When it comes to television and film, New Zealand’s rugged landscapes, stunning lakes, hills and valleys are well-established international stars. Countless travelers have ventured there seeking the beauty of Middle-earth. Now, for the first time in 11 years, a landscape that featured in key scenes from the Lord of the Rings movies has opened to the public to explore.
Located in Queenstown, Deer Park Heights was originally opened in 1966 and became a hugely popular attraction, where visitors enjoyed a self-drive safari-style experience on an 800-hectare working farm boasting some of the best views in New Zealand. For the past 11 years it has operated as a deer farm, something that will continue now that it is reopening to visitors. A new online booking system will provide an access code for a specific day for visitors to embark on scenic drives and take part in animal encounters, and the farm plans to be open seven days a week between daylight hours.
The Kelvin Heights Peninsula park allows guests to spot red and fallow deer, goats, miniature horses, llamas, alpacas, donkeys, and Kunekune pigs. Visitors can drive along a five kilometre road that includes picnic spots and a 20-minute walk that offers 360-degree views of Wakatipu and The Remarkables mountain range. Movie fans will recognize locations that featured in big Hollywood movies such as Lord of the Rings, Wolverine and Pete’s Dragon. Once there, an interactive online map helps guide people through movie locations and areas of interest.
Owner Mike Mee wanted to make the area accessible to visitors once again so that they could appreciate its unique beauty. “It’s such an amazing location and it seems a shame to not share it. We want to welcome visitors to a great fun, good value family day out for those who want to spend time in the outdoors and with our animals. To make it more family orientated we are limiting access to vehicles with up to seven seats, excluding buses, minivans and commercial vehicles. Unfortunately there’s no access for hikers or cyclists from the tollgate as they tend to scare the animals away, especially the deer,” Mike said.
A vehicle booking costs $55 and pre-bookings must be made through the official website. Access is limited to the day booked and visitors can only enter once.