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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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