Self Drive LOTR (Hobbit) Filming Locations Tour

It is little wonder that Peter Jackson selected New Zealand to bring Tolkien's Middle-earth to the big screen. Gentle streams dissect emerald green valleys as giant mountains stand sentinel and ancient glaciers tumble to the sea. Embark on an unexpected journey and get ready for an awesome self drive LOTR (Hobbit) filming locations tour.

Hobbiton Set, Geothermal Rotorua, Hiking Mt Doom Tongariro, Weta Workshop Wellington, Hobbit Barrel Run, Seals & Dolphins Kaikoura, Boat Tour Tasman Glacier, Mt Cook, Overnight Cruise Milford Sound.

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Welcome to Middle–earth

Welcome to Auckland, situated amongst a cluster of extinct volcanic cones, next to a large harbour that bustles with life, both on water and on land. The Auckland isthmus straddles a slim piece of land with coastline facing both the Pacific Ocean, and, on the wild West Coast, the Tasman Sea.

After checking into your hotel,relax, take a stroll around our beautiful city, explore the highly acclaimed Waterfront Restaurant Quarter or choose one of the many activities available to give a more in depth understanding of Auckland and the surrounding area.

Some Activities and Sightseeing Options Available are:

Explore Waiheke Island Island Kayaking Adventure America’s Cup Sailing
Auckland's Sky Tower Relax on the Beach Rangitoto Island Cruise & Walk
West Coast Wine Tour Whale and Dolphin Safari Muriwai Surf Beach

Accommodation Auckland - 1 night


Find your inner Hobbit (or Orc)  and explore the subterranean world of the Waitomo Caves – a celebration of nature's work over the last one hundred thousand years. There are hundreds of miles of labyrinthine caves, glow-worms, under ground lakes, stalactites and stalagmites, and all manner of limestone crustaceans - a lost world waiting to be discovered. There are a range of options here – witness the Glowworm Galaxies Cave Tour up close or test your limits and abseil down into the wet dark underworld for a tour of the mysterious Lost World cavern (7 Hours). Above ground, the area around Waitomo is also popular for horse riding and bush walking.

Approximate Distance: 195 kms | 121 miles  Total Driving Time: 2 hours 21 mins

Accommodation Rotorua - 1 night 

Journey to the Shire (HOBBITON)

An exciting day awaits this morning. Journey to the emerald pastures and rolling hills of The Shire, where Hobbiton was brought to life on a private farm in Matamata. This idyllic village blurs the line between fantasy and reality. Set to the scale of a 3ft Hobbit you’ll feel like you’ve walked into a magical world of smoking chimneys, bluebells, and the Green Dragon Inn. Visit Bag End as well as the other 43 Hobbit Holes on this fully Guided 2.5 hr Hobbiton Tour. Learn about the production of the movies – how did they make Gandalf appear so tall? Why was this exact site chosen to build Hobbiton? The passion and knowledge gleaned from your guide brings this authentic Middle-earth experience to life. 

Afterwards, continue on to Rotorua, 2hrs drive. The history of New Zealand Maori is at its most visible in this area rich in geothermal activity and blessed with abundant rivers, lakes and forests. An evening Maori Concert with Hangi Meal (cooked in underground oven) will give you insight into the First People of New Zealand.

Approximate Distance: 137 kms | 85 miles  Total Driving Time: 1 hours 47 mins

Accommodation Rotorua - 1 night


Today head for Mount Doom - stopping first at Wai-o-tapu (Sacred Waters) where New Zealand's most colourful volcanic area will have you reaching for your camera. Take in the volcanic sites at your own pace as you view massive boiling mud pools and vast steaming hotpools.

Journeying on to the pretty crater lake town of Taupo situated before the desolate Central Plateau of Tongariro National Park. Here, volcanoes soar from plains of golden tussock and rocky gorges – this is Mount Doom and Hidden Bay (entrance to Lonely Mountain) country. Drive past the foot of Mount Ruapehu, New Zealand’s tallest volcano, before arriving at your accommodation in the hamlet of National Park village. 

Approximate Distance: 185 kms | 115 miles  Total Driving Time: 2 hours 20 mins

​Accommodation National Park - 2 nights  


Today, rise early to begin the spectacular Tongariro Crossing, an 8-hour journey over volcanic craters and past jewel-coloured lakes. These landscapes formed the ultimate destination for Frodo’s quest for the ring – the conical volcano of Mount Ngauruhoe played Mount Doom, the volcano in Mordor where the One Ring was created within Sammath Naur. The views of the desolate, grand landscapes that surround the track are spectacular; providing the Lord of the Rings production crew with the perfect base from which to create Emyn Muil and the Plains or Gorgonath. This is a phenomenal day where you’ll get to experience otherworldly landscapes that look exactly like Middle-earth – don’t forget your camera!

