Although the area is better known for the Waitomo Caves and glow worms, the Mangaotaki Valley near Piopio also featured in The Hobbit where it became the location for Staddle Farm and Trollshaw Forest. Southwest of Te Kuiti on the western side of the North Island, the farmland is backed by the dramatic sheer cliffs of the Mangaotaki Rocks. They tower more than 300 feet above the valley, carved into fantastic formations over millions of years of weathering.
These amazing limestone cliffs form the foothills for the movie's Misty Mountains and feature clearly as the spectacular backdrop to the Warg chase scene. This is also the area where Bilbo outwits three mountain trolls and gets his first look at his new sword, Sting. Staddle Farm is the abandoned farmhouse at Trollshaw where the brave band camps for the night. There is no longer a farmhouse - it was dismantled after the filming ended. However, the same dilapidated old fence remains among the rocks to help pick out where it once stood and bring the scenes to life.
A forest walk will take you into the Trollshaw Forest where Radagast first meets up with the group. It's easy to imagine you can hear the Wargs howl in the distance, readying for an attack. Apart from the fascination with it being the film's location, you'll appreciate the beauty and wildness of the site itself. The forest is primaeval with looming tree ferns and strangely shaped limestone boulders. It will be a magical experience for true fans and an authentic taste of both Middle-earth and rural New Zealand.
Check out the other Lord of the Rings (LOTR) film locations:
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