Offering the best flexible New Zealand escorted tours with no date or itinerary restrictions. If you came to New Zealand to fulfil a dream of discovering Middle-earth in real life, this is the Lord of the Rings tour you can’t miss. See the best filming locations at a leisurely pace.
Your fantastic guided holiday begins in New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland. Home to one third of New Zealand’s population and bordered by two stunning harbours, Auckland is thriving, diverse city surrounded by natural wonders.
Explore Auckland with your guide, visiting top attractions such as the Sky Tower, Mt Eden’s volcanic crater, Waiheke Island, Sea Life Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium, or Piha Beach.
Stay 1 night in Auckland.
Travel time Auckland to Bay of Islands – 4 hours
Leave the city behind as your tour continues north to the Bay of Islands, a stunning stretch of coastline with secluded beaches, forested hills, and fantastic marine wildlife.
Stay 2 nights in Paihia.
Board your premium cruise ‘Discover the Bay’ and see for yourself the best of what the Bay of Islands has to offer. Journey to the Hole in the Rock and if weather permits, sail through it. See marine wildlife including Dolphins and stop off at Otehei Bay on Urupukapuka Island to have a swim, go for a walk, have a bite to eat and relax.
Your Discover the Bay Cruise includes a delicious bbq lunch.
Explore the beachside town of Paihia in the afternoon.
Travel time Bay of Islands to Hamilton – 5.5 hours
Your tour will pass through the City of Sails once more as you continue south to Hamilton, New Zealand’s largest inland city.
In the afternoon, visit the chocolate and candy factory with your guide and relax in the city.
Stay 1 night in Hamilton.
Travel time Hamilton to Waitomo Caves – 1 hour
Venture off the beaten track as your guide takes you on a scenic drive to the Waitomo Caves. The land is wilder around here, with limestone outcroppings emerging from farmland and densely forested hills rising all around, but the wildest landscape of all lies underground.
Witness the marvels of these vast caverns as you explore two fantastic caves – the Ruakuri Cave, home to a dizzying array of cave formations, and the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, where you will be dazzled by a galaxy of glowworms overhead.
Travel time Waitomo Caves to Rotorua – 2 hours
Enjoy the scenic drive through rolling farmland to Rotorua, the geothermal capital of New Zealand.
Stay 2 nights in Rotorua.
Travel time Rotorua to Matamata – 1 hour
Experience the real Middle-earth™ at the Hobbiton™ Movie Set, where, in the heart of the Waikato region, you can step into the lush pastures of the Shire™, as seen in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. Your guide will then escort you around the set, showing the intricate detailing, pointing out the most famous locations and explaining how the movie magic was made. You will be fully guided around the 12 acre set; past Hobbit Holes™, the Mill and into the world-famous Green Dragon™ Inn, where you will be presented with a complimentary, exclusive Hobbit™ Southfarthing™ beverage to conclude your own Middle-earth™ adventure.
In the afternoon, tour the exciting geothermal attractions in Rotorua with your guide, visiting sulphur springs, mud pools, geysers, and sinter terraces. You have the option to add on dinner at the top of the Skyline Gondola or a Maori cultural experience including a Hangi dinner.
Travel time Rotorua to Taupo – 1 hour
Your geothermal experience will continue as you enjoy the short drive to Taupo, a small town set beside New Zealand’s largest lake. With the volcanic peaks of Tongariro National Park looming in the distance, and the lake itself formed from an ancient volcanic crater, you will get a close-up look at the immense forces that shaped New Zealand. Visit Huka Falls with your guide and relax on the lakefront.
In the afternoon, lift high above Lake Taupo to soar around the volcanic peaks of Tongariro National Park, flying over Mt Doom as you explore the craters and colourful volcanic lakes on a scenic floatplane flight.
Stay 1 night in Taupo.
