Beneath southern skies, a world of pure magic awaits. Bubbling brooks wind their way through undulating hills of green velvet, nourishing ancient forests where tall trees murmur in the breeze. Soaring, snow-capped mountains stretch as far as the eye can see; fading into a mist of purple and pinks come sunset. Mirror-like lakes reflect wide open skies. Mist hovers above rivers and emerald-coloured moss clings to rocky banks. Hawks fly high overhead as they make their way home. This is New Zealand. This is the real Middle-earth.
Peter Jackson’s spectacular film trilogies – The Lord of the Rings, and, more recently, The Hobbit – shone the international spotlight on New Zealand, where J.R.R Tolkien’s imaginary world was brought to life with astonishing accuracy. New Zealand’s wild and vast landscapes draw direct parallels both on-screen and in Tolkien’s written masterpieces. This is a place where fantasy truly becomes reality.
On our specially crafted Lord of the Rings location tour you’ll journey north to south through the very heart of Middle-earth. Walk in the footsteps of Frodo, Sam and Bilbo; discover the charming beauty of Hobbiton and embark on an Unexpected Journey into ancient forests and across pristine rivers. On your way to the twisted lava and ash fields of the Black Land itself, you’ll spot the sites of epic battles where the sound of thudding horses’ hooves and the clash of swords still echo in the wind.
Take a white water rafting trip between the Pillars of Argonath (chances are, your guide there was once an orc), or soar high above the snowy peaks of the Southern Alps with the same people that flew the film crews over the Misty Mountains. See the impressive sights of Mordor, Emyn Muil and Mount Doom, and visit the river where the dwarves escaped the elves in barrels.
All Guiding Services
Meet & Greet on arrival
10 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches & 3 Dinners
Entry Fees to private LOTR sites
InterIsland Ferry Wellington - Picton
1st June 2014 - 31st May 2015
Your Tour Itinerary
Welcome to Middle-earth!
Upon landing in New Zealand, you will be transferred from the airport to your hotel in Auckland. This evening, you’ll have the chance to meet your group and your guide in an informal gathering.
Accommodation: Spencer on Byron Hotel, Auckland.
Departing Auckland at 8.00am, we discover the rolling emerald hills of the Shire this morning with a visit to Hobbiton. Peer over the gate of Bag End, dance a jig under the party Tree and enjoy a mug of Sobering Thought Ale with lunch at the Green Dragon Inn. Later we travel to Rotorua, where we visit sites of geothermal activity. Optional activities for the afternoon include enjoying a soak in the mineral hot pools of the Polynesian Spa. This evening there is the chance to experience a traditional Maori culture show and feast.
Accommodation: The Millennium Hotel, Rotorua. (B,L)
This morning we venture deep into the heart of Lord of the Rings country. On the way to Ohakune we visit bubbling mud pools and the Huka Falls at Lake Taupo. We also stop to visit the Aratiatia Rapids, where part of the Dwarves and Barrels scene was filmed in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. On the way to Mount Ruapehu we stop for elevenses (morning tea), before visiting the spectacular sites of Mordor, Emyn Muil and Mt Doom. This is the place where Sam and Frodo got lost amidst volcanic lava flows and where they first met Gollum. Gollum’s fishing pool is also here – this is where Andy Serkis had to be careful not to plunge over the waterfall!
Accommodation: The Powderhorn Chateau, where the Stars stayed. (B)
After a relaxing night at the Powderhorn Chateau – where the cast and crew themselves stayed – we journey to Wellington via a River Anduin site. For those after a little adrenaline, there is the optional extra Flying Fox, Canyon Swing or Bungy Jump. Afterwards, we continue on to Wellington City, the home of movie making in New Zealand. A great dining suggestion tonight is the Green Parrot Restaurant, said to be a favourite of Viggo’s.
Accommodation: The Amora Hotel in Wellington, 2 nights. (B)
This morning is packed with visits to exciting film locations. We journey to the sites of Helms Deep, Minas Tirith and the stunning Gardens of Isengard. If the weather is good, we visit the location where Galadriel waved goodbye to the fellowship. This is also the place where Smeagol strangled Deago. On our way back to the city we stop for a relaxed lunch at Kaitoke Gardens before driving past Peter Jackson’s movie studios and on to Weta Workshop’s ‘Weta Cave’ – a fascinating insight into behind the scenes movie making. There is time to buy souvenirs, view a short DVD and, dependent on availability, an exciting optional extra. You may have the chance to visit the Weta Workshop Boardroom to view their display of figurines, their five Oscars and meet a Lord of the Rings artist. On the short drive back to our hotel we visit the site where the hobbits hid under the tree root in the ‘get off the road’ scene. Dining options tonight include Strawberry Fare, near the Embassy theatre, where two exciting Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movie premieres have been held.
Wrapping our time up in the North Island this morning, we catch the InterIsland ferry from Wellington to Picton, stepping onto South Island soil for the very first time. Journeying west to Nelson, we visit expert gold and silversmith Jens Hansen – maker of the One Ring. Here, we get to see examples of his quality work and have the chance to pick up a few souvenirs.
