They’re taking the hobbits to Isengard: Rohan, (AKA the Ida Valley, New Zealand)
They took the hobbits to Isengard. The question was, would we find WHERE they took the hobbits to Isengard from?
Anytime I’m going off on the road, I like to take on some side quests.
This comes from years of playing games like Fallout and Zelda and can range from simple things like finding the world’s biggest ball of twine (that’s in Cawker City Kansas, also near the geographical “center” of the lower 48 states) to more off-the-beaten path stuff like the original Joshua Tree from the U2 album cover (hint: it’s NOT in Joshua Tree National Park).
It’s usually not about the actual items – I’m not much of a U2 fan and I really don’t care about twine – it’s about the challenge of finding odd things that are outside my usual comfort zone. And anyway, if your only goal is to simply get from point A to point B, that’s a really poor use of the time you are given, isn’t it?
For our New Zealand trip, Ariel and I wanted to re-create the most famous of all Lord of the Rings memes. You know of what I speak…
The trouble is, finding the precise film location(s) proved highly elusive and it appeared, shockingly, that no one had successfully recreated even a portion of the scene anywhere on the internet. After sifting through endless home recreations in random locations, as well as images from people’s trips on organized tours, it became clear that no one had managed to find the place.
This only hardened my resolved more. Now I turned to my old friends at theonering.net which I had last been to about 20 years ago. They recommended I purchase the Lord of the Rings location guidebook from Amazon. This was a great move because it gave us all kinds of other cool locations – and allowed us to at least pinpoint the general area we needed to head to. This book is a must for any fan of the movies going to New Zealand.
This is really a must-have for anyone on a Lord of the Rings adventure in New Zealand.
But it still didn’t give us the specific location of that scene.
So I took the next logical step and reached out to some really awesome bloggers who had been in the area. One of which, Amanda from dangerous-business.com (which is where I learned about how awesome the Edoras location was) recommended I reach out to a tour operator. The other one, Rikka from Deviating the Norm actually tried to reach out to people she knew from the area.
No luck either way.
At last, I just started reaching out to local hotel/motel owners. They too were unsure, but finally someone pointed me in the direction of the actual landowners where the shots were filmed. I reached out to them and…paydirt! Sue Falconer, one of the landowners, not only knew the area but offered to take us there for a relatively small fee.
But still, my semi-OCD about the whole thing (this had now become a huge challenge that I was determined to overcome) was gnawing at me during the whole lead up to the trip so I tried reaching out to others in order to get some kind of secondary confirmation.
No one was able to guarantee anything and I’m sure everyone I asked thought I was completely nuts. Even on our tour of the Wellington film locations our guide (who himself was obsessed with showing us exact spots used in exact screen caps) didn’t seem too confident about anything. Worse, he painstakingly showed the tour how often multiple locations were used in creating certain shots, sometimes from locations hundreds of miles apart.
The morning of our tour arrived and Sue picked us up from where we were staying. Her confidence and encyclopedic knowledge about the movies and region in general was very encouraging right from the start. Still… this was literally our only chance at this and at this point it had nothing to do even with the movies… I just wanted to WIN.
As we crossed over onto her property though, that feeling quickly faded. The whole Ida Valley and specifically the Poolburn Reservoir/Bonspiel Station area is simply magic. More than anywhere else we went, the landscape is utterly fantastical. Nothing was changed for the movies, aside for a few road improvements and the removal of some fences. This was really Rohan, home of the horse lords, with the unique rocks sticking out of the ground in all kinds of crazy formations.
Like hundreds of other places in New Zealand, you don’t need to be a Lord of the Rings geek to appreciate the amazing landscape. Who cares about some stupid video clip when you’re surrounded by views like this? I mean, really.
And Sue proved to be an excellent guide. She took us to specific locations used in the filming and shared with us all kinds of interesting stories, not just about the movies, but about life in the Ida Valley in general. It was really cool.
It also didn’t take long for her to deliver on her confidence. One of our first stops was one of the exact spots where Legolas uses his “elf eyes” to see.
There was no doubt about it – we were there. This is where they freakin’ took the hobbits to Isengard.
