New Zealand’s dramatic landscape of golden plains, breathtaking mountain landscapes and enchanting valleys have fascinated viewers and fans in both the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies. These trilogies are based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s work of the same name, and all of the films were directed by none other than Sir Peter Jackson. The Lord of the Rings trilogy has won a total of 17 Oscars. While all of the film sets, except Hobbtion, have been dismantled – Lord of the Rings fans are sure to recognize some of the landscapes and film locations!
Discover the world of Frodo, Bilbo, Aragorn, Arwen – We invite you with „Haere Mai“ – welcome to New Zealand! Find here the itinerary and daily details of your (un)expected journey to Middle-Earth.
This tour package can be customized to suit your requirements precisely. Please let us know your special requests.
1 Night at Mount Cook Lodge & Motel - 1 x Valley View Room and 2 Nights at Chateau on the Park - Hilton Hotels - 1 x Guest Room
Rental car insurance: Fully inclusive with variable excess/deductible
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We play fair and we know we play with people who play fair!
Please take a look at our other New Zealand self-drive tours and if you can’t find the right tour- no problem! We are happy to advise you individually to offer you the perfect New Zealand holiday. That’s why we are winner of the „Bespoke Tour Operator of the year“ LTG-Award – New Zealand 2018, 2019″. Get in touch with us! Behind this website are real people who want to share their enthusiasm and expertise for this country. You enjoy New Zealand and your round trip, we take care of the rest.
The following summary lists driving information for each major driving day of your itinerary. Times and distances are based on ideal conditions without stops. Plan to take longer to allow time to explore and enjoy some stops. While in New Zealand we offer 24 hour support – details on how to contact us at any time will be well documented.
Upon arrival at Auckland Airport, you will pick up your rental car. You will have the rest of the day to recover from your long flight. In „The Lord of the Rings“ and the „Hobbit“ trilogy, New Zealand was splendidly showcased and firmly established in the imagination of viewers worldwide as Middle Earth. On your upcoming trip, you will understand why Sir Peter Jackson chose to shoot the films in New Zealand. Let yourself be captivated by this land full of contrasts – we wish you an unforgettable journey into the world of Middle Earth!
Heading south, you will leave Auckland, cross the Bombay Hills and enter the Waikato River valley. New Zealand’s longest river runs through one of the most agriculturally productive areas on earth.
On your journey, you will make a stop in Matamata. On a 2-hour guided tour here, you’ll discover the real Middle Earth and visit the film set of the „Lord of the Rings“ and „Hobbit“ triologies, which might be better known to you as the „Shire.“
During your Hobbiton tour you will see the Hobbit Caves, „The Green Dragon Inn“, the „Party Tree“ and many other highlights.
On the way to Ohakune, we recommend a stop at Waitomo Caves. The glowworm caves resemble Tolkien’s description of the „Glittering Caves of Aglarond“. You can explore them by boat (optional). Adventure seekers should try the „Lost World Abseil Tour“ (optional). Secured by a professional guide, you will be rappelled 100 meters through an entrance lined with lush, green vegetation into a cave. You will feel as if you are in Gollum’s cave. Parts of this cave were used for the Hobbit movie series, but not as a filming location. Sound technicians recorded some different sound in the caves, which were later used as echoes of the Dwarven troupe in the Goblin Caves.
Your journey continues to Ohakune near Tongariro National Park, which is surely known to you as „Mordor“. Here you will spend the night at Powderhorn Chateau, where also the actors of the Lord of the Movies spent some weeks. So there is a possibility that you will spend the night in the same room as Orlando Bloom, Elijah Wood or Peter Jackson. The actors enjoyed their time especially in the two restaurants and the very popular Powderhorn Bar. The Powderhorn Chateau is the perfect starting point for excursions to the film locations of Mordor.
Use today to visit various filming locations (optional):
You will spend another night at Powderhorn Chateau. Tip: Look in the guestbook of the hotel for the entry of Sean Astin (Samwise Gamgee).
Along the Kapiti Coast you travel to Wellington. On the way we recommend a stop at „Riverbank Farm Equine“ (optional), where you can recognize some of the horses from the trilogies. You will also have the opportunity to meet their trainer Jane Lenaghan. Jane was Liv Tyler’s stunt double for equestrian scenes and also played roles such as Nazgul, Rohan Warrior and Ranger. Farm tours are available by appointment.
You’ll then reach Wellington, production home of all the films, home of Sir Peter Jackson, 3 Foot 6, Wingnut Films, Weta Workshop and Weta Digital. Explore the center on foot and discover interesting and famous sights. For an excellent start to your city exploration, we recommend the National Museum „Te Papa“ (admission free). This is where the premiere of „Lord of the Rings – The 2 Towers“ took place. At the corner of Jervois Quay and Cable Street is „The Film Archive“, New Zealand’s museum of moving pictures (admission free). Nearby (10 Kent Terrace) is the Embassy Theatre, Wellington’s most magnificent cinema. It was the venue for the Oceania premieres of „Lord of the Rings – The Fellowship“ and „The 2 Towers“. It also hosted the world premiere of „Lord of the Rings – The Return of the King“ in 2003, as well as the world premiere of „Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey“. A visit to „Dymocks Booksellers“ (360 Lambton Quay) is also recommended. This bookstore offers the largest selection of Tolkien books in New Zealand. Some of the film crew’s favorite places in Wellington during filming were: The Scorch O Rama (Scorching Bay), The Green Parrot (16 Taranaki Street), Bravi Ristorante (40 Wellington St.).
