The Hobbit movie cover Movie Locations Guide

Where was The Hobbit filmed?

About The Hobbit

The famous Lord of the Rings trilogy has set the scene for fantasy films and novels and has gained a huge fan base around the world. Although these films were released first, the novels were given a prequel titled The Hobbit which gives backstory and flavor to the setting and characters of the series.

A decade after the Lord of the Rings movies were released the story of The Hobbit finally came to the big screen. The novel was split into three films; The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. All of the films were directed by Peter Jackson.

The journey, which takes place over the three films, follows the hobbit Bilbo Baggins, played by Martin Freeman, alongside Ian McKellen, cast as the wizard Gandalf the Grey. We are brought along on the journey of Bilbo Baggins, which took place 60 years before the time of the Lord of the Rings films, as he is convinced by Gandalf to join a group of dwarves and act as their burglar to help recover the treasure lying in the lair of a dragon named Smaug. The first movie begins the journey and ends when they finally reach the resting place of Smaug in the Misty Mountains and is also when we see Bilbo first find the One Ring from Gollum.

The second film introduces the group to new obstacles and enemies as they make their way to the lair of the dragon. They encounter orcs, elves and countless terrifying creatures, like giant spiders for example, before reaching their destination. At the same time, viewers get more of a backstory on Gandalf the Grey and his own adventure as he discovers that the Dark Lord has awakened, creating a new threat to Middle-earth.

The final movie takes place as the dragon plans revenge for his betrayal and the rest of the races of Middle-earth prepare for their own war over the treasures now reclaimed from Smaug. However, the bigger threat of Lord Sauron covers the land in darkness and leads into the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Did you know that The Hobbit movies were originally planned to be filmed and released before the Lord of the Rings trilogy? However, issues with the rights and negotiations stalled the films and they were not released until afterward. As well, there were supposed to only be two Hobbit movies but there was so much detail that they had to add a third. Spoiler alert: make sure that you watch all three films. We’ll cover a lot of exciting happenings here!

City Locations

Matamata, Piopio, Twizel, Queenstown, Wellington

Location Types

Castles, NatureScapes

Location Styles

Cabin, Castle/Chateau, Mountain Huts

The Hobbit Locations

After having so much success in the filming and release of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, it is no surprise that the team decided to film The Hobbit in the same place. All of the scenes from the three movies were shot in New Zealand, which is a place filled with stunning natural beauty and is easily transformed into the perfect fantasy setting for the series.

If you are a fan of The Hobbit movies then you might be interested in seeing where it was filmed. Below are some of the filming locations of The Hobbit that you can visit in person.

Bilbo hosts party for the dwarves scene in The Hobbit

Matamata, Waikato

In The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, near the beginning of the film we see Bilbo Baggins, the hobbit, peacefully enjoying his dinner at home when he suddenly gets a knock on the door. After answering it he sees a dwarf on the other side, who invites himself in and begins making himself at home. One after another more dwarves begin showing up, much to the dismay of Bilbo who just wanted a quiet evening to himself.

They jest with Bilbo, who is more than unimpressed with the way that they are treating his house and his things. Eventually, Gandalf explains why they are there and tells Bilbo about the dragon Smaug who has not been seen for 60 years, and the dwarves are afraid that some other parties might be planning a trip to the lair to claim the gold for themselves.

To succeed on their mission to reach the treasure first they need a burglar, and having a hobbit on the team would be to their advantage. It takes more than a bit of convincing but finally, Gandalf manages to persuade Bilbo to join them by reminding him of how adventurous he used to be. “A young hobbit who would have liked nothing better… than to find out what was beyond the borders of the Shire. The world is not in your books and maps. It’s out there.”

This scene and all of the others that were filmed in the Shire took place in Matamata, Waikato in New Zealand. The Hobbit film set was first built for the Lord of the Rings trilogy but was taken down after the shooting was complete. However, for The Hobbit films, they made the set permanent. Today you can still walk through the Shire to Bag End, step foot into the houses and even eat something at The Green Dragon Inn.

Bilbo and the dwarves are attacked by orcs at Trollshaw Forest scene in The Hobbit

Mangaotaki in Piopio

This scene takes place in the first movie of the trilogy, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. After stopping to rest at the Staddle Farm, Bilbo and the gang are met with trolls who would love to have them for dinner. Bilbo, who understands that the trolls are not very bright, convinces them to leave the dwarves alone and claims that they are filled with worms and parasites. “They’re infested with parasites, it’s a terrible business, I wouldn’t risk it, I really wouldn’t.” They let them go but it doesn’t take long for the party to encounter their next threat; orcs.

The first enemies to show up are Warg scouts, who always arrive before the orc pack. Since their ponies have run off, the wizard Radagast the Brown offers to draw them away while the dwarves, Gandalf, and the hobbit escape. They manage to avoid the orcs by jumping into a cave that leads to Rivendell.

This scene at the farmhouse and the encounter with the trolls take place in the beautiful area of Mangaotaki in Piopio, New Zealand. You can easily recognize the area by the incredible rock formations and it is a fantastic location for a hike to this filming location of The Hobbit.