The other locations in the clip were really just random rocks on the property, so we just picked a few that looked like them and did the rest there. Here’s the finished product:
Sue also took us into a few other shooting locations, which were maybe even cooler. We went to the canyon where Pippin drops his leaf pin and Aragorn does his whole “listening to the rock” routine. We did some more videos there, with Sue’s help.
Finally we went out to the Poolburn reservoir itself for another cool movie location. This was also precisely as it looked in the movies and a beautiful place in and of itself. Of course by this point it was starting to rain so it was time to pack it in for the day and move on.
In the end, I was really happy with the day and the tour itself. We ended up being with Sue for over two hours and she was really cool, taking pictures and video of us even without us needing to ask. She also knows EVERYTHING about the region. She also apparently got questions from every tour guide and hotel/motel operator in the neighborhood about the location… since everyone I asked had to ask her… since it’s her property…
Well whatever, at least I can save you the trouble if you’re going to the neighborhood without a tour and want to find this most elusive of meme locations.
Side quest: COMPLETED.
And while it didn’t help us find the place they took the hobbits to Isengard…the Lord of the Rings location guidebook did help us find tons of other really awesome places. Must-buy for anyone going to New Zealand who has ever seen the movies.
UPDATE (3/5/2023): Amazingly this post keeps getting more and more traffic lately, and I’ve been reliably informed that the owner of the property’s name is actually SUE not SHARON. Everything else is still right, and in reviewing my notes (from 6 years ago!!) I believe that I somehow wrote her name down wrong after meeting with her, but yes it is definitely Sue (and her daughter Sarah) that we interacted with! Hope she still remembers us, and if anyone speaks to her, please apologize to her for all the people we’ve sent over years who have been asking for “Sharon” lol oops!!
91 thoughts on “They’re taking the hobbits to Isengard: Rohan, (AKA the Ida Valley, New Zealand)”
YOU DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You WON! I am so incredibly delighted by this, you have NO IDEA!
I have linked to your post from mine. And now I am certain that you are at LEAST as nerdy as I am. Those videos are hilarious – I love it!
WELL DONE! And now I have to go back there….!!
Thanks so much Rikka! I was going to reach out to you and let you know we managed to do it but the site is still in sort of a “beta” phase so I was going to tinker with it a bit more before really going public. But seeing your reaction, I’m glad you saw it now! Yeah, it was really exciting to get to the place, especially when it was so up in the air based on what I was seeing online beforehand. Thanks so much for your help with everything, there’s still so much to to write about our New Zealand trip. Being back means lots of other “distractions” though (AKA real life responsibilities) so it is slow going.
absolutely amazing! Me and my friend have just arrived in NZ from UK to do a big tour so excited for this and just wondered if you have co ordinates where sharon took you on the tour?
Again well done and if not then i guess we will have to go adventuring too!
Hey Robert, thanks so much for your comments! So I don’t have the coordinates and anyway it’s on private land so you would need to speak to the property owner. I’d be happy to put you in touch with the landowners if you’re interested in arranging a tour. I’m sure they’d be happy to take you around like they did for us! And at a very reasonable price too.
Hey, I’m actually living in Queenstown at the moment and would love to arrange for a tour. Any chance you could put me in touch with the land owners? Thanks!!
Definitely can! Drop me a line at (deleted to cut spam)@hotmail.com and I’ll connect you with the people who did our tour for us!
my husband and I just got back in April and this was one of the location I wasn’t able to find! We are heading back in February and I would love to get in contact with Sharon to schedule a tour!
Hey! I’m actually living in Queenstown and would love to visit those locations. Do you think you could put me in touch with the land owner so that I can arrange a tour? Thanks and nice work finding it!
Hey! My husband and I went to New Zealand back in April and hit up so many of the Lord of the Rings film locations but this is one of the ones we missed. Since we are going back in February, I would love to get in contact with Sharon to arrange a tour! Thank you so much for finding this!
Gah, I just saw this now. Please drop me a line at (deleted to reduce spam)@hotmail.com and I’ll send you Sharon’s contact information.
This was definitely a tough place to find and is absolutely inaccessible without talking to the land owners or going on a tour. Really happy to share our experience and help some fellow Tolkien fans find their way!
