Northbound Trilogy Adventure Itinerary

Young people a hobbit hole in middle earth New Zealand.

Begin Your Adventure in Queenstown

Welcome to New Zealand!
It is soo right to begin your adventure in Queenstown. Nestled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and ringed by towering mountains, Queenstown is New Zealand’s ultimate adventure destination and there is one thing for certain here: you won’t run out of things to do.  Queenstown is also home to an excellent food and wine scene as well as great shopping, hiking and endless opportunities to relax. So if you are after some down time after a long flight or you are fizzing for an adrenalin fix, the choice is yours as your New Zealand self drive holiday starts tomorrow.

Recommended excursions around Queenstown:

Routeburn Day WalkHighest Bungey JumpExplore Arrowtown

Wine Tasting Central Otago      

Biking Skippers Canyon      Round at Millbrook Golf Resort
Earnslaw Steamboat Cruise  Dart River Jetboat Safari      

Gibbston Valley Wine Trail

Accommodation Queenstown - 2 nights

Queenstown as seen from Lake Wakatipu.
Blue Peaks Lodge is located just 5 minutes’ walk from Lake Wakatipu and 3 minutes’ walk from Queenstown Gardens. The properties offers free off-road parking and a choice of studio rooms (with or without a kitchen), one-bedroom motel units and two-bedroom self-catering family units with an emphasis on your comfort and independence.
blue peaks lodge


4WD Safari of the LOTR Scenes Queenstown

As you would expect, most of the spectacular scenes found in the Lord of the Rings trilogy are located off the beaten track and very tricky to get to without an all terrain vehicle and local knowledge. This 4WD Safari is packed with gold mining history, thrilling 4WD river crossings and a great overview of the diverse scenery of the Queenstown and Arrowtown area. Visit the filming locations of Minas Tirith, Misty Mountains, the Pillars of the Kings (Argonath), the site of Isildur’s Fall, the Ford of Bruinen and much more. The perfect tour for anyone that want the thrills of an off road adventure but also wants to discover Lord of The Rings filming locations. Even if you are not a fan, you can be assured you will be seeing the best of the best when it come's to iconic Central Otago scenery.

Your professional guides are at hand to answer any questions on the movie or the history of the places you visit...

Stunning view of Queenstown and Lake Wanaka.


Travel to Te Anau - Gateway to Fiordland National Park

Collect your rental car and set off for Te Anau. Set amongst a skyline of great mountains and sitting beside the gorgeous Lake Te Anau, this is one of the great scenic towns of the South Island. It's location in Fiordland puts Te Anau squarely on the doorstep to adventure - some of the most spectacular wilderness landscapes in New Zealand are accessed from here, including the incredible Milford RoadDoubtful Sound, and Milford Sound.

The name Te Anau translates in Maori to 'Caves of Swirling Water' and until a relatively recent discovery, the origin of the swirling waters remained lost in old Maori legend. So recently rediscovered, a cruise accros Lake Te Anau to visit the Te Anau Glow Worm Caves is highly recommended.

Approximate Distance: 175 kms | 109 miles  Total Driving Time: 2 hours 15 mins

Accommodation Te Anau - 2 nights

Lake Te Anau
Situated next to Lake Te Anau, Kingsgate Hotel is within walking distance of the town centre. The comfortable rooms offer en suite bathrooms and modern facilities. The hotel has a communal lounge with a fireplace. Breakfast and dinner are served in the Jimmy Cook’s Restaurant, where you can sit and look out over the beautiful views of the lake all year round.
Kingsgate Te Anau


Kayaking Milford Sound

Milford Sound is of New Zealand's most spectacular sea kayaking destinations! The way to really experience the magnificence of this world famous fiord is at water level from a sea kayak. Paddle beneath towering granite overhangs, waterfalls, the Pembroke Glacier - Stare up at Mitre Peak, glacier scarred rock walls that rise 1200 meters (3937 feet) vertically from the sea and waterfalls that tumble from hanging valleys and crash into the sound far below – don’t get too close! You will be accompanied by Fur seals, the rare Fiordland Crested Penguins and the playful dolphins both Bottlenose & Dusky that frequent the fiord.

