A Stunning LOTR New Zealand Self Drive Itinerary

It took two years to film the LoTr trilogy, but many millions of years to build the sets.....This 7 Day LOTR New Zealand Self Drive Itinerary gets you up close and personal with the grand landscapes that inspired Director Peter Jackson to make the majority of Trilogy in New Zealand's South. We have added activities that get you away from the mainstream like a Jet Boating adventure up the spectacular Dart River, an island cruise of Lake Wanaka and a couple of back country safaris that will get you into the back of beyond to where most people never get to see.

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Welcome to Queenstown

The alpine resort of Queenstown is exciting, sophisticated and is surrounded by fantastically scenery and a lot of it used filming the LOTR Trilogy so a perfect place to start your LoTr New Zealand Self Drive Itinerary. It’s the place to source almost any kind of adventure, including bungy, jet boating, horse trekking, rafting and river surfing. It’s also a destination for luxury experiences – gourmet food and wine, spa treatments and leisurely games of golf.

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

Accommodation Queenstown - 2 nights

Journey Deep into Remote Mount Aspiring National Park

Explore the beauty of backcountry Glenorchy Township with a Jet Boat journey deep into the coveted and hard to get to Mount Aspiring National Park. This Wilderness Safari lets you enjoy isolated valleys and ancient native forests – frozen in time – amidst the adrenaline pumping action of the jet boat ride. Enjoy an easy, guided 40 – 50 minute walk through the ‘Heritage Trail’ at remote and very beautiful Real Paradise, where your expert guide will enliven your walk with an interesting commentary about the local flora and fauna as well as the Maori and colonial history of the area. You’ll also journey by 4WD coach via a scenic back-road route while enjoying stories about the history of the surrounding countryside. En route, you’ll stop to view scenery that featured as epic backdrops for the award-winning Lord of the Rings Trilogy. These sites are Isengard, Lothlórien, and Amon Hen.

LoTR Scenes 4WD Adventure | Lake Wanaka

This off road adventure gets you into some of the more remote Lord of the Rings filming locations. Explore the Remarkables, which were used as various mountains throughout the trilogy including the Misty Mountains. Traveling part way up this rage you get a bird’s eye view onto the area used for the refugees of Rohan and the Battle of the Wargs scenes. The Kawarau Gorge famous for its deep winding blue river is next where the filming took place for the Argonath and Pillars of the Kings. Leaving the Gorge the trip heads to to the historic gold mining town of Arrowtown where the loss of The One Ring at Gladden Fields was filmed. Its near here you will experience some true off road adventure and follow a historic gold mining road up the Arrow River to get to the Ford of Bruinen, a perfect spot for gold panning and a beautiful location for drinks and snacks. From Arrowtown you will travel to the entrance of Skippers Canyon where you will be offered spectacular panoramic views of the Wakatipu Basin and over mighty Skippers Canyon - a really awesome way to experience area's usually not seen by many - a must on any LoTr New Zealand Self Drive Itinerary.

Approximate Distance: 70 kms | 43 miles  Total Driving Time: 1 hours 10 mins

Accommodation Wanaka - 2 nights

Remote Island, Nature Reserve - Cruise & Walk

Leaving the main jetty in Wanaka, cruise to the remote and magical Mou Waho Island nature reserve, this predator–free island is home to some amazing birdlife. A one hour return guided bush walk takes you up to the top of the island to reveal itssecret – a lake right on top of the island and on that island there is another lake, and guess what, on that lake there is another island - and you guessed it, there is another lake on that Island.  This place is very unique and very photogenic and totally isolated, you cannot see anything from the top of the island out that is man made.  “High Tea” is served on top of the island overlooking all of these lakes, where you can drink in the vibrant birdsong such as kereru (wood pigeon) and bellbird with the panorama of the Southern Alps spread out before you. This is not a large tour busses would take you, so a LoTr New Zealand Self Drive Itinerary is perfect to get off the beaten track.

Mt Cook ‘Cloud Piercer’

The drive to mount Cook is stunning and the drive along Lake Pukaki is one of the most beautiful in the world, so its no wonder the alpine scenery was declared a World Heritage site by Unesco recently. In The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, several shots of Mount Cook and Tasman are shown as the party attempts to cross the mountains. They were turned back by an avalanche created by the evil wizard Saruman.

New Zealand's Mt Cook National Park is known for its exquisite alpine beauty and is home to our highest mountain, Mt Cook. Its Maori name, ‘Aoraki’ means ‘cloud piercer’ and at 12,016ft (3,755m) it towers above the surrounding snow-covered peaks in the park. A third of the park is covered in permanent ice and snow and the mighty Tasman Glacier is the longest glacier outside of the polar regions. Glacial melt gives the lakes their beautiful milky, turquoise colour and there are many walks in the area to take in the dramatic beauty. This is the very heart and soul of a World Heritage and National Park wilderness playground. Ice, snow, hidden valleys, lakes and glaciers offer golden opportunities for discovery and relaxation on your LOTR New Zealand Self Drive Itinerary.

Approximate Distance: 206 kms | 128 miles  Total Driving Time: 2 hours 19 mins

Accommodation Mt Cook Village - 1 night

Mt Cook Vista Walk | Great Southern Lakes | Methven

Hooker Valley Guided Hike: 5 Hours Walking, Distance 11 km (6.8 mi)

Start your day with a guided walk up the beautiful Hooker Valley, providing breathtaking views of some of New Zealand's highest and most enthralling peaks. Enjoy a stunning 11 km (6.8 mile) trek along over mostly flat terrain (there are some rocky bits) to the terminal lake of the Hooker Glacier. The journey encompasses an Alpine Memorial and passes over the turbulent Hooker River by Swing Bridge to unsurpassed vistas of Aoraki Mount Cook's south face and the surrounding glaciers. Your guide will point out the unique features of this alpine world as you enjoy lunch in the shadow of New Zealand's and Oceania's highest peak, standing at 3,754 metres (12,316 Feet).

In the heart of New Zealand's South Island lies Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki, these beautiful turquoise highland lakes are surrounded by a vast basin of golden tussock and the spectacular Southern Alps Mountains. Finely ground rock in the glacial melted waters gives the lakes a beautifully unique colour.  A perfect place to stop for a picnic on the way to Methven.

Approximate Distance: 261 kms | 162 miles  Total Driving Time: 2 hours 58 mins


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.
Approximate Distance: 96 kms | 59 miles  Total Driving Time: 1 hour 15 mins <

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