If you prefer a less strenuous adventure enjoy a 3 Hours  - Lord of the Rings Guided Tour of Tongariro National Park - this offers an outstanding opportunity for you to visit many of the actual filming locations used in Peter Jackson’s version of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, with first hand experiences to relay as we were involved in the production when it was here. You also explore a World Heritage status National Park of outstanding beauty with views and scenery that will leave you spellbound.


Just nearby, the bush of Ohakune is home to the filming location for Ithilien Camp – stop by to experience it for yourself before continuing your journey south to New Zealand’s capital, a short three-four hour drive away.

Wellington, known as the ‘Middle of Middle-earth’ and home to the New Zealand film industry, formed the production base for the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. Several filming locations are dotted throughout the Wellington region, while WETA Workshop Headquarters is within the city itself. The location for the creation of the Outer reaches of The Shire scene and where the Hobbits hid to escape the Nazgul can be found on Mount Victoria. The pretty refuge of Rivendell and the encampment of Dunharrow are easily visited with a short drive from Wellington City.

Approximate Distance: 306 kms | 190 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 50 mins

​Accommodation Wellington - 2 nights


Get excited about the prospect of exploring this movie making Mecca today, choosing between two fascinating Lord of the Rings tours. Both feature the amazing Weta Cave Tour.

1) Wellington Movie Tour: This short and popular tour is packed with a visit to  filming locations in the Hobbiton Woods as well as a visit to the Weta Cave to gain behind-the-scenes insights into movie making magic.

2) Ultimate Movie Tour: Embark on a day of Middle-earth magic when you combine both the Valley and Wellington tours. This exciting full day incorporates special natural places, lunch at ‘Rivendell’, visits to the scenes in Hobbiton Woods and, to top it all off, a visit to the Weta Cave.

NB: The very reason a you embark on a self drive LOTR (Hobbit) filming locations tour is to enjoy the flexibility to choose what you want to see and do.


This morning crossing board the Interisland Ferry for a cruise across the challenging stretch of water that connects the Tasman Sea to the Southern Pacific Ocean, you will enter the South Island island through the picturesque Marlborough Sounds. Setting off by road you will travel to Havelock at the head of the Pelorus Sound. The Pelorus river will give you access today to the scenes from the Desolation of Smaug - barrel escape. Stand on the same rocks as Bilbo and his dwarf friends. See the exact location where Kili was shot with an arrow. The gentle flow of the river is a relaxing way to connect with the untouched landscape of middle earth, onboard your inflatable two person kayak.

Approximate Distance: 36 kms | 22 miles  Total Driving Time: 50 mins

Accommodation Havelock - 1 night

Kaikoura Fur Seals - or Have we found Gollum!?

Today you will loop back towards the East Coast traveling through Marlborough Wine Country, home to world famous Sauvignon Blanc (along with other white varietals and Pinot Noir). The vines will keep you company as you reach the headlands of the East Coast. Once down on the flats this road - (worthy of any big budget car commercial) hugs the coastline - make sure you stop to enjoy the marine life as Fur Seals bask and play along the rocky shoreline, before arriving in gorgeous Kaikoura. The Kaikoura peninsula enjoys a mild microclimate and is overlooked by majestic snowcapped mountains. This unique proximity of ocean and mountain range offers a host of eco-tourism oriented activities, including whale watching, dolphin and seal swimming, kayaking, fishing and hiking.
Travel south for a couple of hours to Christchurch.

Suggested Wildlife Encounters in Kaikoura

Whale Watching Cruise Swim with the Seals in Kaikoura
Whale Watching Flight Kaikoura Dusky Dolphin Viewing or Swimming
Kayaking with Fur Seals Albatross & Pelagic Bird Watching Kaikoura

Approximate Distance: 353 kms | 220 miles  Total Driving Time: 4 hours 30 mins

Accommodation Christchurch - 2 nights


After a short drive is Methven, a quaint, pretty village that is home to pristine landscapes, down to earth local kiwis and many passionate outdoor enthusiasts. This town played an integral part in the filming of the Lord of the Rings trilogy; becoming a base for cast and crew as they worked in the nearby countryside.