Milford Sound has long been acclaimed as New Zealand's most famous tourist destination. The distinguished writer Rudyard Kipling called it the 'Eighth Wonder of the World' and rightly so, but really a writer may struggle as there aren’t adjectives and superlatives strong enough to really capture the essence of Milford Sound, its one of those places you have visit to understand what all the fuss is about.

Approximate Distance: 236 kms | 147 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 40 mins (return)

Kayaking Majestic Milford Sound


Travel to Wanaka

A compelling mix of spectacular alpine scenery, fine food and wine and boutique shopping, the lakeside resort town of Wanaka is surrounded by some of New Zealand’s most wild and beautiful places. On the doorstep of the very 'Inspiring' Mount Aspiring National Park, Spectacular walks & hikes, skiing, water sports and boating options available here delight those passionate about the outdoors. Wanaka is a destination that’s charming in all seasons. Staying around town is just as enjoyable; delight in the many delicious eateries and bustling pubs and enjoy a stroll on the lakeside walkway or a swim in the refreshing waters. 

Approximate Distance: 230 kms | 142 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 

Accommodation Wanaka - 2 nights

Lake Wanaka is 300 m (980 ft) deep.
Bella Vista Motel Lake Wanaka is located in a quiet street in the heart of Wanaka. The motel is only 150 m away from the lake and within easy walking distance there are many restaurants, cafes and wine bars. Rooms are fully-serviced, with heating and electric blankets. Free off-street parking is available as well as a lock-up garage for motorbikes. Guests have access to laundry facilities and free WiFi. Continental breakfast is available on request.
Bella Vista Wanaka


Wildwire - Lord of the Rungs

Lord of the Rungs is the world’s highest waterfall cable climb. Reaching the top will take you through 450m of vertical terraine. With 3 levels to choose from, there are options to suit the ability of every adventurer. No experience is needed on any of our climbs.

Via Ferrata is the technical name for our climb - which means 'iron path'. It is a climbing route, built with steel rungs and cables that are fixed to the rock. It allows safe travel through vertical terrain which would otherwise be impossible.




Travel to Fox Glacier - Glacier Country

Your driving days do not get much better than this. Farewell the aquamarine vibrancy of the Shotover River and Wanaka lakes, and take on the Haast Pass leading in to the beech forests of the mighty Mt Aspiring National Park. Heading further north into the National park known as ‘Glacier Country’ – in parts, huge valleys of ice tumble down almost to sea level. Also blessed with lakes, rivers and wetlands; Westland is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. Here, the landscapes are highly revered by those kiwis who have lived here for generations, as well as by the local Ngai Tahu tribe who hold this wild place in high spiritual esteem. This coast is home to the famous Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers.

Approximate Distance: 265 kms | 164 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 45 mins

Accommodation Bella Vista Fox Glacier - 1 night

The Mighty Fox Glacier


Heli-Hike and Drive to Punakaiki

The fly-in, fly-out Heli-hike combines the excitement of walking on the Fox Glacier with the scenic thrill of helicopter flight. By flying in you are able to access and explore a part of the glacier where its forces work hardest and often create spectacular ice caves and arches. Upon reaching the top, hikers are rewarded with panoramic views of the glacier and its upper and lower icefalls. Following ice steps cut by the guides the track reveals crevasses and ice ridges as hikers make their way into the middle of the glacier for spectacular, close-up views of the ice fall and lower glacier.  

Make sure to take time to visit Lake Matheson, just a 10 minute drive from Fox Glacier Town, it is famous for its reflected views of Aoraki/Mount Cook and Mount Tasman. This is a great place to have lunch or a picnic, why not try the new restaurant that has just been built on the lakes edge.

