Lord of the Rings

Mount Doom and the Land of Mordor.

In autumn 2000, Tongariro National Park was home to the most sinister of the Lord of the Rings locations, Mordor, which is the strong hold of the Dark Lord Sauron. Mordor is the great volcanic plateau filled with geological wonders known as Gorgoroth. Much of Frodo and Sam's journey into the land of Sauron was filmed in and around the Tongariro National Park.

The area has jagged volcanic rock formations and eerie barren landscapes, ideally suited to Mordor's hissing wasteland. The most famous feature of all is the fiery volcano of Mt Doom, a digitally altered Mt Ngauruhoe. Many visitors travel far and wide just to get close to the source of the Ring. Three other locations on the nearby slopes of Mt Ruapehu was chosen to depict a number of other scenes from Mordor.

Although the rocky landscape of the Tongariro National Park appears extensively in the movie, the summits of the volcanoes were not filmed out of respect for the wishes of the Maori people of the Central North Island to whom the peaks are sacred.

To really immerse yourself in Mordor and feel the eerie barren landscape, trek the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. The following are features of Tongariro National Park that were captured in the filming of scenes from the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Mt Ngauruhoe aka Mt Doom


Mt Ngauruhoe
Mt Ngauruhoe was digitally altered to appear as the sinister fiery volcano of Mt Doom, the centre of Frodo’s quest to save Middle-Earth. This was the place the ring was forged by the Dark Lord Sauron and the only place it can be destroyed. There are no orcs here nor do fires burn in Mt Ngauruhoe today.

The volcano is still very much alive, with its last eruption in 1975. For the time being, the mountain is sleeping. Climbers with suitable mountaineering gear and experience can trek to the summit of Mt Ngauruhoe as a side trip option on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.

Iwikau Village, Whakapapa Ski Area

The maze of razor-sharp rocks, cliffs and ravines of Emyn Muil is located behind Aorangi Lodge. Whakapapa Ski Area is also where Isildur cuts off Sauron's finger and with it the ring. With jagged volcanic rock, steep bluffs and ash, little imagination is required to visualise Mordor.

Mangawhero River, Ohakune Mountain Road

The dramatic scenes of Gollum catching a fish.

Mangawhero Falls 

Ithilien Camp was filmed near Mangawhero Falls.

Tukino Ski Area 
Mordor/Door of Sammath Naur slopes of Mt Doom Barren Waste Lands Sea of Boulders.

Rangipo Desert 

The Rangipo Desert provided the backdrop for the storming of the Black Gate when Gimliuttered his famous line “Certainty of death, small chance of success.. What are we waiting for?”

The Hobbit


The Hobbit

In the summer of 2011-2012 scenes were filmed for The Hobbit triology alongside the Mangawhero River, below Turoa Ski Area and on farm land with scattered beech forest around Ohakune.

The three films, subtitled An Unexpected Journey, The Desolation of Smaug and The Battle of the Five Armies productions of New Line Cinema and MGM, with New Line managing production. Warner Bros Pictures handles world-wide theatrical distribution with select international territories. All international television licensing is handled by MGM.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was released on 14 December 2012. The second film, The Hobbit: There and Back Again was released the following year on 13 December 2013 and the third film The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies will be released in December 2014.