Traveling With the Oscars

by Matthew Link

The Flicks: Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001–2003)

Oscar Nods: Winner of 17 Oscars in all, including Best Picture for The Return of the King

The Setting: New Zealand (standing in for Middle-earth)

Fantasyland: Those plucky New Zealanders cashed in big-time with Lord of the Rings, which spawned a cottage industry when moviegoers wanted to see for themselves the majestic locations showcased by director Peter Jackson—to the point where the tourism board set up an entire website devoted to LOTR trips. Fortunately, most of the sites can be visited without threat of attack by Orcs or Ringwraiths: Mount Ngauruhoe, for instance, the volcano that stood in for the dreaded Mount Doom, is part of the otherwordly moonscape of Tongariro National Park on the North Island. But instead of creepy Gollum and that horrifying spider, you'll find a rugged terrain perfect for skiing, hiking, and river-rafting, plus the Bayview Chateau Tongariro, a lavish neo-Georgian hotel dating to 1929. On the South Island, the LOTR cast and crew stayed in Queenstown while filming at dozens of nearby locations in the Southern Alps. It's a pristine region where you can enjoy skiing, hiking, riding a magical white horse with your robes flowing behind you, and defying death in any number of crazy Kiwi ways. Orlando Bloom reportedly enjoyed his share of skydiving and bungee jumping while here. If your appetite for adventure is more hobbit-sized, opt for a kayak or jetboat up the nearby Dart River, where Frodo traveled by canoe. Or rent a luxury private stone-and-beechwood villa at Azur—with drop-dead views of Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables Range—and kick back, Bilbo Baggins–style.

Tongariro National Park
Tel: 64 7 892 3729

Bayview Chateau Tongariro
Tel: 64 7 892 3809
Doubles from $130

Azur
Tel: 64 3 409 0588
Doubles from $918

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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