A self-drive luxury tour of New Zealand's breathtaking natural landscapes and Lord of the Rings filming locations.

Tolkien fans and film enthusiasts will be dazzled by the spectacular Middle Earth scenery, from the rolling hills of Hobbiton to the dramatic sites of Mordor and Mount Doom, on this tailor made New Zealand Lord of the Rings tour.

You'll traverse extraordinary landscapes, stay in luxury accommodation and visit LOTR-themed attractions, following in the footsteps of Frodo on your journey of exclusive film location tours, as part of your Lord of the Rings self-drive adventure.

New Zealand Lord of the Rings Tour Itinerary

Begin this 19-day self-drive suggested itinerary with a tranquil night in Cambridge, a glow worm cave tour in Waitomo and a private guided tour of the enchanting Hobbiton Movie Set in Rotorua.

Next is an action-packed day in Taupo, with a private tour of Wai-O-Tapu’s Thermal Wonderland, a jetboat ride at Huka Falls and a meeting with a Maori master carver with a special Powhiri (Maori welcome).

Arrive in Tongariro, where you’ll spend two days navigating the spectacular Tongariro National Park, a treasure trove of Lord of the Rings film locations.

Continue to Wellington, where you’ll take a privately guided tour of Weta Workshop and roam Middle Earth on a film locations tour, then travel to Nelson for the ultimate Lord of the Rings helicopter expedition.

Venture on to Lake Heron, where you’ll stay at an authentic high country working farm, then move onto Queenstown for an unforgettable two days including a Lord of the Rings Adventure Safari, helicopter tour and Milford Sound nature cruise.

End your adventure in Auckland, a lively city brimming with world-class wining and dining, and blissful ocean views.

This New Zealand Lord of the Rings tour is the ultimate way to immerse yourself in the magical world of Middle Earth and explore some of the best natural beauty the country has to offer.

What's Included:

  • Accommodation as stated
  • Private chauffeur airport transfers
  • Meals and drinks mentioned in full itinerary
  • Domestic flights
  • Car hire: Toyota Rav 4 or similar including unlimited kilometres
  • Domestic flights
  • One-way ferry crossing
  • Private Footwhistle Glowworm Cave Tour
  • Private Tour of Hobbiton Movie Set
  • Wai-O-Tapu admission and private guide
  • Hukafalls Jet
  • Powhiri in Taupo at a local Marae
  • Full Day Private LOTR Tour including lunch
  • Private Weta Workshop Tour including effects workshop and two-course lunch
  • Middle Earth Filming Locations Tour
  • The Ultimate Lord of the Rings Combo Tour plus Salisbury Falls add-on
  • Safari of The Scenes Wakatipu Basin
  • Private LOTR Helicopter Tour
  • The Milford Sound Experience Full Day private guided tour
  • Milford Sound Nature Cruise

Trip Itinerary


Days 1 - 3: Cambridge & Rotorua

Day 1 - Arrival in Auckland & Transfer to Cambridge

You’ll fly into Auckland airport where you’ll pick up your hire car and begin the two hour drive to Cambridge. Your New Zealand Lord of the Rings tour begins!

You’ll be staying at Huntington Stables Retreat, a luxury lodging nestled within peaceful farmland and native bush. The property features two self-contained luxury lodges containing a fully-equipped kitchen and sumptuous bedroom, bathroom, lounge and dining areas. Each lodge also has a private deck with beautiful views overlooking the surrounding hills.

With a swimming pool, hot spa, and sauna to enjoy, Huntington Stables is the perfect hideaway to spend an evening relaxing in luxury.

Day 2 - Exploring Glow Worm Caves & Transfer to Rotorua

Enjoy a cooked breakfast this morning before departing Cambridge and making the one-hour drive to Caveworld in Waitomo.

There, you’ll take a short shuttle and walk through the beautiful native bush to begin a private one-hour tour of Footwhistle Glowworm Cave, also known to local Maori as Te Anaroa Cave. Your expert guide will take you on an intimate journey, lighting candles in the cave to create a magical atmosphere, as you gaze at the glowworms up close.

Your cave tour ends at lunchtime, so you may wish to stop at Huhu Cafe for lunch and explore Waitomo before making the two-hour drive to your hotel in Rotorua.

You’ll be staying at the Regent of Rotorua Boutique Hotel & Spa, a luxury hotel in the heart of town with stylish suites and an exceptional a la carte restaurant. Enjoy the outdoor heated swimming pool or soak in the mineral pool as you unwind for the evening.

Day 3 - Private Tour of Hobbiton

After breakfast, you’ll be transferred to The Shires Rest, around a one-hour drive away. Here, you’ll embark on your private tour of Hobbiton, including an exploration of the Hobbiton Movie Set featured in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies.

Go behind the scenes with a stunning drive through the rolling hills of a 1250-acre sheep farm. You’ll gaze out at the magical views over the Kaimai Ranges, before arriving at the 12-acre set, strewn with original movie structures.

