Journey Beyond the Screen

Fangorn Forest

New Zealand: The Lord of the RingsFangorn Forest

Location

The Mavora Lakes Road provides access to the remote area around the Mavora Lakes. After a 30 minute drive on a well-maintained gravel road, the prevalent farmland starts to give way to swaths of golden tussock and dark stands of beech forest. The whole area feels like an ancient landscape and once you park the car and walk up to the edge of the forest, you are truly standing in Middle Earth.

When we visited the location in March 2017, we found that fans had recently payed homage to their beloved movie.

When we visited the location in March 2017, we found that fans had recently payed homage to their beloved movie.

Key Scenes

Merry and Pippin have been captured by Saruman's Uruk-hai orcs. Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli have been following their tracks across the plains of Rohan for days, when they encounter a massive mound of burnt orc bodies.

The marauding orcs were killed by elven warriors. The elves piled the dead bodies and burnt them, piercing one head onto a spike as a warning.

The marauding orcs were killed by elven warriors. The elves piled the dead bodies and burnt them, piercing one head onto a spike as a warning.

At first, Aragorn and his two companions fear that Merry and Pippin might be amongst the bodies, but Aragorn quickly realises that the two hobbits managed to escape. Being an excellent tracker, he follows their footsteps across the churned-up ground.

Aragorn realises that Merry and Pippin managed to escape...

Aragorn realises that Merry and Pippin managed to escape...

...into the mysterious Fangorn Forest.

...into the mysterious Fangorn Forest.

The three friends enter Fangorn Forest but the hobbits's footprints disappear amongst the thick forest carpet. However, this is when Gandalf the White enters the scene. He reassures them that the hobbits are safe and that there are more pressing things to address. Gandalf leads Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli out of the forest.

Then he stops at the edge of the forest and whistles.

Then he stops at the edge of the forest and whistles.

Seconds later, a whinny echoes through the valley, and a majestic white horse appears between the golden hills. Legolas: "This is one of the Mearas."

Gandalf greets the horse like an old friend: "Shadowfax. The Lord of all horses."

Gandalf greets the horse like an old friend: "Shadowfax. The Lord of all horses."

Videos

Map

From the main highway between Te Anau and Mossburn, you can either turn into the Mavora Lakes Road (closer to Te Anau) or Centre Hill Road (closer to Mossburn). Both of these roads will merge into Mavora Lakes Road after a 20 to 25 minute drive.

Follow the Mavora Lakes Road for another 20 to 25 minutes. About 600 metres before the junction of Mavora Lakes Road and Mount Nicholas Road, there is a gate on your left. Park you car, jump the fence and walk up to the hilltop towards the edge of the forest.

You will find the filming area at S45° 19' 57" / W168° 10' 24" or -45.3325 / -168.173333.

Tips

The Mavora Lakes Road also connects to Mount Nicholas Road, an impossibly scenic 4WD drive through sweeping alpine valleys all the way to the southern shore of Lake Wakatipu. The road ends at the estate of Walter Peak Station, both a working sheep farm and a popular tourist hot spot.

At Walter Peak Station, you can indulge in a superb buffet-style lunch (or dinner) and watch an entertaining sheep-shearing show. You think it sounds tacky? It's actually not, as you can read here.  

At Walter Peak Station, you can indulge in a superb buffet-style lunch (or dinner) and watch an entertaining sheep-shearing show. You think it sounds tacky? It's actually not, as you can read here.  

99% of the station's visitors take the historic steamer TSS Earnslaw across the lake from Queenstown, so traffic on the road should be fairly thin.

 

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