Travel time Taupo to Wellington – 4.5 hours
Continue south to Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city. Your guide will help you become acquainted with this charming city – you could visit the Te Papa Museum, ride the Wellington Cable Car, or take in the views from the top of Mt Victoria.
Stay 2 nights in Wellington.
Today, join a full-day Lord of the Rings tour! Follow in the footsteps of Hobbits, Dwarfs, Elves and Men. You will cover a lot of ground on the tour, but there is enough time to explore, recreate scenes for yourself, and work out how the movies were made. The scenery of Wellington mirrors that of Middle-Earth.
The morning is spent exploring the city locations; you will spend 40 minutes walking through the Outer Shire. This location includes the famous ‘Get off the road’ scene, the ‘shortcut to mushrooms,’ the Black Rider scenes and many more. Then it’s off to the Weta Workshop for an inside look at the Wellington film industry. Your visit to Weta will include the ‘Window into Workshop’ exhibition, which is a guided tour of the inner working of the Weta Workshop. After the morning’s excitement, it’s time for an Orc-sized lunch. You will head out to Scorch-O-Rama cafe for an LOTR themed menu designed especially for Wellington Rover Tours. This is included in the cost of your tour. The afternoon is spent exploring the Great River Anduin, the Gardens of Isengard, and Rivendell. You will also see the location where Helms Deep & Minas Tirith were filmed.
Sailing time Wellington to Picton – 3 hours
Travel time Picton to Kaikoura – 2 hours
Begin your day with a cruise across the windswept Cook Strait.
Upon reaching the South Island, your guide will take you on a scenic drive through the Marlborough wine region, with the option to stop at a winery (or two!) along the way for samples of the award-winning wines.
Spend the evening in Kaikoura, a stunning coastal town with a backdrop of majestic mountains. Be sure to sample the superb local seafood at dinner!
Stay 1 night in Kaikoura.
Travel time Kaikoura to Christchurch – 2.5 hours
Christchurch is a vibrant, energetic city where urban regeneration, creativity, and innovation thrive. Picture amazing street art, innovative projects, a booming hospitality scene and state-of-the-art architecture that is changing the way the city looks, feels and functions – all the while staying true to its heritage and traditional English feel.
Discover the vibrant and picturesque garden city, renowned for its natural beauty, lively entertainment scene, and strong cultural heritage. With its stunning botanical gardens and tree-lined avenues, Christchurch is both a sophisticated city and beautiful place to relax.
Stay 2 nights in Christchurch.
Take a journey into Middle-earth with a full day tour from Christchurch to a key Lord of the Rings filming location. Edoras, also known as Mt Sunday, is set within the remote Mt Potts high country station. Learn how the set was built on top of sheer cliffs, see exclusive photos from the film’s construction, and enjoy awe-inspiring 360-degree views from the summit.
In the afternoon, the city’s award-winning Christchurch Botanic Gardens offer a relaxing inner-city escape and are found near The Arts Centre, one of the most significant collections of heritage buildings in New Zealand. The serene Ōtākaro/Avon River meanders through the beautiful gardens before continuing through the CBD and out to sea.
Travel time Christchurch to Mt Cook Village – 4 hours
Your scenic journey through the Mackenzie Basin begins today as you cross over Burkes Pass. As the Southern Alps loom before you, there will be photo opportunities around every corner. Continue past Lake Pukaki on your way to Mt Cook Village, nestled at the foot of New Zealand’s highest mountain. Your guide will take you to a viewpoint over Tasman Glacier, lying at the base of the spectacular Tasman Valley. Option to add on a Tasman Glacier boat tour.
Stay 1 night in Mt Cook Village.
Travel time Mt Cook Village to Wanaka – 3 hours
The scenery remains just as spectacular as ever while you continue your tour south to Wanaka, an alpine town boasting panoramic views and a relaxing atmosphere. Along the way, your guide will take you to sample the fresh fruit from the orchards of Cromwell.
Explore the town with your guide, with the option to visit Puzzling World or Rippon Winery, take a scenic drive into Mt Aspiring National Park, or enjoy a peaceful lakeside stroll.
