Lord of the Rings Locations, Gondor AKA Twizel

Actually, Gondor is my favourite Lord of the Rings location and not because this is where I guide tours. As an artist I love the landscape here with the golden tussock grasslands used by film crew for many of the dramatic horse charges filmed in the Return of the King. This area is one of the flattest in New Zealand with around 200,000 hectares of alluvial outwash plains formed after the last ice age. Known locally as the Mackenzie Basin, the plains are completely surrounded by the mountains which lead up to the snow capped Southern Alps and Mount Cook. Going out to the location you cross one of the man made hydro canals filled with the amazing turquoise glacial waters from Lakes Tekapo and Pukaki so this is a place you want to bring your camera.

Each season brings a different light to the land, hoar frost crystallize the grasslands and leave fences looking like modern glass art and in winter the nearby snow capped mountains illustrate why they were used to represent the White Mountains between Rohan and Gondor. Occasionally, inversion cloud blankets the area reminiscent of conditions during parts of King Theoden’s speech or dark clouds above the mountains give the brooding impression that Sauron is not far away. Bright sunny days (we only get an average of 66 days of rain a year here) showcase our cerulean blue skies with the gold grasslands. No matter what the weather conditions, you will have a great time and go home with a lot of fun photos.

On location you can get a number of photos that can be directly compared to different scenes in the Lord of the Rings (about eight scenes). The planning and logistics for this location were phenomenal, with 1500 people on set for the biggest day of filming. There were age restrictions on those who could take part as actors and extras with several hundred horses involved making this some of the most challenging and potentially dangerous filming.

This location is on a private farm and access is restricted to avoid any accidental damage to the farm and stress to farm animals, so if you want to see the landscape as it is seen in the movies a tour is your only option and there are a few choices. You can visit nearby but even the guidebook for Lord of the Rings locations does not show a photo of the actual site.

Do have look at some of the photos I and others have taken on the Lord of the Rings location of Gondor.



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OneRing Tours
C/O Mackenzie Country Inn,
Corner Of Ostler & Wairepo Streets,
Twizel, New Zealand

Tel (NZ): 0800 213 868 or
Tel: +643 4350 073

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