Tongariro National Park is home to Mt Doom, Mordor and Emyn Muil and some of New Zealand's most incredible scenery. The region is extremely popular for its skiing and for the world-class trout fishing on the vast Lake Taupo. The Park is a World Heritage site comprising three spectacular peaks including the highest mountain in the North Island, Mt Ruapehu. When you look around it will immediately become obvious why the volcanic rock formations, barren hills and eerie, ash landscapes of the Tongariro National Park were chosen for the setting for the home of Lord Sauron and many sinister scenes in the movie.
The Rangipo Desert was the backdrop to the armies of orcs in the storming of the Black Gate while the stunning symmetrical cone of Mt Ngauruhoe was digitally crafted to create Mt Doom itself, the place where the one ring was forged and ultimately destroyed! Despite the movie's fiery depiction, the last time Mt Ngauruhoe actually erupted was in 1975. The summit of Ngauruhoe is sacred to Maori so filming it directly wasn't permitted - which is why special effects were used to alter the peak in wide-angled shots.
Mt Ruapehu is the setting for the treacherous labyrinth of cliffs and ravines of Emyn Muil where Sam and Frodo realise they are lost. You may also recognise the River and Falls as the Ithilien River, carving its way through the native forest where Gollum catches his fish. On the opposite slopes of Mt Ruapehu was the setting for Hidden Bay, the entrance to the Lonely Mountain in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Giant scaffolding was brought in to protect the indigenous plants and wildlife while the filming was carried out.
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