roxy Cinema – this beautifully revamped cinema in Miramar merges the style of the art deco era with the technology its residents are famed for and counts Oscar winners Richard Taylor and Jamie Selkirk among its owners.
Mount Victoria - the first day of shooting for The Lord of the Rings took place on Mount Victoria’s city belt, which also has fantastic views of Wellington city and harbour.
Drive along the South Coast of Wellington, where you will come to the quaint seaside suburb of Seatoun. Most of the cast and crew stayed/stay here during filming. Continuing on the South Coast past Breaker Bay and Wellington International Airport, you will get to Lyall Bay. This was where Billy Boyd (Pippin) and Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn) learned to surf and also happens to be home to one of Wellington’s best cafes – Maranui Café.
Stars and VIPs walked 500 metres of red carpet from Reading Cinema to Embassy Theatre, both of which screened the film for invited guests on the evening of 28 November, 2012.
The city transformed into Middle of Middle-earth for celebrations, with highlights including: