Exclusive Access with Pure Glenorchy

It’s not every day you get the chance to venture into a world you’ve only ever seen on a TV screen. We’ve all dreamt what it would be like to walk through the wardrobe to Narnia or spend the day exploring the Lothlorien Forest. Pure Glenorchy has taken this dream and turned it into reality.

Since 2005, Pure Glenorchy has been operating tours that showcase some of the most unique and famous movie locations within the Southern Lakes Region. They’re the only company with exclusive access to various filming locations, including The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, X-men Originals: Wolverine and The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. Many of which were filmed in Paradise. Literally.

Paradise represents every sense of the word with its remote location, breathtaking scenery and refreshing serenity. It wins the heart of all its visitors, including Sir Ian McKellen, who declared it as ‘Perhaps, his favourite place on earth’. The film industry has successfully shared the beauty of Paradise, making it a popular tourist destination that attracts movie buffs from around the world. Deep in Paradise is where you’ll find Arcadia Station, the gateway to some of the most renowned movie scenes in history.

Arcadia Station

This privately-owned 257ha high country station is a New Zealand treasure that has been locked away from the public for over 22 years. Arcadia Station has made an international name for itself because of its stunning scenery. The natural creation of snow-topped mountains, rolling valleys, beech forest, and pristine lakes & rivers make the station an idyllic backdrop for countless fantasy worlds. Pure Glenorchy is the only tour company ever to have access to this magical location, making their experience the most unique in the region.

Around 17 major film productions were shot here, including The Chronicles of Narnia, X Men Originals: Wolverine and The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. Pure Glenorchy is the only company with exclusive access to the filming locations on Arcadia Station, giving you VIP access to explore all your favourite film sets and get behind-the-scenes insight into some of these great films.

The Narnia Chronicles

In The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Arcadia station was used as the fairytale country setting. The station’s mountain backdrop was the perfect mythical landscape to bring the fantasy world of Narnia to life. Director Andrew Adamson grew up in New Zealand. He once said, “In many ways, it is a fairytale country with the kind of locations that make your jaw drop”. So, he used his homeland and created a series of movie masterpieces that showcase the best of this beautiful country.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

For all your Marvel lovers out there, Arcadia Station was also the filming location for the critically acclaimed X-Men Origins: Wolverine movie. After Logan/Wolverine undergoes the experimental procedure to fuse adamantium to his skeleton, he escapes the facility and goes on the run. Through a paddock… Butt Naked… This iconic scene was shot at Arcadia Station. (You’re welcome world).

The producers used the station as Hudson Farm in the movie’s story. They constructed a small farmhouse onset and then blew it up with explosives to capture the shot of Stryker’s forces shooting a rocket launcher at Logan. The production team only had one take for this action-packed scene, and boy, did they nail it!

Producers loved filming at Arcadia station because, unlike DOC (department of conservation) land, the station was privately owned by Jim Veint, which meant fewer consents were needed to create these incredible sets and stunts. Environmental assessments were always carried out to ensure no harm would come to the land, but ultimately, producers had the freedom to bring their wild imaginations and fantasies to life right here in Paradise.

Pure Glenorchy’s Scenic Film Location Tour is a great way to explore Arcadia Station and visit various other film sites seen in Mission Impossible, One Lane Bridge, Top of the Lake, Willow and more. The team are also trusted Lord of the Rings experts, so it comes as no surprise that their Lord of the Rings Scenic Tour is rated #1. Their half-day tour will have you bypassing the ‘You Shall Not Pass’ private land signs and journeying deep into Middle Earth. You’ll be picked up right outside your Queenstown or Glenorchy accommodation and taken on a magic-doused adventure. Here are just a few of the iconic LOTR locations you may encounter.

The Lord of The Rings

Ithilien Camp

Just a short fifteen-minute drive from Queenstown near the shores of Lake Wakatipu, you’ll find Ithilien Camp. Otherwise known as Twelve-Mile Delta. This beautiful campsite was the filming location for multiple scenes in LOTR: The Two Towers.

Twelve-Mile Delta is a remote area scattered with native bush and a beautiful mountain backdrop. Frodo, Sam, and Gollum set up camp here in the film to rest and cook the Cony Stew and bear witness to the war between Faramir’s Rangers of Gondor and the men of Harad.

The campsite itself is open year-round for campers and explorers to stay. While there may not be a full-blown battle to join, there are some stunning swimming spots and nature walks to do during your stay. Further down the road is the picturesque town of Glenorchy, the next film location


Glenorchy is known for its pristine lakes, towering mountain ranges and stunning landscapes. The Dart Valley, in particular, was Peter Jacksons filming location of choice as the backdrop for the iron fortress of Isengard and is seen when Gandalf rides his horse to meet Saruman, the White Wizard.

The Isengard lookout has gorgeous views of Mount Earnslaw and is a great spot to stop and take some Insta worthy photos. The journey then continues once the pictures are taken, and the guides have finished sharing their behind-the-scenes production knowledge.

Lothlorien Forest

The ancient forest of Lothlorien can be found alongside the Glenorchy-Paradise Road in a secluded forest area. Filled with giant beech trees and green pine wilderness as far as the eye can see, it was the perfect spot to film the entrance into the Lothlorien Forest.

On Pure Glenorchy’s Queenstown LOTR tour, you’ll get the opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the enchanted Kingdom of the Elves by dressing up and reenacting your favourite movie scenes. Select your costume from a variety of capes, cloaks, crowns, and elf ears, and sword fight your friends and foes in this fantasy forest.

Beorn’s House

Going back 60 years before The Lord of the Rings, another adventure took place in Middle Earth in The Hobbit Trilogy. Sir Peter Jackson returned to Paradise to film The Hobbit and recreate the fantasy world among New Zealand’s mystical landscapes.

One of the most intricate and detailed sets created was the house of Beorn, where Bilbo and the team take refuge in the film. The house was made of stacked stones and intricately carved wood, surrounded by mountains and nature. It was a sanctuary, and the film crew portrayed it perfectly. Mikael Persbrant himself even said, ‘the location of Beorn’s house is one of the most beautiful sets I have ever seen’.

Pure Glenorchy is lucky enough to have a private picnic table sitting on the exact spot the set was built. Guests can soak in the surroundings and visualise the enchanting world of Middle Earth, just as Peter had years ago.

The one thing that the Southern Lakes Region has above all else is its awe-inspiring scenery. Filmmakers, tourists, and locals come to visit places like Queenstown, Glenorchy and Paradise, because it feels like an escape into a different world. A place that you only see in movies. And that’s exactly why owners Joel Lamason & Kate Cruickshank created Pure Glenorchy. To leave guests with the same sense of awe they felt the first time they experienced the wonder of these locations.

R Waugh, Tripadvisor

Talking to the guides Joel and Kate about the area, watching the dress up and having sword fights was my favourite part and the views were awesome – brilliant tour!!!! Would have given it 7 stars if I could – thanks for the great time.

Miranda, Australia

“Fantastic tour! Our guide picked us up from our hotel and made us feel at home immediately, James is a very entertaining guy full of heaps of info, enjoyed every moment with him. The tour and scenery is breathtaking it makes you remember parts of the movie and you can picture the scenes right where you’re standing. Dressing up in the costumes was great fun. Thank you James for a wonderful tour and for being a great host!”

Michael, TripAdvisor

“Well worth the time. Our guides were well versed in the geography of the Lord of the Rings and were able to put what we saw into context. The natural beauty seen on the trip was an added bonus. 5 stars!”

Mary, Sydney

“Thank you for taking our little group of six on an adventure. Being Lord of the Ring’s enthusiasts it was wonderful being part of where a lot of the scenes took place. As soon as I get home I am watching it again just knowing I was there. Loved getting dressed as Gandalf. Thank you for helping me personally as it was a little difficult for me to get around.”

mnovasel, TripAdvisor

“Booked last minute with my partner and we had a GREAT time! Very knowledgable on LOTR and New Zealand landscape, culture etc. I recommend taking this tour even if you are not a huge LOTR fan since it is a smaller group, but the guides can answer any questions you have, so be ready to nerd out if you want to 🙂 ”

Aapen, India

“Queenstown based tours are more heavenly than one can imagine. On the way to Glenorchy we come across the million dollar scene of the mountains and the blue water lake. You can spend a whole day photographing in Glenorchy. As we go to explore the various spots where Lord of the Rings was shot you get to reach Paradise too, a truely remarkable spot aptly named so. Overall experience was excellent.”

Kent, Ohio

“We had Ben as our guide and he was wonderful. He was full of enthusiasm and took some great pictures of us. It was nice to take a small group tour and get a lesson on plants and we also enjoyed dressing up. We had great weather and Ben was very knowledgeable. We would definitely recommend people to take this tour even if you are not a fan of the LOTR. Thank you for the great tour!”

7 Day Ultimate Package

This Ultimate Package gives you the best small group tours and activities of the region with the convenience of being based in central Queenstown.

Every day is filled with amazing activities and packs in the most you can see in seven days. With great savings and the convenience of booking everything in one place, this is the ultimate week-long Queenstown Holiday.

Package Details

Duration:7 days / 6 nights
Accommodation:Ramada Hotel Central Queenstown
Inclusions:Central Queenstown hotel, breakfast, Milford Sound tour, Wine tour, Glenorchy and Lord of the Rings tour, Craft beer tour, Scenic flight, Arrowtown and Wanaka tour and hotel transfers.
Price:From $2185 PP Twin Share, add $990 for single supplement


Your Daily Itinerary

Day 1: Transfers from Queenstown Airport to Ramada Central Queenstown hotel.

Day 2: Join a 6-hour small group tour to Arrowtown, Cardrona and Wanaka.

Day 3: Join a small group tour to Milford Sound including cruise and picnic lunch.

Day 4: Free time in the morning to enjoy Queenstown then in the afternoon join a small group Craft beer tour. (options for non-beer drinkers)

Day 5: Take a scenic flight over Earnslaw Burn and glaciers, then join an afternoon 4-hour small group tour to Glenorchy, Paradise and Lord of the Rings locations.

Day 6: Free time in morning to do optional activities then in the afternoon take the Wine Hopper to the Gibbston Valley for wine tasting. (options for the non-wine drinkers) All wine tasting fees and food purchases are at your own cost

Day 7: Transfer from your hotel to Queenstown Airport.

As each tour is run by different operators the schedule can be changed to suit availability or weather. Optional extras also available.

Private Charter Enquiry

Date must be at least 48 hours in the future. For last minute bookings please call to enquire.

3 Most Photographed Lord of the Rings Locations

Visiting the key LOTR locations is on the bucket list of every Lord of the Rings fan.

Our top 3 most photographed and requested Lord of the Rings Locations from Queenstown to Glenorchy area are:

Isengard Lookout

Set in the majestic Dart Valley, located just north of the quaint township of Glenorchy lies this impressive location. The Dart Valley was used as the backdrop for the dramatic Wizards Vale.

Insengard itself is set in front of a craggy mountain range that seems to create a weather pattern of its own. Clouds and mist roll in without warning, creating a mystical yet sometimes imposing atmosphere. Peter Jackson chose this location for its untamed beauty and it depicts the sheer power that Isengard brings to us on the big screen. This region of the Dart valley is simply stunning.

Lothlorien Forest

Entering Mt Aspiring National park the first thing you notice is the incredible light. Golden hues that exaggerate the various shades of green created from the ancient Beech trees amongst other  unique flora.  In his novels ,Tolkien describes Lothlorien as a golden forest, ethereal and enchanted. The Elves originally fell in love with this golden forest and made homes in the boughs of the trees.  You too will fall in love with the magic and illusion that is created in this piece of Paradise.

The Paradise Valley is an absolute favourite location of the cast members of LOTR, this area is truly middle earth. It is easy to see why this area is known locally as Paradise.


Located at Twelve Mile Delta, just 20 minutes from vibrant Queenstown, we enter a diverse landscape of Manuka trees as well as  spindly Matagouri shrubs  bordering a Crystal blue stream.

This was the memorable scene of the battle between the Rangers of Gondor and the men of Harad.

Revisit the spot where Sam, Smeagal and Frodo lay in anticipation as they witness the appearance of the Oliphants . A 5m high scaffolding was used to create the space where Peter Jackson would go on to digitally impose the Oliphants, the part mammoth part elephant beasts, that enthralled the hobbits.

12 Mile Delta is also the location used in the scene where Sam and Smeagal debate the best way to cook the famous cooneys. “boil em, mash them stick them in a stew”…

This location transports you back in time to the excitement of this very recognised scene.

Take a step into several scenes by foot and relive the magic of the film and experience a knowledgeable journey of the films and the scenery that binds the epic LOTR trilogy together.

Breathtaking Middle Earth scenery from Queenstown to Paradise, Glenorchy.

A Journey to Middle Earth or Paradise, Glenorchy from Queenstown is a sensory overload and a photographers dream.

The road to Middle Earth begins in Queenstown, meandering along the shores of Lake Wakatipu on the Queenstown to Glenorchy Road. A trip like this shouldn’t be rushed, this is where you slow down, take a deep breath and enjoy the experience.

The road follows the Deep blue shades of Lake Wakatipu whilst navigating through arches of beech tree canopies and undulating hills.

This is the Trail of Middle Earth for Lord of The Ring followers and also the road that will lead to the shores of the Dart River and the battle scenes from the Movie Narnia.  Many movies that have been filmed in the region around Glenorchy to Paradise.

Fascination has grown in this area since many well known films graced these shores, but even for those “non” movie fans the geography and landscape in this region is diverse and majestic.

As you leave Queenstown your first notable stop is 12 Mile Delta. This beautiful conservation area surrounded by native bushland and a river delta, was the scene for the Ithilien Camp in the Lord of The Rings trilogy.

Also the scene for the memorable “Cooking the Coneys” and “PO-TA-TOES”, stick em in a stew, with Sam and Gollum in a heated conversation on the best way to cook them! There are some short hikes in this region as well as longer half day trails if time allows.

The road zig zags along the stunning Lake Wakatipu and as you head towards Bennetts Bluff, the half way point between Queenstown and Glenorchy,  you will notice the diverse native flora, 80 per cent of which is endemic (found only in New Zealand).

Arguably the highlight of the road trip from Queenstown to Glenorchy is Bennets Bluff itself, which showcases New Zealand in all her staggering glory! The view looks to the top of the Headwaters of Lake Wakatipu and in the distance the gateway to Mt Aspiring National Park and Mt Earnslaw in the near background.

Lord of the Rings fans will be given the treat of their first glimpse of The Misty Mountains which is that of Mt Earnslaw. On the lower slopes of Mt Earnslaw, the “Earnslaw burn” was used for scenes of the company departing Rivendell to start their quest in an Unexpected Journey from the Hobbit films.

Pressing on to the quaint village of Glenorchy with a population of just under 300 occupants, you can see by the spectacular landscape why this area has also become a prime location for film scouts.

Glenorchy is also known for its iconic red boat shed on the shores of the Lake. Not only will a walk out onto the pier provide you with some postcard photographs but you will gain a history lesson of this popular location just by walking inside the shed itself.

The road to Paradise is bewitching, green fields, stock lazing around without a care in the world and Mt Aspiring National Park welcoming the traveller and photographer alike into her kingdom.

Many a film has graced this area and some of the more notable are ; “Vertical Limit” (2000), The Chronicles of Narnia;Prince Caspian (2008),Wolverine (2009) The Hobbit  (2012) and the backdrop for Saraman’s Tower or” Isengard” in Lord of The Rings (2001)

Those that would like to delve deeper into the area that is “Paradise”, there is horse riding or kayaking into the heart of this glacier country.

The magic of Paradise touches everyone that visits, and photographers, artists and travellers alike can enjoy the natural environment of this region.

Allow a full day in the least to explore this journey from Queenstown to Glenorchy and Paradise.

Meet Your Guide – Joel

Joel as GandalfMeet Joel: owner, operations and regularly the man behind the wheel guiding you on your journey to Paradise and LOTR country.

Character your most like: – Gandalf

Favourite LOTR Location– Little hard to choose, Paradise is great, the name says it all really!

Inspire us with a quote:

Gimli: “Oh, come on, we can take them!”
Aragorn: “It’s a long way.”
Gimli: “……toss me.”
Aragorn: “What?”
Gimli: “I can not jump the distance, you have to toss me…..oh, don’t tell the elf.”
Aragorn: “You have my word.”

You have to see it to believe it…

See you on tour soon!

Queenstown to Glenorchy – NZ’s most scenic highway

The Journey from stunning  Queenstown to Glenorchy or the “Gateway to Paradise” is one of the most scenic drives in the world.

Known fondly by locals as “The Queenstown to Glenorchy Highway”, this road is also  known  these days as part of the “Middle Earth Trail”, due to international exposure from the famous Lord of The Rings Trilogy.

Sir Peter Jackson put New Zealand on the map  after the success of these films, and now this region is the back drop for many current movie locations which increases the fascination of this area even more.

Leaving Queenstown the road winds along the skirts of the pristine Lake Wakatipu, which is nicknamed Wakatipu Blue because of the famous deep blue colour which can vary in shade to a mesmerising turquoise at times.

Driving through bursts of emerald beech forests and following along glassy bays and inlets you arrive at our first scenic spot of Twelve Mile Delta.

Run by the Dept of Conservation this camping ground is situated on a beautiful river delta surrounded by Mt Crichton and was a location for Ithilien in The Two Towers, Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

Photographers can capture a beautiful view looking towards the shores to both Cecil and Walter Peak.

As you meander further around the coastline, anticipation builds as Bennetts Bluff, a midway point between Queenstown and Glenorchy is reached. Offering exceptional views of the Southern Alps opening up to the top of the Lake, Mt Earnslaw Glacier in the distance and Mount Aspiring National Park, people are often gob-smacked at this majestic backdrop.

Lord of The Rings followers will now see The Greenstone planes used for the muster of the Rohirrumsoldiers in the Return of The King.

Looking toward the majestic Mt Earnslaw, a glacial mountain and its adjoining Mount Aspiring National Park you will be actually be looking in the direction of other movie locations such as Wolverine and the Hobbit as well as Narnia.

The road towards Glenorchy follows the course of the towering hills on one side and the Lake on the other. Passing by Pigeon Island and Pig Island you start to see the Top of the Headwater in the distance and the beginning of a braided river system.  Characteristically  a braided river system occurs  in streams that flow from the base of a glacier thus forming small channels, they are a rare ecosystem.

As you drive into the quaint village of Glenorchy, the one thing you notice is the uniqueness of some of the local housing. From tiny homes to dwellings that incorporate natural materials and elements, there are many homes that embody individuality.

Driving down to the alluring foreshore you might find a hive of activity at the iconic Glenorchy red boat shed.

The lady of the Lake, “The Earnslaw“, used to be a reliant source for freight and livestock to this destination ,however these days photographers and historians alike come to see this beautifully restored little shed so relevant  once upon a time for  the township itself.

Allow an hour or two to take in the scenery on this drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy, and of course set no time restraints to wander around the town itself enjoying the local ambience in this special part of the world.

No wonder this drive is featured in the top ten drives to do in New Zealand!

Stay & play like a local in Glenorchy, New Zealand

Glenorchy is a big draw-card for visitors from around the world. Some seek to stand in the same locations as they’ve seen in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies; while others have heard of its beauty from fellow travellers, so they make the drive up from Queenstown to check it out.

Here’s a few ideas on how to enjoy Glenorchy like a local:


Kiwis love camping! The Department of Conservation in New Zealand (DOC) works hard to provide wonderful sites for natural camping experiences. We recommend one of the following sites in the Glenorchy area:

  • Kinloch: a grassy strip beside the lake that fits about 15 tents. There is no booking system, so you just turn up and pay a small fee to DOC. There is no power so bring a torch, but there is a nearby toilet and you are able to use the showers at Kinloch Lodge next door (you can hire a towel from them too). Kinloch has a café/restaurant on site so you can turn your camping into ‘glamping’ and treat yourself to a gorgeous meal without having to do the dishes. If you feel like getting out on the lake, this is a great spot for kayaking and there are kayaks and canoes available for hire.
  • Lake Sylvan: a lot of people drive to Sylvan just to do the lake walk, which loops around to a lookout point. There is also a nice flat campsite which makes it possible for you to spend a few days fishing, (make sure you get a fishing license from the Glenorchy Information Centre) relaxing, or bush walking. You are also conveniently placed to do some more intensive day tramps.
  • Paradise: for a really unique stay deep in wild New Zealand, you can try out one of the huts or rustic cabins in Paradise. Paradise forest is an ancient protected place where you can truly enjoy peace, it is also the site chosen as “Lothlorien Forest” in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Hiking / Tramping

Glenorchy is the gateway to some of the most stunning walking tracks in New Zealand. The Routeburn track is one of the most famous, and you can either walk part of it as a day trip or take several days to walk right through to Milford Sound carrying your food and gear in with you. There are custom-built huts along the way for you to stay in and these are maintained by DOC who you must book and pay with before you go. The facilities are great, with bunkhouses, a kitchen, toilets and showers.

The other gorgeous walking tracks you can access from Glenorchy include the Greenstone/Caples Track, Rees/Dart Track. These tramps require a good level of fitness, and experienced trampers particularly love them.

Mountain Biking

Mountain biking is hugely popular amongst locals, and the area is not short of excellent bike tracks. A really beautiful option is the bike ride between Glenorchy and Paradise. In this case you are following the road so you need to be aware of traffic, but you’ll find there’s not a lot of it. Along the way you’ll pass the Glenorchy lagoon which was used as the Dead Marshes in Lord of the Rings. As you head out of town you’ll have farmland on either side of you, and mountains looming above you. You’ll be passing by Mt Alfred and Diamond Lake before winding your way deep into the Beech forest towards Paradise, crossing a few small fords and bridges along the way. Take a picnic in your backpack and remember to bring sunscreen, insect repellent (the sandflies are cute but they bite) and wet weather gear in case the weather changes.

Pure Glenorchy Lord of the Rings tours operate daily from Queenstown New Zealand, taking people to film locations in Glenorchy and Paradise, and treating them to a picnic in Mt Aspiring National Park. Give us a call, we’d love to show you around.

10 Top Lord of the Rings Places to visit in New Zealand

Queenstown New Zealand is a brilliant starting point if you want to experience New Zealand at its best, and it’s also a great beginning for passionate Lord of the Rings fans.

The film locations are spread from the top of the North Island to the bottom of the South Island with various ways to explore and experience them from jetboating to helicopter flights and horse treks.  Relive the magic of the LOTR films with a local tour to get all the insights and behind the scenes knowledge.

South Island New Zealand LOTR locations

Beginning in the adventure capital of New Zealand:

  1. Queenstown LOTR sites*: Pillars of the Kings, Ford of Bruinen, Dimrill Dale, River Anduin
  2. Glenorchy LOTR sites* : Amon Hen, Ithilien, Isengard, Lothlorien, Misty Mountains
  3. Te Anau LOTR sites : Fangorn Forest, edge of Rivendell
  4. Wanaka LOTR sites: South of Rivendell, Misty Mountains
  5. Mt Cook LOTR sites: Edoras, Erewhon, Pelennor Fields
  6. Nelson LOTR sites: Dimrill Dale, South of Rivendell. Nelson also boasts being home to the creator of the “One Ring”
  7. Blenheim LOTR sites: Film sets available for viewing at Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre

North Island New Zealand LOTR locations:

  1. Wellington LOTR sites: Isengard, Rivendell, and the WETA workshop. Visit the WETA Cave to pay homage to movie memorabilia
  2. Waitomo Caves The Hobbit sites: Staddle farm, Trollshaw forest
  3. Matamata LOTR sites: The Shire – Hobbiton

*Travel the Glenorcy road to Paradise with Pure Glenorchy Lord of the Rings Scenic Tours and experience the locals insights and legends from the filming of the trilogy.

Arcadia the house that was built from a broken heart

When Joseph Fenn’s fiancee was stolen away by his own father in the early 1900’s, he fled to New Zealand to escape his pain, where he was once again to find himself unlucky in love.

Fenn was a young wealthy Englishman, champion oarsman and Cambridge university graduate. Devastated and humiliated by his father’s actions, he left his friends and family behind. He settled and isolated himself, ironically in a place called ‘Paradise’ – about an hour’s drive from Queenstown New Zealand.

He arrived in New Zealand with enough money to buy land and live comfortably for the rest of his life. Though many letters arrived for him from England it is said that he never opened any of them. He bought a plot of land and lived in a small hut close to the Jordan River.

Just along the road from him was Paradise House – guest accommodation run by the Aitken family. Fenn reportedly fell in love with the Aitken’s daughter Isabella, nicknamed Poppy. When Poppy turned down the advances of her would-be suitor he reacted by building Arcadia – an incredible guest house built using local Red Beech timber. Fenn poured his money into the project, lavishly creating 12 bedrooms, a vast staircase, a library and smoking room, several lounge and dining rooms, tiled bathrooms, and oriental styled wallpapers.

It was widely thought that Fenn had built Arcadia to show Poppy what she had missed out on. He never lived in it. Employing managers to run Arcadia, Fenn stayed in his humble cottage and became even more of a recluse. Dubbed ‘The Hermit of Paradise,’ all that remains of his cottage today is a broken chimney.

For more stories and legends from the Paradise/Glenorchy District, come out on tour with us, we’d love to show you around 🙂

Great excitement for locals when The Lord of the Rings filming took place!

I still remember the buzz in the air and trying out to be an extra in the Lord of the rings.  This took place at the Wakatipu High School Hall and there was a extremely long queue with locals all lining chatting away as we dreamed of becoming stars!!

Glenorchy’s  population was only 250 which doubled in size in 1999. Glenorchy swelled with actors, filmmakers and associated staff as movie director Peter Jackson came to town to shoot scenes for The Lord of The Rings.

Peter Jackson employed about 300 locals as extras, mainly starring as Orcs. Everyone was paid so well (earning about $200 per day) and it was such fun work, as you can imagine there was a few sick days had to free the locals from their normal job. Then the films were released, the local movie theatre had never been so busy with us all fixated on the big screen looking for our appearance and local locations.

At Pure Glenorchy Tours, we love to bring the local stories of the filming of The Lord of the Rings to life during, and our guests never tire of hearing them. For more information, or to join us on a scenic Lord of the Rings tour, visit our website www.pureglenorchy.com 

Glenorchy, New Zealand – a dream movie location

Glenorchy is a sought after tourist destination and movie location.  If you travel down New Zealand’s most scenic highway your reach Glenorchy, a tiny fairytale town which surrounding areas have stunning scenery and varied landscapes.

Local movie company- Film Queenstown says: “This region offers a complete turnkey package – just bring your storyboard; more than 120 locally based crew honed their skills here, working with the best directors.”

It is well known that Glenorchy and its surrounding areas features extensively in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films. Also Peter Jackson filmed the set Beorn’s House from The Hobbit.

Many others have been filmed in the area including X-Men Origins: Wolverine :a superhero film, based on the Marvel Comics‘ fictional character WolverineThe Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian : an epic fantasy film based on Prince Caspian, the fourth chronological novel in C. S. Lewis’s epic fantasy series.

The 2013 television mini-series Top of the Lake was also filmed in the area and was set in and around Paradise

Hundreds of enthusiastic locals from Queenstown and Glenorchy have actively taken part in many of these films as movie extras. At Pure Glenorchy Tours we can proudly boast a family member who appeared as an extra in one of the Top of the Lake pub scenes…15 seconds of fame pulled out to be replayed at every opportunity; and also several friends who donned Orc outfits or displayed their horse-riding skills as the Riders of Rohan in the Lord of the Rings !

As film enthusiasts ourselves, it is always a pleasure to show off the Glenorchy/Paradise region and point out its film locations to our guests. Their awe at the idyllic landscape and the other-worldly feel of this special part of New Zealand is obvious, and they can see for themselves why this is such a great place to make movies. For more information on our Scenic Lord of the Rings tours, check us out at www.pureglenorchy.com.

The King of Cult – 3 Other Movies By Peter Jackson Filmed in NZ

Lord of the Rings wasn’t the only movie Peter Jackson produced in New Zealand. Have you ever heard of Meet the Feebles, Bad Taste and Braindead, cult classics?

New Zealand movie director, producer and writer Sir Peter Jackson received international recognition for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. While these movies built on his earlier film successes and drew attention to New Zealand’s spectacular scenery and abundance of filming locations – his true personality bursts from the early movies he wrote and filmed in New Zealand in his 20’s and 30’s.

Bad Taste Movie

In his twenties with just a tiny budget, Jackson enlisted his friends to help him produce Bad Taste, a movie that spans many genres, including horror, comedy and sci-fi. Everybody got stuck in as actors or helping out on set, with Jackson working as a jack of all trades, directing, acting, using home-made special effects and doing the make-up himself. It took four years to finish the film, and the result is a wacky, sinister and way over the top blood fest. Made in fun, Jackson was soon convinced to enter it into film festivals, no doubt a little surprised when it won an audience award at the 1989 Fantafestival. Bad Taste went on to become the first of Jackson’s quirky cult classics.

Meet The Feebles

In 1989 Jackson released the crazy black-comedy puppet musical (!)  Meet the Feebles, which sees some pretty corrupt puppets/characters, in a stage troupe that feels a bit like “meet the evil Muppets”. This bizarre film was a failure commercially but found itself a cult following over time.


In 1992 Jackson wrote and directed what might be considered the third in a trilogy of “out there” movies, called Braindead (it is called Dead Alive in North America for some reason). A hilarious zombie splatter bomb, Braindead was actually praised by critics, and though it “failed” financially when it came out, it became a cult movie too.

When The Lord of the Rings trilogy garnered amazing success (plus the added Peter Jackson charm of a cult following), it caused a revival of interest in Bad Taste, Meet the Feebles and Braindead ironically bringing these films commercial success after all.