Green velvet hills. Vast snow-capped mountain ranges that fade into purple mist at sunset. Lakes as deep as thought with silver surfaces reflecting wide skies, and forests as old as memory with their tall trees murmuring in the wind. Sun on clouds, mist rising on rivers, air so clear you can pick out the lichen on a rock at fifty paces. Cry of hawk scudding home. This is New Zealand. This is Middle Earth.
Ever since Peter Jackson made his astonishing film trilogy, this has become the place that millions recognize as the living reflection of J.R.R. Tolkien’s imaginary world. The vast, wild beauty of the landscape stars in the movies as much as it does in the books and has been billed by the New Zealand tourist officials as ‘best supporting country‘.
Many people have dreamed about Middle Earth, and these Lord of the Rings tours can take you into the dream and it will become reality. Walk in the footsteps of Frodo and Sam from the lush green Shirelands into forests, across rivers and even to the twisted lava and ash fields of the Black Land itself. Along the way you'll easily recognize the sites of epic battles, and imagine you still hear the thudding of horses' hooves, the clash of swords.
Explore moss-shrouded forest glades surrounded by the snowcapped mountain peaks of the Southern Alps - or fly above them with the same people that flew the film crews over the Misty Mountains. Go whitewater rafting between the Pillars of the Argonath (chances are your guide there was once an orc!), and unwind later that evening in the same hotel where the stars stayed, swapping tales with a onetime Rider of Rohan.
All Guiding Services
Meet & Greet on arrival
10 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches & 2 Dinners
Entry Fees to private LOTR sites
InterIsland Ferry Wellington - Picton
Your Tour Itinerary
‘Haere Mai’ … welcome to New Zealand
You are met at the airport and transferred to your hotel for the start of the tour. We gather informally this evening to meet each other and prepare for our early start tomorrow.
Accommodation: Spencer on Byron Hotel, Auckland.
Be ready to depart at 8.00am. Prepare to be enchanted by Hobbiton - a very special site to visit. Have us take your photo beneath the Party Tree and outside Bag End. We have lunch at Hobbiton in ‘The Shire’s Rest‘, on the farm. In Rotorua later today, we’ll show you some geothermal activity and suggest optional activities, such as enjoying a relaxing hot mineral Polynesian Spa Pool. In the evening, a chance to experience traditional Maori Culture at its best.
Accommodation: The Millennium Hotel, Rotorua. (B,L)
From Rotorua to Ohakune, via bubbling mud pools and the beautiful Huka Waterfalls at Lake Taupo. As we pass through this area, we take the opportunity to see where there has been a segment of ‘Hobbit‘ filming at Aratiatia Rapids ( – dwarves and barrels ...... ). We stop for ‘Second Breakfast – Morning Tea‘ on our way to Mt. Ruapehu and the sites of Mordor, Emyn Muil and Mt Doom. See the spot where Sam and Frodo were lost amid volcanic lava flows and where they first met Gollum. Visit Gollum’s fishing pool, where Andy Serkis was careful not to plunge over the waterfall!
Accommodation: The Powderhorn Chateau, where the Stars stayed. (B)
Ohakune to Wellington via a ‘River Anduin‘ site, where there’s an optional extra Flying Fox, Canyon Swing or Bungy Jump activity for the mad and daring – great viewing for the rest of us! Then, it’s on to Wellington City. Tonight we suggest dining at "The Green Parrot Restaurant" – said to be a favourite of Viggo’s.
Accommodation: The Amora Hotel in Wellington, 2 nights. (B)
This morning we check out the site of Helms Deep and Minas Tirith and the Gardens of Isengard. Weather permitting, we travel over a hilly range to the beautiful Leaving Lothlorien site – where Galadriel waved goodbye to the fellowship – it’s also where Smeagol strangled Deagol!!! We return for a relaxed lunch at Kaitoke Gardens on our way back to the city. We drive through "Wellywood!", past Peter Jackson’s movie studios, to Weta Workshop’s new ‘Weta Cave‘. Time here to buy souvenirs, view their promo dvd ......... and maybe more! (An optional extra may be available here – a visit to the Weta Workshop’s Boardroom to see the display of figurines, their 5 Oscars and meet a LOTR artist. (Dependent on availability and our group number.) Make sure your camera batteries are fully charged !! On our way back to the hotel we visit the "Get off the road!" site on Mt Victoria, overlooking the city. Dinner tonight? Perhaps "Strawberry Fare" – specialising in delicious desserts, just up from the Embassy Theatre, where the ROTK Premiere was held.
