Cromwell, located in the valley of the Upper Clutha River is ideally situated to access both Central Otago and the Southern Lakes regions. Just out of Cromwell, near the small farming village of Tarras, production crews descended on the banks of the immense Clutha River for a month of filming. Here they recorded some of the scenes where the Black Riders pursue Frodo across vast golden-brown plains and the flight through pine trees to the Ford of Bruinen, Ringwraiths in hot pusuit. It's easy to see why they chose this undeveloped landscape dotted only with a few trees and providing perfect uninterrupted views to the mountains beyond.
West of Cromwell are the beautiful bare hills and rocky spurs of the Rough Ridge Range in the Ida Valley which portray part of the realm of Rohan. Here, the Poolburn Reservoir was transformed into a little fishing village burned by marauding Orcs. The stark beauty of the dam amongst the twisted, carved forms of naturally eroded stony pillars is a magical sight. Nearby is the Leaf Brooch Canyon - when the hobbit Pippin is captured by Orcs he intentionally drops his elven brooch, leaving a sign for his friends that will help them follow his trail. The canyon is found in an arid, boulder strewn landscape and instantly recognisable.
The picturesque Wanaka region and lakeside town to the east of Cromwell provided numerous stunning film locations including the River Anduin, Golden Plain, Lothlorien, Pillars of the Argonath and Dimrill Dale. From the town itself you can look up across the lake to the mountainous backdrop seen in Gandalf's flight on the great eagle, Gwaihir. Up the valley, on the road to Queenstown is one of New Zealand's oldest and most iconic pubs. Actually called the Cardrona Hotel, the interior was used as inspiration for the Prancing Pony, the Inn in the small town of Bree.
Experience Middle-earth for yourself. View our Lord of the Rings Tours.