Continue on to Punakaiki, famous for its ancient Pancake Rocks and booming blowholes. It is the centrepiece of the Paparoa National Park, which is packed with a variety of stunning landscapes. 

Approximate Distance: 245kms | 152 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 30 mins

Accommodation Punakaiki  - 1 night

Walking on the 'river of Ice' Fox Glacier.
Punakaiki Beachfront Motels are set right on the beachfront, these quality cottages in a quiet garden setting are only 500m from the famous Pancake Rocks and Blowholes. Units range from 4 fully equipped studio-unit cottages and 2 family cottages. All units have wireless internet and offer outdoor seating and cooking facilities. Enjoy local bush-walks, surfing, fishing, caving and canoeing. In the heart of Paparoa National Park.
Punakaiki Beachfront Motels


Visit a Seal Colony and Travel to Motueka - Gateway to Abel Tasman

Heading north to the East Coast, take time to explore the West Coasts wild shoreline. Stop off at Cape Fowlwind  and observe the New Zealand fur seal in its natural habitat. A close but safe view allows you to watch the seals swimming, dozing in the sun and feeding their young.

Sunny Motueka grows fruit, hops and green tea for the rest of New Zealand. There’s a lively café culture and two wonderful national parks close by. Over the harvest months, Motueka is a busy town. The local pip fruit and hops growers employ seasonal labour which swells the population, and many visitors use the town as a supply point for explorations of the Abel Tasman and Kahurangi National Parks. Check out the Riwaka Resurgence, where the river emerges from a marble cave.

Approximate Distance: 270 kms | 167 miles  Total Driving Time: 4 hours

Accommodation Motueka - 2 nights

Seal Colony at Cape Fowlwind
Enjoy solitude, peace and quiet at the Chalets Terraced Gardens. There are only three freestanding chalets to allow for the ultimate privacy. Situated an easy 10 minutes drive from Motueka and Abel Tasman National Park. All chalets have air conditioning, double sofa bed and ensuite. Lush and green, this rural oasis has stunning views of the Tasman Bay and the Rewaka valley and mountains.
Chalets Terraced Gardens, Motueka.


Cruise & Walk Abel Tasman National Park

Make a return day trip to explore golden sand beaches and luscious mature forest, you have freedom this day to hike as much or as little as you would like. Pack a lunch and enjoy this pristine National Park.

Start the day with a cruise into the Abel Tasman National Park. Choose to Disembark at one of the many picturesque Beach’s. You can walk from one long golden beach to another (maps and timetables supplies) Perhaps choose a bush track that weaves through sunny groves of Manuka trees and ferns between breathtaking views of the coast.

Allow extra time to take a short side track beside a crystal forest stream to visit tranquil Cleopatra’s Pool. For an extended cruise option, you can stay onboard the vista to cruise into the spectacular northern reaches of the park, including Tonga Island Marine Reserve known for it’s New Zealand Fur Seal colony.

Or just take an esky of cold drinks and spend the day at the beach...

Approximate Distance: 25 kms | 15 miles  Total Driving Time: 30 mins (each way)

Hiking the golden sands of Abel Tasman.


Travel to Havelock and Take the Barrel Run Escape

Get on the road and travel to Havelock at the head of the beautiful Pelorus Sound in the Marlborough Sounds. The Pelorus River Kayaking Adventure 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: 120 kms | 74 miles  Total Driving Time: 1 hour 45 mins

Accommodation Havelock - 1 night

Kayaking the Pelorus River

The lodge is located in the historic gold mining town of Havelock, which is home to a small port and marina near the Kaituna river mouth,  providing access to the Pelorus Sounds. Built in the 1800s, this two-storey lodge sits beside the Havelock Estuary created by the deposits from the Kaituna and Pelorus Rivers. Guests enjoy BBQ facilities and free mussel tastings each night throughout summer and have access to free bikes to access & enjoy local tracks. The lodge is friendly, comfortable & clean.

