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The Traveller's Magazine
  •   2 min read

If there are two people New Zealand needs to thank for its renewed tourism industry it’s J.R.R. Tolkien and Peter Jackson. The stories and images from the Lord of the Rings trilogy books and films have inspired countless travellers to discover the heart of Middle-earth. What better day to read Tolkien and dream about that next trip to NZ?

Tolkien Reading Day is an annual event on March 25th that sees libraries, schools and book clubs around the world picking up J. R. R. Tolkien’s books again. But what about re-reading your favourite Tolkien book in the place that’s become known as the real Middle-earth, New Zealand.

‘It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered, full of darkness and danger they were. Sometimes you didn’t want to know the end, because how could the end be happy. How could the world go back to the way it was when there’s so much bad that had happened? But in the end it’s only a passing thing, this shadow; even darkness must pass.’ – Samwise Gamgee

Where to read Tolkien in New Zealand

Matamata – The Shire and Hobbiton movie set is a lush dairy farm turned into the peaceful Shire of Middle-earth. Take a seat outside a hobbit home or underneath a nearby tree.

Wellington – Just a short walk from the city centre in Wellington is Mount Victoria, a forested and mountainous area that depicted Hobbiton Woods. Kaitoke Regional Park, which was used for filming Rivendell, is also a great place to read. The scenery will certainly bring the stories to life in front of you.

Glenorchy – At the northern end of Lake Wakatipu, Glenorchy is a small village with great views of Mount Earnslaw which was featured in the opening sequence of The Two Towers. Nearby is also Lothlorien, a beech forest on the road to Paradise. On a rainy day, one of Glenorchy’s village pubs or cafes is the perfect place to tuck into a book.


Edoras – Mount Sunday in the Ashburton District was at one time the setting for the city of the Rohan people. There’s nothing left of the set now, despite it taking 9 months to build for the filming but the setting is a powerful one. Park your Christchurch car hire on Hakatere Potts Road and walk to the site, book in hand, for an afternoon of reading.

How did it came about?

Tolkien Reading Day hasn’t been around forever. It was only in 2002 when the Tolkien Society received a letter from a New York journalist asking if there was a day informally devoted to reading Tolkien’s works. In fact there wasn’t at the time but the Society got thinking and decided March 25th would officially become “Tolkien Reading Day.”


Love Tolkien? Take a trip and visit Tolkien’s stomping ground.

Imgs: oh_darling, kewl, jeff hitchcock, florin / Flickr cc.

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