Globetrotters usually go to the hottest destinations of each year or the craziest and most colourful festivals. Primarily, travel is about the scenic landscapes and seascapes as well as immersing oneself in ancient cultures and traditions. However for those who fancy some of the greatest pop culture masterpieces in recent history, travelling is not just seeing the world but going far beyond it.
Born in Middle Earth, studied in Hogwarts, travelled around Narnia, and fought in the game of thrones—fanatics didn't just read these books and watched them on the big screens but have invested almost a decade (and counting) of their lives in these epic sagas. If you are one of them, this travel list will take you to the worlds you've dreamed of visiting. As J.R.R. Tolkien once wrote, "the road goes ever on and on" so we've rounded up some of the film locations of Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter, and Game of Thrones.
Matamata, New Zealand
In the Waikato town of Matamata sits the quaint and cosy little town of Hobbiton. Created in the early 2000s to serve as exterior film locations of The Lord of the Rings, tourists are welcome to walk around the grassy hillsides of The Shire as the film set was preserved as a popular travel destination.
Nelson Lakes National Park, New Zealand
If you're wondering where the rings of power were made, it was the great elf-smith Celebrimbor and his team of craftsmen under the tutelage of Sauron. When he found out that Sauron deceived them and forged a master ring, they revolted and he made the three powerful rings of the elves to match the "One Ring that would rule them all". Quite a story, isn't it? But actually it was Jens Hansen in Nelson, New Zealand who created 40 different rings for the production with replicas available for sale.
Besides being the home of the real ringmaker, the Chetwood Forest's lush greenery served as perfect location for the Flight to the Ford scene. To best see its grandeur, hop on a helicopter and ask the pilot to show you the region's three national parks: Abel Tasman, Nelson Lakes, and Kahurangi.
Mount Sunday, Christchurch - Canterbury, New Zealand
Ride out in the vast lands of Rohan with the prestigious Rohirrim here at Christchurch, located in the region of Canterbury. Mount Sunday was the location of Rohan, however the film set was destroyed after the filming of The Return of the King. Its scenic landscape and the panoramic view of ice capped mountains (yes, that's the Misty Mountains right there) make Mount Sunday worth visiting to.
Fiordland, New Zealand
The great river of Anduin which gives life to Middle Earth was made impossible by the picturesque Waiau River between Te Anau and Manapouri in Fiordland. In this picture, you can remember in the movie that it is where the Fellowship while in their boat ride in Anduin were welcomed by the towering Argonath—statues of Isildur and his father Elendil—marking the border of Gondor.
Cathedral Cove, Coromandel, New Zealand
Cair Paravel is not a world away but actually found in New Zealand as well like the film locations of The Lord of the Rings movies. The Cathedral Cove in Coromandel is a popular beach destination near Auckland. The region sits on a narrow stretch of pohutukawa-lined coves, one of which suited perfectly for the role. Travellers may enjoy different water sports at the gulf and other recreational activities in its lush rainforested hills.
Flock Hill, New Zealand
High in the southern alps of the South Island is an area of tortured rocks and dramatic valleys known as Flock Hill. It was here that director Andrew Adamson created the scenes for the great battle for Narnia. Flock Hill is 90 minutes from Christchurch on the Arthur's Pass Highway to Greymouth. Leaving Christchurch, the South Island's largest city, the road crosses the flat expanse of the Canterbury Plains through the small towns of Darfield and Sheffield. Activities tourists may do here include abseiling, rock climbing, tramping and canyoning. In winter, there is skiing and snowboarding at the nearby Broken River, Craigieburn, Mt Cheeseman, Porter Heights and Temple Basin ski fields.
Elephant Rocks, New Zealand
The journey in the world of Narnia will not be complete without going to Aslan's Camp. Known as Elephant Rocks, these limestone formations are sights to behold as they do not only resemble elephants but also contain a number of fossils of marine life from millions of years ago. Near the area is the historic town of Oamaru where you can see limestone Victorian era buildingsas well as the blue penguin colony near Oamaru Harbour.
Paradise, Glenorchy, New Zealand
The third South Island site chosen for filming was Paradise, a privately-owned horse ranch about an hour's drive from Queenstown. "There were a couple of locations that were perfect for this movie that only New Zealand could offer," producer Mark Johnson said. "In many ways, it is a fairytale country with the kind of locations that make your jaw drop."
King's Cross Station, United Kingdom
If you fancy the mystical wardrobe that opens its doors to the world of Narnia, what more with the secret platform that brings you to the Hogwarts Express? King's Cross station has been a popular destination for travellers in London and much more recently because of being referenced in the popular Harry Potter novels and films. For filming, platforms 4 and 5 were renumbered 9 and 10 and at the station today, you'll find the hidden access to platform 9 3/4, complete with half a luggage cart disappearing into the wall!