Accommodation: Trailways Hotel, or similar, Nelson, 2 nights. (B)
Start the day with a highly recommended optional extra - an exciting helicopter ride to the Lord of the Rings sites of ‘Dimrill Dale’, ‘South of Rivendell’ and a new filming site from The Hobbit. This afternoon, your guide can help advise you on what to see and do in and around Nelson. The World of Wearable Art and Classic Car Museum is a fascinating place to visit. (B)
We begin by following the coast to Pelorus River in Marlborough, the location where the Dwarves escaped from the elves in giant barrels in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. The actor who played dwarf Bombur, Stephen Hunter, called this experience his favourite day on set. Afterwards, we journey to Kaikoura, a special town nestled between the mountains and the Pacific Ocean. This place is often referred to as the ‘Serengeti of the Sea’ due to its abundance of marine and bird life.
Accommodation: The Donegal Hotel, Kaikoura, 1 night. (B)
This morning there is the opportunity to make the most of Kaikoura’s impressive marine life with an optional whale watching or dolphin swimming cruise. Leaving the coast behind, we journey inland this afternoon to the charming ski town of Methven. Get a good night’s sleep tonight in preparation for an action-packed day tomorrow.
Accommodation: The Lodge on Chertsey. (B)
Prepare yourself for one of the most exciting days on tour. Today, we hike to the summit of the filming location of Edoras, the grand city of Rohan. You’ll be able to imagine the Golden Hall of Medusled that was perched on the very top here. Set amongst the grandeur of the Southern Alps, this filming location is unforgettable. Afterwards we view the pastel blue lakes of Tekapo and Pukaki. Stunning Lake Pukaki was chosen as the location for Laketown in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Don’t miss a peek of New Zealand’s highest mountain, Mount Cook, standing sentinel over the landscape at 3,724 metres (12,000 feet).
Make sure you’re prepared with sturdy footwear, a small backpack, a bottle of water and your camera. Included in the tour today is also a delicious barbeque lunch and buffet dinner. We stay in Twizel for the night; a place known for spectacular stargazing – see if you can spot the Southern Cross.
Accommodation: Twizel’s McKenzie Country Inn. (B,D)
The echo of 250 charging horses still whispers in the breeze when we visit the Pelennor fields this morning, the location for the greatest battle of the War of the Ring. Here, King Theodan’s battle speech roused his men to fight with great ferocity. Afterwards, we journey to the filming location for The Great Chase before heading into the golden tussock of Rohan country. Here, we visit the canyon where the leaf brooch was dropped and where Rohan Village was burned. Look out for the dwarves – Gimli warns us that they are ‘dangerous over short distance’ here. Dining options abound in the bustling resort town of Queenstown this evening.
Accommodation: The Novotel Gardens Hotel, Queenstown. (B)
Over the course of the day we visit four very special Lord of the Rings sites, all set amidst the magnificent landscapes surrounding Queenstown and Te Anau. We get up close to Fangorn Forest, the Orc funeral pyre, the log that concealed Merry & Pippin before Frodo left the fellowship and the place where Sam and Frodo pulled away on the next leg of their journey. Enjoy a picnic lunch outdoors, and don’t forget your camera! Later this afternoon you may like to take an optional jet boat down the River Anduin or a thrilling helicopter ride to Peter Jackson’s favourite filming location. In the evening, there is an optional glow worm caves tour available.
Accommodation: Luxmore Hotel in Te Anau. (B)
This morning there is the option of visiting breath taking Milford Sound – once called the ‘Eighth natural wonder of the world’ on a coach & cruise trip before meeting up with the group later in the day. Your guide can help you with this. Our tour returns to Queenstown via the charming old gold mining settlement of Arrowtown.
Free time today and tomorrow gives you the opportunity of exploring Queenstown and surrounds exactly the way you would like to. Your guide will help you to choose what to do, and optional activities include:
- A 4WD tour to the Ford of Bruinen and the Gladden fields
- A scenic helicopter flight to the Ford of Brunein
- A relaxing boat cruise on Lake Wakatipu
- Last minute shopping in Queenstown’s boutique stores
Accommodation: Novotel Gardens Hotel, Queenstown, 2 nights. (B)
Today is the final day of our Fellowship journey. Enjoy more free time to explore Queenstown’s scenic wonderland. Your guide will discuss the many options available, and can assist with bookings if needed. Ideas include:
- Take a guided walk on the famous Routeburn Track
- Explore exclusive filming locations with a horse trek from Dart Stables
- Embark on a 4WD tour to Lothlorien country
- Adrenalin-pumping Wilderness Jet boat ride or Bungy jump
- Scenic relaxation at Onsen Hot Pools
This evening, we celebrate our Unexpected Journey with a Farewell Dinner. We ride the Skyline Gondola up to the Skyline Restaurant and enjoy spectacular views over Queenstown. (D)
DEPARTURE DAY: Today your magical adventure through Middle-earth comes to an end. Thank you for embarking on this journey with us. Farewell!