An iconic scene from the Lord of the Rings Film where Frodo Baggins is lying on the ground, reaching upward and the ring is falling onto his finger.

Wellington was the production base for all three of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ films. It was the first time anyone had embarked on such an audacious project filming three major films simultaneously.

The third and final film, ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Return of The King’, won 11 Oscars® at the 2004 Academy Awards®. It joined landmark films ‘Ben Hur’ and ‘Titanic’ for the most awards won by a film.

For three years, Wellington played host to hobbits, elves, and orcs as well as live-action shooting and green screens for the latest special effects.

The visual effects realised at the local facilities in Miramar showed off Wellywood’s technical and production capabilities. The trilogy developed new techniques in both digital effects and model-making.

The filmmakers also had access to incredible locations on their doorstep, filming many key scenes in Wellington.

Plus being only 10 minutes from Wellington International Airport, the production could easily film in the stunning landscapes throughout New Zealand. They also had ready access to Los Angeles.

On location in Wellington

Production and post-production were in the Wellington suburb of Miramar. The base for world-class sister facilities Stone Street Studios, Wētā Workshop, Wētā FX, and Park Road Post Production.

While these facilities enabled many studio scenes — the Rohan city of Edoras, Helm’s Deep and Fangorn Forest. The diversity of land around Wellington enabled many other scenes to take place on location near Miramar.

  • Just a few minutes from the city centre, Mount Victoria played host to key scenes. Including the hobbits hiding from the Nazgûl shortly after leaving Hobbiton.
  • Close-up shots for the Dunharrow (Rohirrim camp) scenes made use of Mount Victoria’s disused quarry.
  • On Wellington’s south coast, a cliff face in Lyall Bay was also used for Dunharrow. Further along, the coast at Red Rocks is where Frodo, Sam, and Gollum reached the Black Gate.
  • Miramar Peninsula served as the outskirts of Bree. The Prancing Pony and village of Bree were built around army barracks at Fort Dorset, in Seatoun.

Other spectacular sets built around the region included Helms Deep at Dry Creek Quarry just north of Wellington city and Rivendell at Kaitoke Regional Park.

To help create the sound of 10,000 chanting Uruk-hai orcs during the Battle of Helm’s Deep for ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers’ director Sir Peter Jackson recorded 30,000 fans chanting in the Black Speech (the language of Mordor) during the lunch break of a cricket match at Sky Stadium.

“I feel incredibly proud that this country, and especially this town, is responsible for what we have done.”

Peter Jackson