The Tour
The capital of the Rohan people, Edoras, was created in the isolated and beautiful high country station of Mount Potts. Journey into this remote wilderness and soak up its crystal-clear lakes, rivers and crisp mountain air. This full day tour incorporates a 4WD tour onto Mount Sunday/Edoras, a gourmet champagne picnic lunch, full movie commentary from our expert, friendly guides and magnificent, signature New Zealand scenery for an experience you’ll never forget.

Tour Highlights:

  • Thrilling 4WD adventure across a handful of small streams and right to Edoras itself.
  • Standing on the summit of Edoras just like Eowyn did, after a guided walk to the top.
  • Fascinating photos of Edorasunder construction during production – exclusive to us!
  • Spot the Misty Mountains and the landscapes that created the backdrop to Helms Deep.
  • Enjoy a gourmet champagne picnic lunch in the outdoors.
  • Entertaining and interesting commentary from local, friendly kiwi guides.
  • Handle replicas – Aragorn’s Sword, King Theoden’s Sword, Gimli’s Axe, Gandalf’s Staff, Flag of Rohan.
  • Find out for yourself why this stunning location was so popular with the cast and crew.


Mt Cook - Tasman Glacier Adventure

Have you ever been alongside, discovered or touched an iceberg? 

Leaving the Garden City, head inland towards the rural Canterbury Plains, touring New Zealand’s spectacular Mackenzie region, you will encounter sweeping vistas of tussock lands and impressive mountains that make up the Southern Alps. This afternoon experience the Tasman Glacier Terminal Lake and its icebergs, in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. By boat explore the Tasman Glacier Adventure to the Terminal Lake, where you will discover the ever-changing ice face of the Glacier and icebergs, everchanging due to variable winds and currents.  Knowledgeable guides, enhance your experience with their expertise and passion for this amazing alpine environment. 

Approximate Distance: 332 kms | 206 miles  Total Driving Time: 4 hours

Accommodation Mt Cook - 1 night

Queenstown Vistas and Views

Today travel south via the Mackenzie Basin, the Lindis Pass and through the rugged scenery of Kawarau Gorge into Queenstown – the action packed capital of New Zealand. On arrival in Queenstown, settle in and explore the cafes and shopping district nestled around the head of Lake Wakitipu. Take a trip up the Gondola to view the spectacular alpine location, ice, lakes mountain tips abound!.

Recommended Excursions in Queenstown

Routeburn Track Guided Day Walk Explore Historic Arrowtown Highest Bungy Jump
Wine Tasting Tour Central Otago Biking Skippers Canyon Round at Millbrook Golf Resort
TSS Earnslaw Steamboat Cruise Dart River Jetboat Safari Gibbston Valley Wine Trail

Approximate Distance: 265 kms | 165 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 10 mins

Accommodation Queenstown - 1 night


Head off today for the often moody & dramatic Milford Sound via the famous Milford Road and Homer Tunnel.  This is a lengthy drive that will afford plenty of stunning mountain backdrops, cascading rainforest carpeted canyons that tumble to the sound, tunnels and the cheeky Kea (native parrot) to keep the visual symphony booming. Upon arrival at Milford, board the Milford Mariner for a leisurely cruise the full length of Milford Sound. The Milford Sound is home to three species of dolphin, along with fur seals and penguins. Return under sail and anchor overnight in Harrison Cove. An opportunity to sea-kayak or explore the shoreline from the tender vessels. Stay in a private cabin with en suite, enjoy a sumptuous buffet dinner and a hearty cooked breakfast. 

Approximate Distance: 289 kms | 180 miles  Total Driving Time: 4 hours

Accommodation Milford Sound - 1 night

`Novaer' Farewell from Middle-earth

This morning you will return to Queenstown. Later today head to the airport, flying out of Queenstown airport is spectacular – the grand Southern Alps seen from high above is an incredible view that you’ll never forget. Returning to Auckland to connect to your international departure flight. is time to leave the fellowship of New Zealand and head home. We know you will enjoy the Self Drive LOTR (Hobbit) Filming Locations Tour and you will leave New Zealand with a memory card overflowing with locations to sleuth when rewatching the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit Trilogies. 

Approximate Distance: 289 kms | 180 miles  Total Driving Time: 4 hours

Ready to find out more? Talk to us here in New Zealand about the 'Self Drive LOTR (Hobbit) Filming Locations Tour' - We Guarantee it will be the Holiday of a Lifetime!