You will be welcomed to NZ and met by one of our friendly guides, where your epic journey through Middle Earth begins! Today we will take a trip to the top of the Auckland Sky Tower and view the City of Sails from 300m above, wander through the bustling streets of New Zealand’s largest city and venture up to Mt Eden; a stunning viewpoint and one of New Zealand’s most famous volcanic craters. Tonight serves us up the possibility to eat in one of Auckland’s many waterfront restaurants as we watch the world ‘sailing’ by.
Today you will head south to Waitomo to discover New Zealand’s largest underground caving network and undertake a one hour tour to discover glow-worms in their natural environment. Afterwards you will visit the only remaining film set from the trilogy; the picturesque, peaceful village of Hobbiton! You will take a 2 hour guided tour through Hobbiton and its many hobbit holes, beautiful green rolling hills, vegetable gardens (real and fake) and even stop for a Southfarthing Ale at the Green Dragon! You will arrive in Rotorua late afternoon where you could have a walk through the wonderful redwood forest or take a tour through a thermal mud pool reserve and view Rotorua’s stunning Government Gardens and lakefront.
This morning you will take a guided walk around Te Puia and experience mud pools, geysers and visit the Maori Weaving School and Kiwi House. This is a chance to see our national nocturnal bird up close. This afternoon is free for leisure activities. Options include: Rotorua Gondola and Luge, a trip to Rotorua Agrodome to experience zorbing or a walk through the redwood forest. Tonight you will enjoy a Hangi and cultural performance with our native Maori people.
You leave Rotorua today and head south towards one of New Zealand’s three Unesco World Heritage sites; Tongariro National Park. Your first stop for the day is Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland – a Wonderland of Stunning Geothermal Activity. You will see New Zealand’s largest thermal mud pool, sinter terraces and stunning hot and cold pools of many different colours (included activity). Heading south and stopping at the mind-blowingly powerful Huka Falls en route, you will reach Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest lake, where you may wish to stop for lunch and hopefully view Mount Doom across the lake! Arriving in Tongariro National Park, you are surrounded not only by active volcanoes and the beautiful Mangawhero Falls and Taiwhai Falls (Gollum’s pool) but several other LOTR filming locations, including areas used to portray Mordor, the rocky wasteland of Emyn Muil and the stunning volcano of Mount Ngaurauhoe, known by LOTR fans as the one and only Mount Doom! As most of these sites cannot be reached by road, you will be taken on a scenic flight, giving you the best views of these secluded filming locations. This evening you will enjoy a three course meal at the picturesque Chateau Tongariro.
Today you will drive to River Valley Lodge, where you will be taken on a full day rafting trip down the Rangitikei River which will see you drifting through dramatic landscapes which portrayed the stunning “River Anduin.” in the Lord of the Rings. This evening you will be staying in the quaint farming town of Taihape, before making your way south to New Zealand’s capital city tomorrow morning.
Today you head south to Wellington. Wellington is New Zealand’s capital city and the home of post-production for Lord of The Rings, as well as a plethora of filming locations. Today you have the option of having a coffee or lunch at the iconic seaside “Chocolate Fish Cafe” where early discussions about creating the trilogy occurred between Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and producer Barrie M. Osborne.
Today you will be taken on a full day Lord of the Rings tour with Rover Rings Tours to see many filming locations in the greater Wellington area! Sites today include Dunharrow, the Outer Shire, parts of the Hutt River used to also portray The River Anduin, the Gardens of Isengard and the glorious Rivendell! You will also see where Helms Deep and Minas Tirith were filmed. Today’s tour also includes a 45 minute tour through the Weta Cave at Weta Workshop where post production for LOTR and The Hobbit trilogies was completed.
Today you will take the beautiful drive out to the Putangirua Pinnacles where scenes for The Dimholt Road were filmed. The Putangirua Pinnacles are a stunning yet unusual canyon like landscape surrounded by tall, thin pinnacle rock formations. The impressive scenery here meant that no CGI was needed to create the Dimholt Road, nature did it all! Go in search of the Army of the Dead by walking straight through the Pinnacles or take the walk up to the lookout and view this bizarre but beautiful landscape from above. On the way back to Wellington, perhaps pop in to a beautiful Martinborough Vineyard, an area famous for Pinot Noir.
