New Zealand: a land of volcanoes on the edge of the world. The dramatic variety of landscapes and climates made New Zealand the perfect place for Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, as well as a favorite among our Travel Experts. Explore the rocks and reefs, forests and fjords of the South Island, via Rohan, Isengard, and Mordor. Head to the North Island, towards the Shire, and finish your tour with a mug of ale in Hobbiton after your epic adventure.
Start your tour of Middle Earth in Christchurch, “the Garden City”. Relax in the lush green spaces of the Botanic Garden, whose fragrant walkways and manicured borders feel like Rivendell come to life. From Christchurch, jump straight into the lands of Rohan on Mount Sunday. This beautiful mountain’s rich moorland was the perfect place to film Edoras, capital of Rohan and seat of King Théoden.
Move on to Twizel, a small town in the Mackenzie District. You’ll recognise the sweeping open grassland of the area as the filming location for the climactic Battle of Pelennor Fields, where Gondor was saved. Wander the ridge behind the fields and gaze down on the open grassland, before heading north to Lake Pukaki, whose powder-blue color comes from microscopic particles of rock suspended in the water.
Dunedin is the Gaelic name for Edinburgh, and the similarities with its northern hemisphere counterpart don’t end there—with neighborhood names such as Waverley and Musselburgh, the entire city has a Caledonian flavor. Don’t miss Larnach Castle, built in the Scottish Baronial style in 1874, before heading into the city center to see the First Church of Otago, whose gothic spire was inspired by the great cathedrals of England.
4. Te Anau
To the north of the Fiordland National Park lies Lake Te Anau, where still waters reflect the snow-capped peaks in the distance. In the Te Anau-au caves, the caverns are alive with glowworms—an ethereal sight that rivals anything Tolkien has to offer. Back in the light of day, take a canoe around the peaceful inlets of the lake, disturbed only by the sound of your paddle breaking the surface.
From Queenstown, you’ll quickly check off a list of Middle Earth locations. The tour to rule them all, you’ll see the breathtaking views along the shore of Lake Wakatipu into Paradise Valley over two exhilarating days. You’ll recognise these locations as Isengard, Lothlorien, Minas Tirith, and the Misty Mountains—to name but a few. So jump in your 4x4, don your Mithril, and dive into this incredible tour of Middle Earth.
6. Franz Josef Glacier
It’s difficult to put the majesty of Franz Josef into words. Take a helicopter trip to this 7.5 mile stretch of blue ice, gliding through the valleys of the Southern Alps mountains via an enormous snowfield. Land on the ice, where the chilled air will fill your lungs and energize you—on a vacation packed with incredible landscapes and lifelong memories, Franz Josef still manages to stand out.
Hokitika sits on the breezy west coast of the South Island, home to the New Zeadlander’s namesake: the Kiwi. Head to the National Kiwi Centre, the epicenter of the efforts to save the endangered bird. Surprisingly, this center is also home to a population of giant eels, which you can feed. These alien-like beasts live for up to 100 years and are stranger than most of the monsters of Middle Earth.
8. Abel Tasman National Park
Abel Tasman straddles the peninsula between Golden Bay and Tasman Bay, on the north coast of the south island. Hike through lush forests and past mossy waterfalls towards the coast, where the park’s golden beaches and small islands will fill up your camera roll. Find a shady inlet for a swim in the green water, before heading back to the beach for a sunset barbecue in this coastal paradise.
Take the relaxing ferry to Wellington, your first stop on the North Island and New Zealand’s capital. While in this beautiful city, take a tour of the Weta Workshop, a must see on any Lord of the Rings itinerary. Tour the workshop, encountering models of Orcs, Uruk-Hai, and Ents, and meet with real artists going about their work. This incredible workshop is where Middle Earth came to life.
On this tour, you’ve visited Ōtautahi and Tāhuna without even knowing it—they’re the Māori names for Christchurch and Queenstown. At Rotorua, dive into the history and culture of New Zealand’s native tribes, here long before western powers arrived in the 18th century. Explore the erupting geysers of the Te Whakarewarewa Valley, before enjoying something really special: the Te Po, a sacred Māori social event, where ancient tales are told around the fire.
Finish your tour in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, for the icing on the cake of your Lord of the Rings tour: Hobbiton. As you walk through the Shire, you’ll be given a detailed tour through the making of the Lord of the Rings trilogy in Bag End, before unwinding with a pint of ale in the Green Dragon—a fitting way to end your Middle Earth tour following in Frodo and Sam’s footsteps.
Combined, our team of Travel Experts have:
Tailored more than 10,000 dream vacations
Visited more than 100 countries
More than 35 nationalities
Offset more than 40,000 tons of CO2
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