Leadenhall Market, United Kingdom
Every year, Hogwarts students buy their acedemic requirements at the Diagon Alley. Tourists do not need to spark a handful of floo powder to reach Ollivanders to get their wands as the Diagon Alley is just a three-minute walk away from the Monument tube station. Leadenhall Market, built in 1881, is London's most beautiful Victorian market and it served as exterior location (minus its glass roofs) for the famous alley.
Alnwick Castle, United Kingdom
Remember where Harry first had his flying class which ended up to his inclusion in the Gryffindor Quidditch team? Hogwarts castle's exteriors were first filmed at Alnwick Castle until it was rebuilt at the Warner Bros. Studios. Dress up like Hogwarts students and fly off with your broomstick at the lawn for a portrait worthy of being at the Grand Staircase.
New College, Oxford University
Complete the Hogwarts castle tour with a walk at the cloisters of the New College where some fun scenes from the film series were shot. Meanwhile, enter the Divinity School at the Bodleian Library to see the famous Infirmary of Madam Pomfrey was, or the Bodleian Library (just remember not to go to the Restricted Section as Professor Slughorn would be disappointed), and the Dining Hall of the Christ Church College to find out howwas the famous Great Hall was envisioned to appear onscreen.
Compared to the previous three, the Game of Thrones television series were shot on various locations around the world. Starting off with King's Landing, walk through the streets of Dubrovnik and be amazed with the orange-tiled roofed structures, the iconic walls by the Adriatic Sea, and cobble-stoned streets where Cersei of House Lannister, First of Her Name... (and so on and so forth) had her famous Walk of Atonement.
Scenes of Winterfell and the northern region beyond The Wall were shot from Iceland. One of the must-see places in this country was the location of the cave where Ygritte and Jon Snow spent a romantic night together in the midst of a snowstorm. This particular cave near Lake Myvatn houses a thermal spring open for tourists who want to bathe, as well as magnificent stalagmites and stalactites.
Alcazar, Seville, Spain
The Sunspear Castle, also known as Alcazar of Seville, is a royal house built by Moorish Muslim kings in the 11th Century and was used as film setting for the official residence of House Martell. It was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987 as being one of the finest examples of mudejar architecture—a mix of Muslim and Christian elements—evident in its dominant geometrical character and intricate tiles.
Castle of Zafra, Guadalajara, Spain
Game of Thrones fans debated over the origins of Jon Snow for many years until it was all revealed in the two recent seasons. This gave all glimpses of the past when Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark were secretly in the Tower of Joy until it was raided by Ned Stark, Ser Arthur Dayne, and the others. The 12th Century castle in Campillo de Dueñas in Guadalajara served as film location for this pivotal scene.
Dark Hedges, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
The King's Road is long and sometimes treacherous but it was also made to appear magically mysterious in the television adaptation by using the Dark Hedges in Northern Ireland as its location. This hauntingly beautiful road filled with beech trees with twisted branches is one of the most photographed places in Northern Ireland even before Game of Thrones aired.
The continent of Essos was similar to Arabian and African topography. For the cities of Pentos and Astapor, scenes were shot at the World Heritage Site Ourazazate City. Meanwhile, the fortified village of Ait Benhaddou (in the photo), another World Heritage Site, and the city of Marrakesh was used to portray the city of Yunkai. Its houses built with Moroccan clay architecture is a sight to behold.
Castillo de Almodovar del Rio, Cordoba, Spain
The kingdom of Highgarden, which sits at the crossings of the Seven Kingdoms, is known for the flower gardens that surround its hills. Surprisingly, the Castillo de Almodovar del Rio in the Andalusian province of Cordoba fits perfectly in the description. Tourists may wander in its towers, dungeons, and take a look at its collection of weapons.
BONUS: Skellig Island, Ireland
The previous four series we've mentioned take us to different magical worlds but there is another epic saga, which has been sweeping off our feet for many decades now, that bring us to galaxies far, far away. Star Wars recently started releasing the sequel of its first trilogy from the '80s, which made us wonder what happened to our hero, Luke Skywalker. Apparently, Luke was at an island and somehow left the Resistance.
Skellig Island, in the southwestern tip of Ireland, was used as location for this pivotal scene before Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens closes. It has been declared as a World Heritage Site for being a well-preserved early Christian monastery of about 1400 years old. With its spiritual origins and Luke's pursuits of mastering The Force, it fitted perfectly as location for the much-anticipated return of Mark Hamill in the big screen.