We are some people from Sweden also wanting to take the hobbits to Isengard <3.
This would be the perfect place to visit and please can you help out finding the land owners contact? 🙂
We are just about to visit our first locations on the south island tomorrow.
Really nice read and I'm so happy you found it! 😀
Hey Dennis! Glad to hear you are making your trip. Is the email address in your comment accurate? If so, I’ll send you the contact information for the woman who did our tour for us!
Hi..I stumbled across Rikka’s and then your blogs during my research of LOTR sites for my Feb 2020 trip to New Zealand I am currently planning. I would love it if you could provide contact information for Sharon and cost of her tour so I can see the sites on the private land. Thank you so much
Sure thing Karen! Is the email address on you account (I think it’s an AOL address?) active? If so I’ll email you her contact information!
Hi there, on your tour did Sharon show you the rock formation Aragorn and Legolas stood on (that sweeping shot which Aragorn says “Rohan, home of the horse lords, there’s something strange at work here”)?
Heading to Middle Earth again next summer and I’ve made it my quest to find every location the man and the elf stood on lol.
It’d be great if you can throw in Sharon’s contact too! Thanks a million
Hey Melissa! Check your email (hoping the one you used to post the comment is accurate if not let me know) for Sharon’s contact info.
I think you’re referring to this scene, yeah?
So the first part of the scene where the Uruk-Hai run through the canyon 100% you will see since that is (unbelievably!) on her property.
Same deal for the rock Aragorn listens to the rock and where Legolas and Gimli start running (it’s just on the end of the canyon from earlier).
The sweeping shots of them running along the ridge – that I don’t know.
THEN they pick up the leaf – which we recreated ourselves – also back at the same canyon, some videographic trickery makes it look like it’s a different place. But if you look closely you can see it’s the same location just different angles and different rocks.
THEN we come to the part I believe you are looking for. That sweeping shot – I believe – is the same as the area used for the actual “taking the hobbits to Isengard!” clip. That is BASICALLY where we did our recreation in the YouTube video above. If you want to really nail the specific geo location it’s going to be tough (I think the rock I’m standing on in my picture is in the right general vicinity but the mountains look a little closer in the clip so probably need to go a little deeper into the valley), but maybe you could try to better line up screen capture images with where you are actually standing than we did. Sharon was really cool about trying to get us to exactly where we wanted to go – and she also knows every inch of her property. Not to mention, she’s the person filming us in a bunch of our clips. She also has stories and can show you all kinds of cool stuff about places the cast spent time. And just in case you forget any of the lines, she has all the lines that were recorded on her property printed. She was really really great.
There is also the unfortunate possibility that some of the clip was NOT filmed on her property. Some of those scenes were done nearby. Worse yet (which made this all the more annoying in my initial research), Peter Jackson had a habit of filming the same scene in locations hundreds of miles apart. The boats down the Anduin scene in LOTR, for example, was literally shot partially on the North Island and partially on the South Island.
However, if you watch the films with commentary, all of these initial Rohan scenes were filmed around Poolburn Dam. So you’ll be there, you may just not be EXACTLY there.
Thanks a million for your awesome comment. I’ll be sure to do the lining up of screenshots, sounds just like the kind of nerdy geeky research I love. Will let ya know how the communication with Sharon goes and when I get to the home of the horselords!
Happy to help! Let me know also if you’re planning on going anywhere else. If you’re a big Rohan fan I highly recommend going to Mount Sunday, AKA Edoras:
It’s not really close to Poolburn, but not THAT far either.
Please check back in and let me know how it goes. Thanks again for stopping by!
Hi liran !
I’m going to NZ in November. I’ll be staying 10 days arround Queenstown. And I would like to visit this locations that Sharon took you )
Can you send me her contacts? )
My email is (i’ll write it separately so the filter don’t delete it)
first part : nuriko34counter
second part: @gmail.com
Oh man! I just saw this now! I’ll email you the contact info immediately! Please let me know how it goes. I’ve sent a few people Sharon’s way over the past couple of years and I really hope she is still going strong with this.
Seeing these places is exactly what I want to on my trip to New Zealand. I’m coming from Ireland in January and was wondering whether to stay overnight in the area, or do a day trip from Queenstown (which I understand to be only 2 hours drive away?). Which would you recommend?