Today you will take part in a guided day tour to the many filming locations in and around Wellington. Together with the „Wellington Rover“ you will go in a small group on the tracks of the Hobbit, dwarves, elves and humans.
In the morning you will be picked up at your accommodation and start the day exploring the urban filming locations around Mount Victoria. On a 40-minute hike through the outer Shire, you will see, among other things, the filming location where the 4 hobbits must flee the road to escape the Nazgul. You will then drive to Weta Studios, where a guided tour will give you an insight into the world of the film industry. Afterwards, you will have plenty of time to visit the Weta Cave Museum and souvenir store.
At noon, a Lord of the Rings-inspired lunch awaits you at the Scorch-O-Rama Café. The afternoon is spent in the Hutt Valley. Stops include the Hutt River (River Anduin) and Harcourt Park (Gardens of Isengard and the place where the orcs cut down the trees). You will also visit Kaitoke Regional Park, the setting for Rivendell. Furthermore you will see Helm’s Deep & Minas Tirith, these filming locations are now located in a quarry and are not accessible to visitors. After an eventful day you will be taken back to your accommodation.
In the morning you board the Interislander ferry to the South Island including your rental car. Via the Cook waterway and the famous Marlborough Sounds you will reach the small harbor town of Picton. From here you will first drive to Havelock, primary producer of green shell mussels. A short drive from Havelock to Pelorus Bridge will then take you along the Pelorus River via the picturesque town of Canvastown. There is a large parking lot in front of the bridge, and from here you will start an exploratory tour. This is where the filming took place of the scene where the 13 dwarves and Bilbo were washed ashore after their previous capture by Elf King Thranduil and subsequent escape in barrels through the Forest River.
You can visit two of the filming locations here: Walk onto Pelorus Bridge and look downstream, with beautiful views of the surrounding trees and clear water. Then walk along the path next to the bridge on your left. This is where the orcs desperately tried to stop the dwarves on their wild barrel ride. (Coordinates: 41° 17’56.39“S 173° 34’29.81“E).
Interesting info: The shooting took a rather rapid end by the arrival of the police. This was because the police were about to issue a severe weather warning. Peter Jackson said he had never seen a film crew pack up so quickly.
Your journey continues to Nelson, the sunniest city in New Zealand. In Nelson you will have the opportunity to visit „Jens Hansen Gold and Silversmith“ (Trafalgar Square). Among the jeweler’s designs is that of the „One Ring“. Jens created 40 rings for the filming, one of which is on display in the store. Sadly, Jens died in 1999 before he could see his masterpiece on the screen, but his son Thorkild continues the family tradition. Upon request, Thorkild makes copies of the „One Ring“ in 9 and 18 ct gold.
Your destination for the day today is Kaiteriteri, on the edge of the Abel Tasman National Park.
A visit to Richmond is recommended. This is where „Harrington Brewers“ is located. The Harrington’s Stout beer brewed here was served at the Prancing Pony. For the movie, the beer was brewed with only 1.1% alcohol content, as some scenes are necessary. Harrington’s Stout can be purchased here with an additional 5% alcohol content. Also worthwhile is one of the exciting excursions with „Reid Helicopters Nelson“. You have the option between helicopter flights to the following filming locations: 1. south of Rivendell, 2. Shadow Creek Valley, 3. combination of both tours.
Your trip will continue to Punakaiki on the west coast of the South Island. Here you can visit a filming location of „Hobbit – The Battle of the Five Armies“. This is close to the famous „Pancake Rocks“, which you can enjoy on a 15-minute walk (best at high tide). The Paparoa Cliffs were used in the scene where the dwarves escaped from the Elf King Thranduil in barrels. Although the scenes in the water were filmed at the Pelorus Bridge and Salisbury Falls, the Paparoa Cliffs were used as a contrast in the background. The cliffs can be seen from several viewpoints.
The journey continues along the west coast to the Southern Alps, which may be better known to you as the Misty Mountains. As a natural weather barrier, the high mountain ridge is responsible for one of the most extreme precipitation in the country. Above the snowline, large masses of ice accumulate to form fast-flowing valley glaciers. The Fox and Franz Josef glaciers, about 12 km long, reach down to a height of 300 m above sea level – unique in temperate latitudes.
Today you will drive to Wanaka. Here you can visit the „Puzzling World“, which shows you insights into how different perspectives were filmed in the trilogy.