Blue Moon Lodge


Fly Across the Cook Strait to Wellington

This morning drop your rental car back at the Blenheim airport and enjoy a scenic 25 minute flight across the Cook Strait to Wellington.

During your time in Wellington a visit to Te Papa, New Zealands National Museum is most worthwhile. This spectacular waterfront building houses some of the most significant Maori and European cultural collections, with the sole function of telling New Zealand's story, both pre-historical and contemporary.

Here are some sight seeing and activity suggestions while in Wellington:

National Museum - Te Papa    Visit Cuba StreetWeta Workshop Tour
Zealandia Wildlife Reserve 

Wellington Cable Car   

Carter Observatory 

Approximate Distance: 62 kms | 39 miles  Total Driving Time: 50 mins

Accommodation Wellington - 1 night


Situated adjacent to the bustling business and government districts, Atura Wellington boasts an ideal location within a short stroll of Lambton Quay's shopping, lively waterfront dining, and Wellington Railway Station. Guests can enjoy an exceptional dining experience at Frankie’s Bar + Eatery and complimentary use of City Fitness Gym Thorndon

Atura Wellington


Weta Workshop and Travel to Tongariro National Park

This morning its off to see the famous Weta Cave. Join a behind the scenes tours of the Weta Workshop where you can see where and how the movie magic for both the LOTRs and the Hobbit Trilogies where made. This incredible place was co-founded by Director Peter Jackson and Oscar winning Richard Taylor - A must for all Lord of the Rings and Hobbit fans.

This afternoon take the Thermal Explorer Highway to National Park. Alpine meadows, jewel-coloured lakes, soaring volcanic peaks and natural hot springs form an environment of stunning diversity within the Tongariro National Park. Covering 80,000 hectares, Tongariro was New Zealand’s very first national park after Maori chief Te Heuheu Tukino IV gifted the land to the nation in 1887. Hiking and skiing are the most popular activities on offer here.

Approximate Distance: 310 kms | 192 miles  Total Driving Time: 4 hours

Accommodation National Park - 2 nights

An Orc at the renowned Weta Workshop Wellington.

Located 15 minutes’ drive from UNESCO World Heritage listed Tongariro National Park, where you can enjoy skiing, hiking, cycling and paddling activities. A daily, shuttle service is available hourly from 6:00 until 9:00 to the Tongariro Crossing & National Park. Free parking is available and most rooms include Smart TVs with the option of a fully equipped kitchen. Plateau Lodge offers a guest laundry, breakfast trays and lunch packs. Our tour desk can recommend local attractions and help guests with travel arrangements.

Plateau Lodge at National Park.


Hiking in National Park - Location of MT Doom

The National Park environment is so unique that it was chosen as the filming location for Mordor in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and more recently as Hidden Bay, the entrance to Lonely Mountain in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. This 19-kilometre (12-mile) hike traverses the Tongariro National Park, New Zealand’s first national park and a World Heritage Site, however you can choose walks in this region ranging from 1 to 8 hours. Gifted to the people of New Zealand by the Tuwharetoa tribes in 1887, the national park incorporates the three volcanoes of Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe and covers 78,651 ha.

Mt Doom - The Tongariro Crossing.


Travel to Waitomo - Discover Your Inner Hobbit (or Orc)

The 7 Hour Lost World Epic Caving Adventure!
Today you will take on the Lost World Epic  which includes the world’s longest commercial caving abseil (30 mins) and is by far one of the worlds best commercial caving adventures. We can attest but it also boasts one of the most surreal lunch stop ever.  The Lost World Caving and Abseiling Epic Journey is an expertly-guided, full-on caving experience – you need to be fit and you are going to get very wet. This adventure is sure to be one of the highlights of your time in New Zealand. 

Approximate Distance: 155 kms | 96 miles  Total Driving Time: 2 hours

Accommodation Waitomo - Palm Court Motel 1 night

Deep inside the Lost World, Waitomo.