Our North Island Adventure concludes and our South Island Adventure begins! We catch the Inter-Island ferry from Wellington, sail (under 4 hrs) to Picton in the South Island and head across to Nelson City. On arrival, we visit the ‘One Ring‘ maker, renowned gold & silversmith, Jens Hansen, to see his wonderful work and souvenirs.
Accommodation: Trailways Hotel, or similar, Nelson, 2 nights. (B)
This morning, weather permitting, there is an ‘optional extra‘ helicopter ride to the LOTR sites of ‘South of Rivendell‘, ‘Dimrill Dale‘ and a new Hobbit film site – more than highly recommended! Later, time permitting, you may like to visit the ‘World of Wearable Art‘ Museum. Your Guide has a variety of options for you to consider. (B)
We take the coast road today and drive to Kaikoura – home of Whale and Dolphin watching, stopping along the way to view the Pelorous River, where the Dwarfs escaped from the Elves, in barrels!!!
Accommodation: The Donegal Hotel, Kaikoura, 2 nights. (B)
This morning there’s time for those interested to take an optional extra activity – a Whale Watch Cruise or a Swim with the Dolphins Cruise, before we travel south and inland to the ski town of Methven. An early night tonight for a big day tomorrow.
Accommodation: The Lodge on Chertsey. (B)
It's time to head for the site and magnificence that is EDORAS! (A Barbecue Lunch and a Buffet Dinner are included in the tour cost today.) Bring sturdy footwear, a small backpack, a bottle of water and your camera! There we will climb to the summit, where once stood the Golden Hall! Later we’ll view the beautiful, mountain fed lakes – Tekapo and Pukaki and see New Zealand’s highest Mountain - Mt. Cook, which is over 12,000 ft high. Our overnight location is a great place to study the night sky – and see the Southern Cross.
Accommodation: Twizel’s McKenzie Country Inn. (B)
We depart at around 8-30 a.m. for the Pelennor Fields, an area that once rang to the thunderous sound of 250 horses on the charge, as King Theoden’s battle speech roused men to battle. Moving on, we check out the site of The Great Chase and then head out to Rohan country, to the canyon where the leaf brooch was dropped and where the Rohan village was burned. (Dwarves are ‘dangerous over short distance‘ here, or so Gimli tells us.
Accommodation: The Novotel Gardens Hotel, Queenstown. (B)
We take a picnic lunch to the Mavora Lakes today and visit 4 LOTR sites ∗ the Orc funeral pyre ∗ Fangorn Forest ∗ the log which concealed Merry & Pippin before Frodo left the fellowship ∗ and where Sam and Frodo paddled away on the next stage of their journey. Stunning scenery! Later you may like to jet boat down the River Anduin or take a wonderful helicopter ride to P.J.’s favourite location. There is also a Glow Worm Caves tour available this evening.
Accommodation: Luxmore Hotel in Te Anau. (B)
Today you have the option of joining a coach & cruise trip to Milford Sound and catching up with the group in Queenstown later in the day. Your Guide will advise you about this. Today our group returns to Queenstown, via Arrowtown, a charming old settlement, historically significant in the gold rush days of the 1860s.
This afternoon and tomorrow you are free to pursue optional activities:
- A recommended optional 4WD Tour is available through the ‘Ford of Bruinen‘ and ‘Gladden Fields‘. Fancy some panning for Gold? Still time for shopping!
- There is time today to take a helicopter flight to the Ford of Bruinen.
- Perhaps a cruise on Lake Wakatipu.
- A parasail over the lake.
- Or some retail therapy ~ shopping in Queenstown.
Accommodation: Novotel Gardens Hotel, Queenstown, 2 nights. (B)
The last day of our "Fellowship". Devote today to further optional activities and last minute shopping.
- A guided walk on the Routeburn Track?
- Horse trekking with Dart Stables? They still have some movie horses.
- A hot air balloon ride?
- A 4 wheel drive tour to Lothlorien country?
- Adrenalin Jet boat ride or Bungy jump?
- White water rafting?
- Trout fishing?
- A lake cruise on the SS Earnslaw?
- Scenic relaxation at Onsen Hot Pools?
The list ‘goes ever on‘......... Your Guide will discuss the many options available with you and assist or advise with bookings. Tonight we ride the Skyline Gondola up for our Farewell Dinner at the Skyline Restaurant. (D)
DEPARTURE DAY: Alas – your journey through Middle–earth is at an end. We thank you for traveling with us ..... there and back again..... Haere ra – Good-bye from us all!