I’d really appreciate it if you could send me the contact details for Sharon Falconer. I found an old “Otago Tours” webpage that seemed to offer this as a tour but they’re not taking bookings anymore. It would be fantastic if I could arrange something with Sharon directly.
Please send it on to my @gmail.com account, the username being highfunctionfilms
Thanks for sharing your story,
Hey Jonathan! Glad to hear you’ll be chasing the hobbits to Isengard as well. I’ll send you the contact information via email shortly. As you read in my post, I can relate to your trouble finding this – I even found the same “Otago Tours” website you did! I eventually resorted to randomly emailing businesses there to see if they could point me in the right direction. They all sent me to Sharon!
In terms of going there from Queenstown – you probably could do that, although going back/forth will eat up a solid chunk of your day. Another thing to keep in mind, is that in NZ whatever the expected travel time is, you’re going to want to substantially increase it. Not sure if you’re from the USA or someone else where we drive on the right, but that alone is enough to slow you down if you’re not used to it. Aside from that, there are gravel roads on the way that Waze/Maps/etc. don’t calculate properly. And – most importantly – there are so many amazing things to see in NZ you’ll be stopping on the way (otherwise why even go there!).
I think Sharon has some lodgings on her property which we didn’t know about until AFTER we were there, so I can’t speak to whether they’re good/bad/in between. We stayed at a really nice place called Millfield Cottage (via Air BnB) and the owner was really nice and accommodating for us. There was also a bar/restaurant in town (I think there’s only one) where the food was actually excellent. I would recommend staying in the Ida Valley, which is beautiful and 100% evocative of Middle Earth. Queenstown is a great city, but if you’re going for an LOTR experience, the more time you can stay in the “Wilderland” the better IMHO.
Oh thanks for writing such a wonderful post and providing so much information from your trip! Came across your website whilst doing some LOTR location research for my upcoming NZ trip.
Would you kindly be able to provide me with Sharon Falconer e-mail please? Would love to get in touch with her.
many kind regards,
Sent via email as you requested! Thanks so much for your comment and for reading!
I would love help with finding my way around the locations. We are in Alexandra now and I only just found your text.
Sofia Gjertsson, 16 years
Happy to help! Check your email I send you the contact information!
Awesome ! You are a good detective! I’m a french traveller , actually in NZ, if you can send me the email adress for the same guided tour, It would be very cool!
My adress is lalouve27
Thanks a lot!
What a good detective to find this! Good job!
I’m a french traveller, actually in NZ, and I really want to do the same guided tour! Can you send me the email adress of Sharon?
Mine is : lalouve27
Happy to help! Sending now!
Amazing post! Great effort! Would love to see the Rocks where pippin drop the leaf.
If you have time could you send me the contacts of the owner? Morten.email@example.com
Sure thing Morten! Appreciate the feedback, and will send you contact info shortly!
Dude, you’re awesome! Such a great read. Would you be able to send me Sharon’s email? Mine is firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m living in NZ on a working holiday visa and hunting down all the LOTR locations. I will be close enough for a day trip from March 10 – April 7!
Done! And thanks! So happy that even three years later our hard work finding this place is paying off not just for us but for many others!
Hey ! Justin here, traveling to NZ in December and wondering if I could get Sharon’s information as well 🙂 You’re super helpful and getting me pumped for this trip ! Thank you ,
Thanks Justin! Sending you her info to your gmail account. Really hope everything is back to normal, or at least normal enough for you to be able to get there in December!
G’day! Contacted you through twitter due to this form not working. Wondering if Sharon’s contact details are still available. Also for GPS coordinates? Thanks, mate!
Hey thanks for reaching out – I had no idea my comments were disabled! I wasn’t at a computer when you found me on Twitter and didn’t want your request to get lost in the shuffle before I got to it. I hope other people didn’t miss out. Anyway I’ll email you the contact information for Sharon. Can’t really give GPS coordinates because it’s her private property so you’d need her to take you there anyway!
Oh – and nice work finding me on Twitter! Much respect for the effort!
Hey I’m a huge fan and was wondering if you could send me Sharon’s details.
