You couldn't get a better base for taking in great eyefuls of New Zealand's grand alpine landscapes. Twizel lies in the heart of the McKenzie Basin, a vast alpine basin used extensively for scenes involving the Rohan plains. Twizel is also a wonderful place to spend some time studying the stars with some of the darkest skies you can find. You'll be amazed by the thousands of stars that can be seen in this Southern Hemisphere sky thanks to the clear air and lack of light pollution in this region. Part of the Warg's chase was filmed here as well as the epic Battle of the Pelennor Fields.
Set in a remote grassy field, Tolkien's Pelennor Fields lay just outside the city of Minas Tirith above the river Anduin. Fertile land, the fields were home to farmers, orchardists and herdsmen until the day of the pivotal battle. Tens of thousands of Sauron's orcs clashed with the men of Gondor and all was thought to be lost until the riders of Rohan arrived to join the battle. King Theoden's charge drove the Mordor forces from the field, and eventually, with aid from other reinforcements, the battle turned in favour of the company. The working sheep station also provided the wide grassy plains of Rohan in The Return of the King and the Eastemnet Gullies.
Beyond these tussocked plains is Aoraki/Mt Cook, New Zealand's highest mountain and the namesake to a National Park encompassing many magnificent alpine peaks and glaciers. The area was used as the spectacular mountainous backdrop to some of the scenes in An Unexpected Journey as well as the stunning opening scenes of The Two Towers. Short walks will take you into a true Middle-earth of fast flowing rivers, glacier lakes with floating icebergs, gnarled and windswept vegetation and sheer snow-covered mountain ranges.
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