Stunning LoTR NZ Self Driving Itinerary

Lord of the Rings Scenery

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 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

Lake Wakatipu Queenstown

Your European styled boutique hotel is awaiting you in Queenstown, situated in a quiet yet central location with an easy 3 minute walk to local shops and restaurants. Take in the stunning views of the town, lakes and mountains as you enjoy a delicious cooked or continental breakfast on your private outdoor patio. In the winter months cuddle up with an open fire as you take in the gorgeous alpine backdrop. 

Browns Boutique Hotel - Queenstown


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 wants 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 comes to iconic Central Otago scenery.

LOTR Journey Queenstown


Travel to Lake Wanaka Via Arrowtown

Collect your rental car and take the scenic drive to Lake Wanaka. The drive is a compelling mix of spectacular alpine scenery, fine food, wine and boutique shopping - Very Twee.  the lakeside resort town of Wanaka is surrounded by some of New Zealand’s most wild and beautiful places. On the doorstep of Mount Aspiring National Park, the 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: 70 kms | 43 miles  Total Driving Time: 1 hours 10 mins

Accommodation: Wanaka - 2 nights

Lake Wanaka
Distinction Wanaka Alpine Resort is nestled in a quiet Lake Wanaka location and enjoys wonderful mountain views from the serviced apartments. The resort offers stylish, self-contained, serviced apartments each providing you with a high level of personal comfort and convenience, perfect for all seasons. Distinction offer a range of large, stylish and spacious self-contained apartments that provide a high level of personal comfort and convenience. They offer great facilities including a fully equipped designer kitchen.
Distinction Wanaka Alpine Resort


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.

Mou Waho Island Cruise


Mt Cook / Aoraki National Park

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 National Park

A stunning destination surrounded by the silent splendor of the Southern Alps and with spectacular views of Aoraki/Mount Cook and the surrounding National Park World Heritage area. There is a selection of properties within the Terrace Road campus from Hotel to Chalet and Mountainview Motels - all budgets and standards can be catered for.

Hermitage Hotel Mount Cook


Great Southern Lakes and Canterbury Plains

Hooker Valley Freedom Hike: 3 Hours Walking.

Start your day with a freedom walk up the beautiful Hooker Valley, providing breathtaking views of some of New Zealand's highest and most enthralling peaks. Enjoy a stunning 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. 

In the afternoon depart for the heart of New Zealand's South Island here you will discover 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 Christchurch.

Approximate Distance: 323 kms | 200 miles  Total Driving Time: 4 hours 

Accommodation: Christchurch - 2 nights

Hooker Valley Walk
Stay in the heart of Christchurch, the Rendezvous Hotel Christchurch offers chic accommodation with city views. Just 10 m from New Regent Street, the Rendezvous Hotel offers easy access to the Avon River as well as local restaurants and cafés. Christchurch Botanic Gardens is 3 minutes’ drive away.
The Heritage Christchurch


4wd Remote Journey into Edoras, the City of Rohan

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.


LOTR Canterbury Filming Locations


Homeward Bound

There may be time for some last minute sightseeing or shopping before making your way for your outbound flight. New Zealand’s second-largest city 'Christchurch' has bounced back after a series of major earthquakes, and has shown its resiliency with a number of new and exciting developments popping up everywhere. Don’t miss the Re Start Shopping Mall, made out of shipping containers, as well as the many funky Pop Up bars dotted throughout the city. All public services and spaces are running as normal, and Christchurch continues to be a vibrant city to live, work and play. 

Some suggested activities if you have time.

Easygoing Cycling Tour

   Punting the Avon River   Lyttelton Harbour Wildlife Cruise

Māori Cultural Evening

   French Akaroa Tour   Southern Alps Ballooning

Christchurch Gondola

   Clearwater Golf   Arthur's Pass TranzAlpine Hike

"Haere rā" Goodbye! and Bon Voyage!
We know you will enjoy this Lord of the Rings Tour and our promise to you 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. 

Christchurch City

Profile picture for user Aimee
What Aimee says about this tour: Hands down this seven day Lord of The Rings self drive tour is our most popular itinerary. It's easy to see why with the gorgeous remote filming locations and visual splendour on offer.
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