So glad I found you. I got the location guide and everything and was bummed it wasn’t in there.
email is jssmith358
Thanks a bunch
Thank you Sariah! Sending you an email shortly!
Hey Liran! I tried to pass on Sharon’s email to a friend and I’ve totally lost it! Can’t find it anywhere. Would you mind sending it to me again? Harlipac@gmail.com
Hey Harli! Re-sent!
How did your trip end up working out? Did you get to the location?
Thanks a bunch! I had an amazing experience there, easily one of my favorites!
Hi Liran, I’ve just come across your wonderful blog and am blown away by your investigative film location finding skills!
I’d love to email you about a project I’m working on regarding film locations and film tourism, and get your thoughts!
Hopefully my email comes through in the next fields – let me know if it doesn’t!
Thanks Viv! Appreciate the compliment and already sent you an email!
Hi, a wonderful post that I thoroughly enjoyed, I’m currently in NZ and I would love to visit these locations, if you would be so kind and send me the contact details for Sharon it would be greatly appreciated. My email is email@example.com, Many thanks and all the best.
Email sent! Thank you for your kind words – glad you enjoyed the post!
Hi Tom and Liran – could I be so bold as to suggest the SetJetters film locations app – we’ve spoken to Liran and he’s one of our early adopters (and we’re working on features now to accommodate his content)… once Liran has helped you out, maybe you’d be interested in using it to help your journey. We’re in early stages and open to feedback !
Yes that’s true! Setjetters is really a cool app! You should definitely use it on your travels, as it was practically designed for this specific thing!
It’s been over a year since I took the trip, kind of forgot I wanted to write this comment, but thank you so much again for giving me the information I needed to contact the owner of the place, it was maybe the best thing I did in all of my New Zealand trip. Always wanted to see these locations but there is so little knowledge about it in the Internet for some reason. Thanks again <3 Morten
Thank you Morten! So glad to hear back from you and happy to have helped!
I’ve been desperately looking for this location any chance you could send the contact information for Sharon to my email firstname.lastname@example.org I would greatly appreciate it, I would love the opportunity to get to see this area in person I’m a couple days away from it.
Sent you the info!
I was wondering if you could possibly pass on the email address of the owner of the property at poolburn damn?
Hey Jack thanks for reaching out! Sent you an email with the contact info!
Im in NZ and would love to visit. Do you know if Sue is still accepting private tours? Could I grab her contact details?
Hey just emailed you the contact info to the email address you used for the comment. Thanks Robin hope you have a great experience!
Thanks again for all your help Liran. Just had a wonderful day out at Poolburn with Sue. We saw all the same locations you did – the canyon was particularly cool. Will be lining up my photos with the screen caps when I get home. Can highly recommend this to anyone who will be in the area and has an interest in LOTR.
Hey Robin! So glad this worked out for you! So sorry I just saw this now. If you want to do a write-up (with some pictures would be great!) the offer still stands – I’m happy to post it for you here!
Almost 9 hours I have searched for this location, i almost cried when I stumbled upon your blog.
Would you please be able to put me in contact with or send me the info of the landowner?
my email is email@example.com
ya/ll are awesome
Hey Traci! I just dropped you an email with the info. So so so glad to be of assistance, as I can absolutely 100% relate to the struggle! Good luck and have an amazing time! We’d love to post a video of you too if you if you do your own version and/or any writeup you’d like to do about your experience.
Follow up to my last comment – thanks to you Liran, we managed to get a private tour with Sue who took us around and was extremely generous with her time. What a surreal experience!! The scenery is unbelievably beautiful and wherever you look is worth a picture. We had lunch with view of the dam where the villagers flee out of Rohan. There is also the possibility of staying in a homestead nearby if you’ve got time and the area is well worth exploring. Thanks Liran for your research and pointing us in the right direction, we made great memories!
Awesome Sophie! I’m so happy this worked out for you! What an amazing place, and thank you for writing about your experience!
I‘ve just come across your article as I’m currently on the trip of a lifetime through the South Island on the hunt of all of the LOTR locations. I‘ll be in Queenstown from today for the Xmas period and if we could venture out to visit the shooting locations mentioned I will happily forego all the Xmas presents. On the off chance that Sharon still offers tours, would you mind forwarding me her contact details? The Gmail address provided is the one I’ll keep an eye out for.