Explore Hobbit holes, Green Dragon Inn and roam across the double arch stone bridge where the mill sits on the riverbank. See the iconic bright circular doors tucked into the hillside. Your expert guide will reveal the secrets of the Shire, sharing all the amazing details of how this gorgeous Waikato farmland was transformed into the Shire.

As your Hobbiton tour comes to an end, you’ll be taken to the Party Marquee for a Marquee Festive Feast. The colourful marquee is themed with the festive magic of the films and it’s the perfect place to enjoy a delicious lunch with views overlooking the beautiful film set.

After lunch, your guide will take you back to Rotorua, where you can spend a relaxing evening at your leisure.


Days 4 - 6: Tongariro

Day 4 - Exploring Taupo & Transfer to Tongariro

Enjoy a cooked breakfast before checking out of your hotel and making the 30-minute drive to Wai-O-Tapu.

You’ll embark on a privately guided tour of Wai-O-Tapu’s Thermal Wonderland, an ancient volcanic landscape of mystical geysers and billowing blowholes.

Continue your journey with a 30-minute drive to Huka Falls, where you’ll depart on an exhilarating jetboat ride. Get up close to the magnificent Huka Falls, as you whirl through the churning waters at a heart-pumping 80 kilometres an hour.

There’s time for lunch in Taupo before taking a quick 10-minute drive to the ancestral house of Te Rangiita Marae. You’ll be met by Delani Brown for a special Powhiri (Maori welcome). Delani is the master carver of his Tuwharetoa tribe, second only to the chief and the guardian of traditions. His gentle, spiritual nature will warm you as he shares his fascinating stories.

After your Powhiri experience, make the 1.5-hour drive to Tongariro. You’ll arrive at Bayview Chateau Tongariro, a luxury chateau nestled within the stunning mountain peaks of the Tongariro National Park. Set on the forested tribal land gifted to the country in 1887, the hotel honours its heritage with a commitment to cultural and environmental conservation.

A monkey's face is etched into a rock.

Day 5 - Explore Film Locations in Tongariro National Park

Enjoy a cooked breakfast before getting picked up for your privately guided Lord of the Rings tour.

The tour includes lunch, as well as outdoor clothing and footwear (if required), and there are a range of options to choose from.

You can spend the day walking and driving around Tongariro National Park to see a variety of LOTR film locations. Take a short walk at the start of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing to see Mount Ngauruhoe, otherwise known as Mount Doom. Visit Whakapapa Ski Field to see Meads Wall, the site where Frodo and Sam catch Gollum and where Isildur cuts off Sauron’s finger.

Visit Tukino Ski Field of the Rangipo Desert, the site where Frodo, Sam and Gollum look out over the Gates of Mordor. Take a short walk along the Mangawhero River Track, where Gollum catches a fish, and Frodo and Sam pass through a clearing.

You could also choose the all-day hike to the peak of Mount Ngauruhoe (Mount Doom) to throw the one ring into it. The hike is a very steep walk up volcanic terrain, however those who take the challenge will be rewarded with a spectacular view of the iconic Red Crater and Emerald Lakes of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.

Day 6 - Exploring Tongariro National Park & Transfer to Turangi

In the morning, you’ll have time to continue exploring film locations around Tongariro National Park. Another option is to take the 1.5 to 2-hour Taranaki Falls Walk. No Lord of the Rings filming was done here, but it’s a popular track with beautiful scenery.

In the afternoon, you’ll make the 40-minute drive to Turangi. You’ll be staying at River Birches Lodge, a luxury lodge accommodation set on the banks of the Tongariro River. You will stay in the Cottage, a three-bedroom, self-contained lodge, complete with a modern kitchen, stylish furnishings and a large wooden deck to enjoy the tranquil surroundings.

Days 7 - 9: Wellington

Day 7 - Transfer to Wellington

This morning, enjoy your complimentary breakfast provisions in your self-catered kitchen, before making the five-hour drive to Wellington.

You will travel with an expert local guide who will make some special stops along the way. Visit Kaitoke Regional Park, Upper Hutt to visit the film location for Rivendell, home of the Elves. There’s an elvish archway and lots of information panels to immerse yourself in this enchanting site.

On arrival in Wellington, you’ll check into the Novotel Wellington, a four-star hotel located in the heart of the city. The afternoon is yours to explore the capital city of New Zealand, with a range of attractions on offer. See Te Papa Tongarewa, the country’s national museum and the most visited museum in Australasia, brimming with national treasures, .


Day 8 - Weta Workshop Experience

After breakfast, make the 25-minute drive to Weta Workshop for a privately guided tour. You’ll see original props and costumes that have been made for a range of world-famous films over the years, and learn about the history of the workshop and their crafting process.

You’ll take a chainmaille workshop, as this is the site where many chainmaille suits were made for The Lord of the Rings. You can even try your hand at assembling some chainmaille to take home.

At the end of the tour, head out for a leisurely lunch and spend the afternoon exploring the vibrant city of Wellington.