The Geothermal Wonderland of Rotorua

After a short drive you arrive in Rotorua, the Maori cultural centre of New Zealand’s with its geysers and bubbling mud and hot spring bath’s. Head to the Polynesian Spa for a well deserved soak. Voted as one of the top ten spas in the world (Medical and Thermal Spas) by Condé Nast Traveller.  There are thirty-five hot mineral pools including adults’ only pools, a family spa, private pools and deluxe bathing, with a full menu of spa treatments available.

Recommended excursions in and around Rotorua:

See Geysers & Boiling Mud    Polynesian Hot Springs  Whirinaki Forest Walk
Thermally Active GolfBiking the Mighty ForestsFlight to Volcanic Island
Museum of Art & HistoryEvening Cultural Experience   White Water Rafting

Approximate Distance: 140 kms | 87 miles  Total Driving Time: 2 hours

Accommodation Rotorua - 2 nights

Champagne Geothermal Pool Rotorua
Located only a short way from the town centre and the lake front, our motel in Rotorua has been independently assessed by Qualmark as 4 star quality accommodation. Easy to find on Lake Road and from the moment you arrive, you'll enjoy the convenience of being located in close proximity to the nearby aquatic centre, the CBD, shops, entertainment and other activities.
Bella Vista


Rafting the Mighty Kaituna River

The Kaituna River is one of the most popular whitewater runs in the country, with the distinction of being the world's highest commercially rafted waterfall. This exhilarating seven metre drop of raging, thundering whitewater is the ultimate rafting experience to be found in New Zealand. The Kaituna offers a forty-five minute trip over fourteen drops, including the seven metre waterfall, through the depths of a magnificent bush-lined gorge steeped in Maori history. The Kaituna is classified as a grade five river because of its seven metre waterfall, however it is suitable for all people who are reasonably comfortable in water.

Stunning picture of a group doing the Kaituna River White Water Rafting.


Visit Hobbiton Movie Set and Travel to Auckland

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 2.5hr 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. Continue your journey to Auckland.

Approximate Distance: 240 kms | 149 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours

Accommodation Auckland - 1 night

Insight in the beautiful landscape of the Hobbit movie set in Matamata.

Within a stones throw of the Britomart & Harbour side entertainment and dining precinct - your stay in Auckland will be a memorable one. Fully equipped modern serviced one, two and three bedroom apartments are perfect for short or long term stays within Auckland City. Full kitchen and laundry facilities allow you the freedom to stay as if you had never left home. Newly refurbished hotel rooms are perfect for shorter stays.

Nesuto Stadium Apartments, Located in Auckland Central Business District.


Homeward Bound

Enjoy a final leisurely breakfast, relax your flight home is more than likley a late evening departure. 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 if you have time:

Explore Waiheke Island    Island Kayaking Adventure    America’s Cup Sailing
Auckland's Sky TowerRelax on the BeachRangitoto Island Cruise & Walk
West Coast Wine TourWhale and Dolphin SafariMuriwai Surf Beach

Haere rā and Bon Voyage!

We know you will love New Zealand's Northbound Trilogy Adventure - plenty have. Our promise is to make your travels through New Zealand as hassle-free and hospitable as possible - ensuring that today you leave with a memory card full of photos, and huge smiles on your faces when recalling your time in New Zealand! Have a great homeward journey, farewell and hope to see you again soon in Aotearoa, New Zealand. 

Ready to find out more? Talk to us here in New Zealand about New Zealand's Northbound Trilogy Adventure  - We Guarantee it will be the Holiday of a Lifetime!

Auckland 'City of Sails'

Profile picture for user Gina
What Gina says about this tour: For my guests who are passionate about the LoTR and Hobbit trilogy films, this is the ultimate self drive adventure. Starting in the adventure capital of New Zealand Queenstown, you'll enjoy kayaking in Milford Sound, canyoning in Wanaka, hiking Fox Glacier, Abel Tasman and the Tongariro Crossing and even try caving in Waitomo. Just bring energy, good base fitness and your love of Peter Jackson's epic films and stunning locations.
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