Thanks so much,
You got it Sophie! Sent it to you via email. I think she should still be in business, the last few people I sent her way seemed to have success! Let me know how it goes, and good luck!
Hello from Sweden!
We are heading to NZ in February and would love to get Sharon’s contact details
Brady & Annika
Hey guys! So excited for you guys. We were there in February too… feels like another lifetime though. Check your email, instructions heading your way!
Awesome! Thanks so much Liran. We will keep everyone updated once we get in touch with Sharon. I’m wondering if you folks drove there in a 4WD of your own or if Sharon took you around in hers? Not sure our rental car will make it through the fords
She actually picked us up from where we were staying in her truck! No idea if she still does that, but that’s how it worked for us! If I recall, the road to her property was fine, but getting around there you definitely need something that can go off-road. And anyway, it’s her property so you wouldn’t be driving around on your own anyway. Based on recent feedback from others, I’m sure she will find some way to accommodate you!
Ok Wonderful. Thanks so much. Hopefully Sharon can take a few more Hobbits to Isengard
We’re another set of travelers that have stumbled upon your blog. We’re currently in Queenstown and we already have plans to go to a few of the other filming locations, and we thought it would be awesome to experience what you did! Would you mind sharing Sharon’s details with us?
Sure thing Kyle! Sending you the info now. Man, I’m starting to feel like Elrond here, just the guy you have to check in with on your way out of civilization to get directions/info. So happy to help!
Hi, would it be possible to share Sharons contact with me? If so, could you please send it to this e-mail?
Hi, would it be possible to share Sharons contact with me? If so, could you please send it to this e-mail?
Thank you and kind regards,
Sure thing Rebeka! I’ll email you shortly. Have an amazing time!
Your blog is awesome !
I come from France in march 2023 to visit New Zealand and mainly Middle Earth locations.
To discover Rohan, it could be possible to share Sharons contact with me ?
My email is justin.rossini @ orange.fr
Hey thank you! I’ve fallen a little behind on updating things, but that’s mostly because we just had our second kid in December and ah, travel has been on the backburner a bit. Hoping to get back on the saddle in a couple of months though! Anyway, sent you the contact info! Have an amazing time!
you’re amazing i don’t know how you foud it, it’s MADD
I going to New Zealand and mainly Middle Earth locations.
sorry but again it could be possible to share Sharons contact please ?
my email is
Thanks soo much!!!
Email sent! Let me know how it goes!
Thank you so much for putting us in touch with this tour. Her name was Sue not Sharon by the way. I did ask for a Sharon but it seems it’s always just been Sue owning the land there along with her children Sarah and Ben.
Regarding the tour, this is a message to everyone here.. it was the absolute highlight of all the LOTR locations we visited and we visited a lot. This is a very unique spot and the films almost don’t even do the locations justice as they are just breathtaking. Massive thanks to Liran again for this amazing hook up.
Brady & Annika
Oh wow, awesome! Did she remember us by any chance? I’m very confused by the Sue/Sharon/Sarah discrepancy, which is probably part of the reason I ran into so much trouble actually finding the place! Looking back through my notes (for over 6 years ago now!) I’m quite sure you are correct. I’ll update the post! Thank you!
me and a friend are huge LOTR fans and would love to visit the movie sets too. Could you please send me the contact details. We would be very happy about that.
Hey Niclas! Sure thing, contact info sent! Man this post is really blowing up lately, six years after posting, everyone wants to revisit these films all of the sudden! Is it because of new interest from the show?
I would kindly aks you to share Sue’s contact details with me
I have already visited Poolburn Reservoirs, but after closer research I have found this article. Would love to see the famous Legolas scene :-).
Part 1: Straspytlikkacka
Part 2: seznam.cz
Thank a lot mate!
I would kindly ask you for details on Sue.
I have already been to Poolburn Reservoirs, but missed the famous Legolas scene.
Thank you for an answer!
Part one: Straspytlikkacka
Part two: @seznam.cz
Hey Kate! Sorry for the delayed response, but info has been sent to you! Have an amazing time!