It’s time to journey over the Cook Strait and wave goodbye to the North Island today, as you sail toward the mainland of New Zealand; the South Island. The Northern coast of the South Island is simply beautiful and you will be able to take it all in as you sit back and relax on the ferry through the picturesque Marlborough Sounds. There is a possibility today of having lunch at a vineyard in the wine growing region of Marlborough, before you make your way to the beautiful beachfront holiday town of Kaiteriteri, where you will spend the night.
This morning you will head to neighbouring Motueka, where you will be taken on an exhilarating helicopter tour up to the remarkable and remote rock formations and mountain tops of Mount Owen, used to portray scenes from “Dimrill Dale.” A gourmet lunch is provided at the top and then it’s back in the helicopter to fly over New Zealand’s largest natural sinkhole and beautiful Boulder Lake. Upon landing, you farewell the sunny north coast and head southwest, to the lush rainforest of the west coast. Upon arrival in Punakaiki, you will explore the pancake rocks and blowholes situated right next to the village; a bizarre, rugged, rocky landscape which impresses thousands of visitors each year with its powerful forces of nature.
Heading south down the West Coast Road; known by many as the most picturesque road in New Zealand, you will see rainforest and the shores of the Tasman Sea side by side, along with cliffs, waterfalls and green paddocks. At the end of all this, you will arrive at a Glacier! Franz Josef Glacier is unique in the fact that it terminates around 300m below sea level and the base is surrounded by rainforest. You can take a walk to the base of the glacier and look up to the rugged mountains where the Lighting of the Beacons took place. Tonight you have the opportunity to relax and unwind in the thermal hot springs located in native rainforest in Franz Josef Village. This afternoon or tomorrow morning you have the option of a helicopter flight over Franz Josef Glacier with a snow landing or a 3 hour heli-hike experience which includes a helicopter landing and guided walk through the crevasses of the glacier! (Optional – extra cost)
Today we take a journey south through the beautiful native forests, streams and mountains of the Haast Pass, as well as the huge gleaming blue waters of Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea, toward New Zealand’s adventure capital; Queenstown. First of all though, it is vital to stop along the way at any of the region’s breath-taking waterfalls and take in the sights and sounds of the centuries-old native forest which has been described by the Unesco World Heritage Organisation as being some of the most reminiscent of Gondwanaland found anywhere in the world. Also along the way is the picturesque lakeside holiday town of Wanaka. Looking across the lake, you will see the backdrop used for Gandalf’s flight to Rohan with Gwaihir, after his rescue from Orthanc. You also have the option today of either walking the Diamond Lake walking track to see this location up close, or we can pay a visit to Stuart Landsborough’s Puzzling World; home to the great 3-D maze, incredible illusion rooms, a puzzle centre and the “psychic challenge.” Following this, we will conquer New Zealand’s highest altitude highway and possibly stop in at one of New Zealand’s oldest pubs; the Cardrona Hotel for a drink. Once we make our descent down the mountain into Queenstown, you will be inescapably bombarded by familiar Lord of the Rings scenery, including the spectacular Remarkables Mountain Range, another of the unforgiving landscapes used to portray the journey through the slopes of Dimrill Dale.
Today you will be taken on a full day LOTR tour, entitled the “Safari of the Scenes,” which includes all the major film locations surrounding Queenstown, such as The Ford of Bruinen, the Gladden Fields, Pillars of the Kings, Amon Hen and the Ithilien camp! Dress up in a cloak and have a sword fight in the Lothlorien Forest! After you return in the afternoon, the rest of the day is free to spend as you wish.
Heading towards New Zealand’s tallest mountain, along the way you will stop for lunch at Amisfield Winery for a delicious 3 course trust the chef lunch. After this, you will enjoy a guided tour of the site of the largest battle scene filmed for the entire trilogy; The Pelennor Fields, before continuing on to Mount Cook Village, where you can spend a relaxing evening at the foot of New Zealand’s tallest mountain.
Today you head to our final destination on your epic journey through Middle Earth; Edoras! To get here, you will travel via the stunning electric blue Lakes Pukaki and Tekapo and then be shown around by the good folk at Hassle Free Tours. Following this tour, you will travel to Christchurch where you will spend the evening.
Today you will transfer to your onward travel arrangements. We trust that you have enjoyed your epic journey through Middle Earth with us!