As you may know, Peter Jackson filmed the Lord of the Rings trilogy entirely on location in New Zealand.
The fantastical landscapes of the country played a pivotal role in making Tolkien’s work come alive on the big screen.
Taking its queues from this cinematic masterpiece, all on-location filming for the Rings of Power took place in New Zealand.
Like the Lord of the Rings, the crew for the Rings of Power also relied mostly on building practical sets.
The trailers and the first few episodes of the series already feature some breathtaking scenery. Below, we’ll look at some real-world locations bringing the Rings of Power to life.
Where Is The Rings of Power Filmed?
The Rings of Power was filmed exclusively in New Zealand across the South and North Islands. Filming mostly took place on New Zealand’s North Island in two big film studios, Kumeu Film Studios and Auckland Film Studios.
Filming started in February 2020 and wrapped up in July 2021. Soon after filming began, it was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic but resumed in March 2020.
Coromandel Peninsula, Waikato region, North Island
The Coromandel Peninsula, known as Te Tara-o-te-Ika-o-Māui in Maori, is one of the largest peninsulas in New Zealand. It’s located on the northwest of the North Island across the Firth of Thames from New Zealand’s most populous city, Auckland.
The Coromandel Peninsula is home to natural attractions that make it one of New Zealand’s most popular holiday destinations. One example is the magical and highly photogenic Cathedral Cove, a gravity-defying natural archway.
The peninsula consists mainly of rolling green hills containing primeval forests with unique fauna and flora.
The relatively wild and unspoiled nature of the peninsula makes it a perfect backdrop for the fantasy world of Middle Earth.
Also read: Galadriel vs Sauron: Who Was More Powerful?
Denize Bluffs, Mangaotaki Valley, North Island
Also situated on the North Island, the Denize Bluffs is situated in the Mangaotaki Valley close to the city of Hamilton in the Waikato region. The area is popular for its unusual rock formations and dense, rich forests.
It’s not the first time that the Denize Bluffs will feature in the Lord of the Rings universe. It played home to Hobbiton in the Peter Jackson films with many tours and the Trollshaw Forest.
In the Rings of Power, the Denize Bluffs feature as the territory of the Harfoots, one of the ancestor tribes of the “modern-day” Hobbits we know. The entire Hobbiton set built for the movies is still located close by, offering immersive tours of the life-like Hobbit town.
Piha Beaches, Auckland region, North Island
The small, seaside town of Piha is located just 45 minutes west of Auckland. It’s a popular surfing spot that stands out for its black sand beaches framed by rugged in-land cliffs.
In the Rings of Power, Galadriel and Halbrand end up stranded on these beaches after their ship becomes waylaid by the Sundering.
While it only features once in the series, it’s an unforgettable location that makes the fantastical nature of Middle Earth feel real.
Kahurangi National Park, Tasman Region, South Island
Kahurangi National Park is the second-largest park in New Zealand, covering an area of over 4,500 km². It’s located right on the northernmost tip of the South Island in a relatively unspoiled part of the country.
Kahurangi is a haven for outdoor adventurers with plenty of opportunities for hiking, caving, and rafting. The dense, lush, and unique vegetation also offers an otherworldly experience for nature lovers.
As a result, Kahurangi was wisely chosen as the primary shooting location for Rhovanion. Also called the Wildlands, it’s an area in the north of Middle-Earth that encompasses Lorien, Mirkwood, and Erebor.
Fjordland National Park, Te Wāhipounamu region, South Island
Fjordland National Park is the largest in New Zealand, covering an area of 12,607 km² in the southwest of New Zealand’s South Island. It’s best known for its glacier-carved fjords, for which the national park is named.
Fjordland National Park really contains some of the dramatic and awe-inspiring scenery we’ve come to expect from Middle Earth. For example, the lonely waterfall cascading down from one of the high-mountain lakes or the glassy surface of the Doubtful and Milford Sound lakes that perfectly reflects the surrounding mountain caps.
The shores of the lake Te Anau, next to the nearby town of Manapouri, is the setting for the river Anduin.
Mount Kidd, Fjordland National Park, South Island
Mount Kidd forms part of the above-mentioned Fjordland National Park but deserves a special mention of its own. It’s an imposing Fjordland mountain peak with an elevation of as high as 11,000 ft.
Filming on top of the mountain was extremely treacherous and painstakingly slow. The area regularly experiences severe weather, and the only way to reach the filming location was via helicopter.
However, it’s definitely worth it as the scenes shot on Mount Kidd are some of the most spectacular throughout the series. The snow-capped peak, high-mountain lake, and picturesque surroundings make for jaw-dropping scenery.
Otago, South Island
Otago is a large region in the southeastern part of New Zealand’s South Island. It’s a beautiful and diverse landscape, popular for its vast, rolling green landscapes.
Peter Jackson’s films used a number of locations in Otago. For example, the Rock and Pillar Range is instantly recognizable as the plains of Rohan, while Glenorchy features in several scenes in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.
We will have to wait and see how Otago will fit into the Rings of Power. However, some speculate that it will appear in scenes for Eregion or Enedwaith.
The Rings of Power Season 2 Will Be Filmed in the UK
Rings of Power showrunners have confirmed that on-location filming for Season 2 will take place exclusively in the UK, instead of New Zealand. Cast and crew expect filming for the Rings of Power Season 2 to start in October 2022.
Amazon provisionally greenlit the Rings of Power for five seasons with a projected budget of $1 billion. However, season 2 was already confirmed in 2019 before season 1 started filming.
This is the first time any “Lord of the Rings” franchise project will film outside New Zealand. Bray Film Studios, Hemel Hempstead, Berkshire, and Bovingdon Airfield are some locations where filming will take place.
Some of these locations have played host to big-budget productions, like Justice League, Fast and the Furious 6, and Dracula.
What Is The Rings of Power Budget?
The first season of the Rings of Power reportedly cost Amazon $462 million, making it the most expensive series ever. Each of the series’ eight episodes cost roughly $57 million.
Amazon had to pay nearly $250 million in November 2017 just to secure the rights to Tolkien’s work. When considering all the marketing and promotional spending, some estimate that the Rings of Power cost upwards of $700 million.
The cost dwarfs HBO’s Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon, costing about $100 million per season. It’s even more expensive than the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy at “just” $281 million.
Stranger Things season 4 had a per-episode budget of $30 million, nearly half of a single Rings of Power episode.
Part of why The Rings of Power was able to film on-location in New Zealand is due to the massive budget. Like their predecessors that worked on the Lord of the Rings films, the crew was able to shoot in remote areas that are hard to access, like Mount Kidd.
Also read: 20 TV Shows Like The Rings of Power