Stay 1 night in Wanaka.
Travel time Wanaka to Te Anau – 3 hours
Your scenic tour will continue as you enjoy the drive over the Crown Range to Queenstown. Your guide will stop along the way for photos at fantastic viewing points.
In the afternoon, continue to Te Anau, the gateway to Fiordland National Park.
Stay 2 nights in Te Anau.
Embark on a fantastic journey along the Milford Highway today to New Zealand’s most iconic fiord – Milford Sound. Travel with a tour group on this day trip to Milford Sound, stopping along the way for countless scenic photo opportunities and short walks.
At Milford Sound, enjoy a scenic nature cruise that takes you up close to the majesty of the fiord – you might even spot keas, seals, dolphins, or the rare Fiordland Crested Penguin! With specialist nature guides on board, offering a close-up experience of Milford Sound’s rainforest, soaring rock walls, towering snow capped mountains, cascading waterfalls, hanging valleys and wildlife… words just don’t do it justice, you have to see it for yourself!
Travel time Te Anau to Dunedin via the Catlins – 5 hours
Along the way to Dunedin, your guide will take you on a tour of the remote Catlins coast, where you will find pounding waterfalls, an iconic lighthouse, lush native bush, a petrified forest, and maybe even penguins and dolphins! Stop for a number of nature walks and photo opportunities along the way, and soak in the wild natural beauty.
In the evening, relax in Dunedin, where you will find a number of striking historic buildings in the compact town centre.
Stay 2 nights in Dunedin.
Today, join the Taieri Gorge Railway for one of the world’s great train trips, an experience not to be missed. Departing from Dunedin’s beautiful railway station, the Taieri Gorge Railway begins its scenic journey into some of New Zealand’s most rugged, ever-changing scenery. The train travels into the Taieri Gorge, a narrow and deep canyon carved out over aeons by the ancient Taieri River. The train negotiates the gorge with ease as it travels through ten tunnels and over countless bridges and viaducts.
In the afternoon, your guide will show you around Dunedin – visit attractions of interest such as the Olveston Historic Home, Dunedin Railway Station or the Toitu Otago Settlers Museum. You may also like to go for a browse around the shops, stop for a coffee or a nice lunch in one of the prestigious cafés and restaurants Dunedin has to offer.
Travel time Dunedin to Queenstown – 3.5 hours
Your adventure continues through the ever-changing hills of Central Otago, past bluffs and gorges, farmland and vineyards, to reach Queenstown.
Relax and explore the city independently in the evening, or add on a cruise and high country dinner with the TSS Earnslaw.
Stay 3 nights in Queenstown.
Explore the Lord of the Rings locations around Queenstown with your guide today on an excursion to the stunning Glenorchy region, nestled at the head of Lake Wakatipu.
From there, join a jet boat safari which continues past Glenorchy up the Dart River, passing into the Paradise Valley (easily recognisable as Isengard). Stop for a nature walk through the forest used as Lothlorien, and marvel at the snow-capped mountain peaks and stunning turquoise river.
Afterwards, relax and explore Glenorchy with your guide. You have the option to enjoy a forest walk, visit further filming locations (including the Ithilien Camp, the location of the Battle of Amon Hen, and the setting for Beorn’s house from The Hobbit), or take a scenic drive to Kinloch Lodge for a coffee or lunch overlooking the wild reaches of Lake Wakatipu.
Visit the historic mining settlement of Arrowtown and explore the Lord of the Rings locations around Queenstown with your guide today on a relaxing scenic drive. Several locations you’ll see are the Argonath (the Pillars of the Kings), the Misty Mountains, the Ford of Bruinen, and Deer Park Heights (where the Battle of the Wargs and the Refugees of Rohan were filmed).
In the evening, raise a glass to a fantastic holiday!
Your guide will deliver you to Queenstown Airport for your departing flight.
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