The dwarves escape in barrels scene in The Hobbit

Pelorus River Bridge Scenic Reserve

This scene takes place after the dwarves became prisoners of King Thranduil. At first, they were imprisoned in the webs of giant spiders until Bilbo managed to free them, but before they could escape they were met with Legolas and Tauriel. The two wood elves capture the dwarves and take them away, only missing Bilbo because he was invisible using the One Ring.

The dwarves begin to lose hope, believing that they will stay as prisoners and never complete their quest. “We’re never gonna reach the mountain, are we?” Once the coast is clear, Bilbo shows himself once again, replying “not stuck in here, you’re not”. He frees the group of dwarves using a key that he had stolen. In order to help them escape, Bilbo finds old wine barrels for the dwarves and they all sneak away by floating down the river in the barrels.

This creative scene in The Hobbit was filmed at the Pelorus River in Marlborough. Fans of the series can make their way to the very filming location by kayaking down the river, or just spot the area from the shore of the Pelorus River Bridge Scenic Reserve. You can get pretty close by car or hike and kayak right up to the spot.

The party finds the Hidden Bay scene in The Hobbit

Tongariro National Park

After finally reaching their destination, the company of dwarves and Bilbo begin searching for the entrance into the Lonely Mountain. We know that the party is running out of time since autumn is approaching. If they fail to find the hidden door and the entrance to the mountain before, then their journey will have been for nothing.

As the sun sets and their chance of finding the entrance diminishes, the dwarves begin to give up hope. “The last light of Durin’s Day… Will shine upon the keyhole.” The sun eventually sets and the dwarves get ready to leave, when Bilbo figures out the riddle. He understands that the last light was not from the sun, but it is the moonlight that will unlock the door. Thanks to the hobbit they find the entrance into the mountain and Bilbo makes his way down to meet the dragon Smaug.

If you want to see where The Hobbit film scene was shot you can make your way to Turoa in the Tongariro National Park. It is now a popular skiing area and if you want to you can ride the slopes down Mt Ruapehu. It is also a great place for biking or taking a hike to where the entrance to the Lonely Mountain in The Hobbit was.

Smaug destroys Lake Town scene in The Hobbit

Lake Pukaki in Canterbury

After Bilbo steals a golden cup from Smaug, the dragon is not very happy. He is angry that he has been disturbed and that his treasure has been stolen, and so he flies from the Lonely Mountain and approaches Lake Town. Knowing that these people had helped his enemies, he decides to punish them by destroying their village.

After breathing fire on their village the people of Lake Town quickly lose their homes. As they scramble to evacuate we see Bard escape from his prison and he is the last of all the archers to stand his ground against the dragon. As everyone else runs away Bard keeps firing arrows at the beast, but they only bounce off. His son climbs the tower to his post and gives him a special arrow which he uses to finally kill the dragon. The people of Lake Town rejoice, although now they have nowhere to live. “Word will spread. Before long… every soul in Middle-earth will know… the dragon is dead!”

This scene and all of the others taking place at Lake Town were shot at Lake Pukaki in Canterbury, which is found on the southern side of New Zealand. This was the perfect place for the scene, with stunning blue waters and the silhouette of the mountains in the distance. Make sure that you come and visit it if you ever find yourself in New Zealand.

Gandalf escorts Bilbo home scene in The Hobbit

Lake Mistletoe Walking Track

In the final scenes of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, the journey comes to an end. They had just won the Battle of the Five Armies, although not everyone had made it out alive. One of the most touching deaths was Thorin, who died after winning the fight against Azog.

Bilbo was knocked unconscious but awakens to see the result of the battle, and makes his peace with Thorin as he passes away. The battle against Beorn and the orcs comes to a conclusion and after a long and exhausting adventure, Gandalf and Bilbo make the peaceful journey back to the Shire.

We see them walking through a beautiful green meadow and the two friends say goodbye. Gandalf leaves Bilbo there but not before warning him about the One Ring, which he knows that Bilbo possesses. “You don’t really suppose, do you, that all your adventures and escapes… were managed by mere luck? Magic rings should not be used lightly, Bilbo.”

This scene then transitions into the beginning of the Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring scene where Gandalf once again meets Bilbo in the Shire for his 111th birthday party. The Hobbit filming location used for this scene where Bilbo and Gandalf part ways was shot at the Te Anau Downs area in New Zealand. The location is beautiful and surrounded by a stunning landscape, so take a nice walk around the Lake Mistletoe Walking Track and imagine that you were there with Bilbo and Gandalf after their adventure.

Conclusion

These movies received just as much praise and love from fans as the Lord of the Rings films, and it is clear how much effort The Hobbit production team put into filming and cinematography. New Zealand remained as the only filming location for both trilogies and it is a gorgeous country filled with natural beauty. Since all of the scenes were filmed here you can easily stop by many of them in one trip. If you ever get a chance to visit, you should make your own walking tour to see all of The Hobbit locations listed above.