Want to step into the world of The Hobbit?
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New Zealand’s eye-watering landscape is back on the big screen – and to whet your appetite for some long distance travel, four more Desolation of Smaug filming locations have been unveiled. Tourism New Zealand has unveiled the new filming locations for visitors looking to experience the reality of Middle Earth. In the North Island, the mountains of Turoa are in the spotlight as ‘Hidden Bay, whilst the South Island was used for three new filming locations – the Pelorus River in Marlborough as ‘Forest River’; Lake Pukaki in the surrounds of Mount Cook as ‘Lake Town’ and Paradise near Queenstown for ‘Beorn’s House’. Visitors to newzealand.com can now also explore the new locations on a new interactive ‘flight through Middle Earth’. REALITY: Pelorus River, Marlborough, South Island FANTASY: Forest River Pelorus River, half way between Blenheim and Nelson in the north of the South Island, is the setting for ‘Forest River’ in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Sir Peter Jackson chose the setting for the ‘dwarves escaping in barrels scene’, with its solid rock shoreline surrounded by forest with a sandy beach for the barrels to come ashore. What the stars say: The four-day shoot at Pelorus River was a highlight for Stephen Hunter (Bombur): “My favourite day on set – unquestionably – was floating down the Pelorus River in barrels … way cool, and if they ever make it a ride… life time pass please.” Experience the Reality? Visitors can swap barrels for kayaks on a guided kayak tour down the river, which includes stops at waterfalls, streams and the filming location itself, with the opportunity to camp overnight in the lush native forest just 100 metres from where the filming took place. Activity Idea: Pelorus Eco Adventures offers river canoe trips through the filming locations in inflatable tandem canoes. From $85 per person for a 3 ½ hour journey. www.kayak-newzealand.com REALITY: Turoa, Ohakune, North Island FANTASY: Hidden Bay, Lonely Mountain Turoa - a popular ski area high on the flanks of the active volcano Mount Ruhapehu - is embedded in a Dual World Heritage Site in the North Island’s great Central Plateau. Sir Peter Jackson chose this rugged terrain to depict Hidden Bay – the entrance to The Lonely Mountain in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and the watchful eyes of the giant craggy bust of Thror. What the stars say: Martin Freeman (Bilbo in The Hobbit Trilogy) described the central North Island region as his favourite location: “It is beautiful. There is a mountain, there is a waterfall, there’s a beautiful view across the valley there. It’s one of the sort of archetypal Kiwi places that you thank god New Zealand has such amazing landscapes.” Experience the Reality: The North Island’s main driving route passes directly through this region and Tongariro National Park is a year-round tourist destination. Take in the scenery on the spectacular 19.4km Tongariro Alpine Crossing, one of New Zealand’s nine Great Walks, or choose two wheels and hit two of the great rides in the New Zealand Cycle Trail Network – Nga Haerenga including the Mountains to Sea Cycle Trail, which uses a combination of local mountain biking trails, public roads and a jetboat to take riders the 317km from the central volcanic plateau to the sea in Whanganui. Activity idea: Mt Ruapehu offers Scenic Chairlift Rides, riding over Mt Ruapehu’s volcanic terrain to an altitiude of 2020 metres above sea level. Once there visitors can take in the views of the Tongariro National Park, Mt Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe. Scenic Chairlift Rides packages start from NZ $30 per adult. www.mtruapehu.com/summer/chairlift-rides
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