Adventure-seekers can also try a skydive in Wanaka with the same provider as Orlando Bloom. Alternatively, a scenic flight to famous Lord of the Rings filming locations is available, or you can try out „Have A Shot“ to see if your bow and arrow skills equal those of Legolas. If you look from the urban shore to the Alps at the end of the lake, you will see the backdrop of the scene in which Gandalf flew to Rohan with the eagle (Gwaihir) after his rescue from Orthanc.
Today you have the opportunity to visit other filming locations (optional):
Your tour takes you to Te Anau, the gateway to Fjordland National Park. The perfect way to get to know the unspoiled landscape and surroundings is a boat trip on Doubtful Sound (optional). This will take you to Lake Manapouri in Fjordland National Park, New Zealand’s largest and by far most developed national park. Since the rainfall here is among the world’s best, a very special vegetation has developed. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this rainforest area with its numerous fjords attracts many individual nature lovers.
Doubtful Sound is a real insider tip, as it is not directly accessible by car like Milford Sound. First you will cross Lake Manapouri. Over the Wilmot Pass you will reach Deep Cove and Doubtful Sound by bus. In this seclusion you undertake a boat expedition into the animal kingdom of New Zealand. Often you will encounter bottlenose dolphins. Numerous seals can be seen on isolated rock formations. On the way along Lake Manapouri you should take a look up to the high mountain peaks on your right, near Freeman Burn. Up there in the alpine peaks are the Norwest Lakes, locations used when the Fellowship left Rivendell for the south.
Today you’ll continue to explore the area on your own, or alternatively join a sightseeing flight to more filming locations (optional). On the Lord of the Rings Helijet Adventure tour you will see 3 filming locations. First, you can expect a jet boat ride across the Waiau River. Then, you will board a helicopter and experience a 40-minute scenic flight over the Kepler Mire, where Frodo and Sam walked through the Dead Marshes. In addition, fly over Lake Manapouri to the Norwest Lakes. Enjoy the view of the lakes before making your return journey to Te Anau.
On the way from Te Anau to Queenstown we recommend a stopover on the Takaro road. You leave Te Anau on the main road to Queenstown, after a few kilometers turn left onto the Kakapo road. After about another 6 km, the dirt road will take you through a clearing with an access road on the left. Park your rental car in the small turnaround area. You are now in the Fangorn forest. Filming locations are located on both sides of the road. There are filming locations around Queenstown that you can explore over the next few days.
Today you are in for another real treat for all Lord of the Rings fans! You will take part in the Pure Glenorchy Lord of the Rings Scenic Tour. On this tour you will go deep into the heart of Middle Earth and see the filming locations of Isengard, the Battle of Amon Hen, Lothlorien Forest, the Misty Mountains and Ithilien Camp. The professional guides know all the filming locations to the smallest detail and let you share stories and secrets of the filming. On the tour you will receive a delicious picnic and a free photo CD with stunning pictures.
The cast and crew fell in love with Queenstown and the surrounding area right away. Much time was spent at the Rattlesnake Bar and The Cow Restaurant, among others. Should you want to experience some filming locations again in a different way, we recommend a horseback ride with Dart Stables (optional).
Today your route will take you to Mount Cook National Park past Twizel. Here you will find the fields of Pelennor, where the biggest war scene of the Lord of the Rings trilogy was set. Since the filming location is on private land, it is only accessible by booked tour (optional). Your guide may be a Rohirrim or Gondorian warrior, perhaps even an Orc. The tour is offered by „Onering Tours“. Your journey continues into the national park.
On the way to Christchurch, we recommend a stop at Lake Pukaki. On the east side of the lake is a filming location of the Hobbit trilogy. This is where the epic pursuit of the dwarves by orcs took place as they desperately searched for the secret entrance to Rivendell. Afterwards, you will continue to Christchurch, the largest city in the South Island.
Today you will join the full day „Lord of the Rings Edoras Tour“. Enter a world of natural beauty with clear lakes, sparkling blue rivers and fresh mountain air. You will be picked up at your accommodation and start your 4WD adventure through several small streams to Edoras. During a short guided tour, you will climb to the top and enjoy the breathtaking 360-degree panorama. You will see photos of the formation of Edoras, accessible only for this tour. Furthermore, you will see the Misty Mountains and the area that was the backdrop for „Helm’s Ridge“. In addition, you will be able to hold Aragorn’s and King Theoden’s swords, as well as Gimli’s axe and the flag of Rohan. On your tour you will receive a delicious picnic.
Today your New Zealand tour ends. Drive to Christchurch airport and drop off your rental car. From here you will start your onward journey or journey back home. We wish you a good flight!
Goodbye – or in the language of the elves Namárie!
Please take a look at our other New Zealand self-drive tours and if you can’t find the right tour- no problem! We are happy to advise you individually to offer you the perfect New Zealand holiday. That’s why we are winner of the „Bespoke Tour Operator of the year“ LTG-Award – New Zealand 2018, 2019″.
Get in touch with us! Behind this website are real people who want to share their enthusiasm and expertise for this country. You enjoy New Zealand and your round trip, we take care of the rest.