New characters and mythologies, set thousands of years before those in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings books and films, were created for this film extravaganza. It is pure entertainment with gorgeous New Zealand as the backdrop. That’s no surprise—New Zealand is enchanting.
On September 2, 2022, Amazon’s original series, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power was streamed in more than 240 countries, and in many languages, around the world. 100 million have watched the series. There was no binging on this—episodes were aired weekly. Let’s look at the story lines and the New Zealand setting.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power | © Amazon Prime Video
Because this is a prequel, viewers didn’t need to read or see this classic fantasy in order to understand the new series. The evil force that created havoc in the other Lord of the Ring’s stories is the same, and we understand an evil being without having to meet or know him in a future time. Everyone was invited to the scents, smells, and wonders of Middle Earth, including those who had never visited before!
In this telling, we are privy to the wonders of the Second Age of Middle Earth. Fans of the series will discover when alliances, power-brokering, and kingdoms were formed and destroyed. We meet heroes that arise out of obscurity, and an extraordinary villain wielding his influence. All work to create the world we know from The Lord of the Rings.
The Southern Alps, New Zealand
We are transported to the stunning island kingdom of Númenor; the mysterious Misty Mountains, which are the southern Alps of New Zealand; and the lush forests of Lindon, the elf capital. The world is at peace, and then . . .? What happens next will reverberate through time. The evil Sauron, who disappeared in the wake of a war, returns. A new hero comes forth to battle him and his allies.
Showrunners and executive producers J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay led this series. In television, unlike in the movie industry, showrunners have the power to hire and fire writers, they often write themselves, they are the creative masters, and they are the liaison between talent and funding. There are scores of cast members—some were familiar faces, others were surprising newcomers.
Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand
The filmmakers chose, again, to use New Zealand to stand in for Middle Earth. The mind-boggling scenery makes a viewer believe that the world is both brand new and ancient. It is the sort of landscape that gives our imaginations room to roam. The South Island, in particular, is a treasure trove of unspoiled gems. Snow-capped mountains, roaring waterfalls, overwhelming glaciers, and mirrored lakes feel like Eden. There are fewer people on the South Island than on the North Island, and travelers still find much to explore.
Milford Sound, New Zealand
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power cost $465 million dollars for the first season, and more than half of the series was shot on sound stages in Auckland. The exact locations for outdoor filming were kept a secret. (It’s rumored that fake production teams went out, pretending to shoot, to keep fans confused.) This vision of Middle Earth was as breathtaking as ever. New Zealand is a super star!