Kaitoke Regional Park, located a 40-minute drive from Wellington, contains a treat for fans of Lord of the Rings. It is part of a region known as Pakuratahi, at the head of the valley of Te Awakairangi, Heretaunga, also known as the Hutt River. The park also served as the set for Rivendell, hidden refuge of the elves, in the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings trilogy.
The park was opened in 1983, as part of a plan that established a number of regional parks in the Wellington region. A plot of land owned by the Wellington Regional Water Board was expanded with the purchase of land from a logging company.
Filming for Rivendell and the Fords of Isen took place in the park. It contains the locations where Elrond says farewell to the Fellowship of the Ring, where Frodo looks out from the balcony during his recovery after being stabbed by a Nazgul blade, and where the iconic kiss between Aragorn and Arwen took place, among other recognizable moments.
All buildings, walkways, and other structures were removed after filming was complete, but a half size replica of the archway was recreated so that visiting fans can imagine what the original would have looked like and take photographs. Likewise, visitors will not see the autumnal fallen leaves from the films, regardless of the season, because they were brought in by the truckload specifically in order to remain true to Tolkien’s vision.
Visitors will find helpful signs that point out the exact location of each scene as well as a map that details where each structure was located, including walkways, towers, and Elrond’s house. There are a number of Lord of the Rings-themed guided tours that include Rivendell as one of their locations, but the site is just as enjoyable and accessible to visit solo.
Know Before You Go
The park is open from 6 a.m. to dusk. Entry is free.