Walk along the waterfront to find the Museum of Wellington City and Sea, or take a 15-minute drive north of the CBD to visit Pataka, a fantastic showcase of Maori, Pacific Island, Asian and international contemporary art and culture.

Day 9 - Explore Middle Earth

Enjoy an early breakfast this morning before being picked up from your hotel by a guide from Flat Earth New Zealand Experiences. You’ll be taken on a wonderful half-day Middle Earth film locations tour.

Join a small group and an expert guide, leaving the city behind to explore the stunning natural scenery of the region. You’ll see the sites of the Great River Anduin, the Gardens of Isengard and visit Kaitoke Regional Park, an enchanting rainforest better known as the site of Rivendell, where you can follow in the footsteps of Elrond and Arwen

Enjoy some refreshments before visiting the quarry used for Helm’s Deep and Minas Tirith. You’ll then wind your way up Mount Victoria, stopping to see the Outer Shire, the site where the four hobbits raced to the buckleberry ferry and the site where Aragorn and Theoden watched over their soldiers.

Wellington. You’ll be returned to your hotel and the rest of the day is yours to spend relaxing or exploring the city.

Day 10: Nelson

Day 10 - Ferry to Picton & Transfer to Nelson

After breakfast, check out of your hotel and head to the Wellington Interislander Ferry Terminal, where you’ll depart on a ferry to Picton. Breakfast is included this morning at your hotel. Enjoy the 3.5-hour cruise across the Cook Strait between the North and South Islands, before arriving in Picton and transferring to Nelson, a two-hour drive away.

You’ll be staying at Rutherford Hotel, a luxury hotel in a premier location, steps away from Nelson’s cathedral and the heart of town.

In the afternoon, you’ll take the short walk to Jens Hansen Goldsmiths, the Ringmaker Store and Workshop. Jens Hansen Goldsmiths are the designers and makers of the ring used in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films. They cannot always allow people into the workshop, however we do make a special request, and if possible you will enjoy a workshop tour on the day.

Day 11: Kaikoura

Day 11 - Ultimate Lord of the Rings Helicopter Tour & Transfer to Kaikoura

After breakfast you’ll check out of your hotel and head to Reid Helicopters Base, a 30-minute drive away. You’ll be taken on a three-hour Ultimate Lord of the Rings tour including a helicopter flight and a visit to Salisbury Falls.

Beginning with a flight into Golden Bay to land on Mount Olympus, you’ll explore the location of the South of Rivendell, before flying towards Mt Owen. Marvel at the dramatic, unspoilt terrain of Kahurangi National Park below, as you land to view the site of the exit from the Mines of Moria.

Next, you’ll visit Salisbury Falls in the Aorere River, located at the start of the Kahurangi National Park’s Heaphy Track; the site where Tauriel and Legolas meet before heading into Lake-town. The return flight takes you across spectacular views of Tasman Bay, before landing back in Nelson.

You’ll then transfer to Kaikoura, which is around a four-hour drive. You’ll be staying at The White Morph, a luxury hotel set on the Esplanade of Kaikoura with striking views across the ocean.


Day 12 - Scenic Drive to Lake Heron

After breakfast, you’ll depart Kaikoura and make the five-hour scenic drive to Lake Heron Station.

Take in the beautiful scenery as you drive through winding farmlands and mountain ranges. Lake Heron Station is an authentic high country working sheep farm, set in a secluded location in the Southern Alps. This is an incredible ‘off-the-beaten-track’ experience, where you’ll immerse in New Zealand’s high country life first-hand.

You’ll stay in a charming self-contained, three-bedroom cottage on a 43,000-acre station with views of snowy mountains, tree-lined valleys and the magical Lake Heron. Enjoy a complimentary bottle of wine in your outdoor bath, soaking under the stars in a truly unique and tranquil landscape.

Day 13: Lake Tekapo

Day 13: Exploring Lake Heron & Transfer to Lake Tekapo

Enjoy breakfast in your cottage, then spend the morning exploring the area with a local guide.

Visit Mount Sunday, a spectacular peak carved by glaciers with views of the Rangitata River. Set in the Haketere Conservation Park, the mountain got its name from the high country boundary riders who would meet at the mountain on Sundays. It’s also the film location for Edoras in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.

There are plenty of walks to enjoy and the glimmering Lake Heron is only a 1.5-hour drive away. Around mid-afternoon, you will depart for Lake Tekapo, which is a three-hour drive.

You’ll be staying at Peppers Bluewater Resort, a secluded hotel set in the heart of Mackenzie Country, a truly beautiful region. Adventure seekers can go kayaking, trout fishing, horse riding or enjoy the nearby snowfields. Those wanting to relax can have a round of mini golf, soak in nearby hot springs, or go star gazing at Mount John.


Days 14 - 17: Queenstown

Day 14 - Transfer to Queenstown

After breakfast, you’ll depart Lake Tekapo and make the three-hour drive to Queenstown.

You’ll be staying at The Rees Hotel & Luxury Apartments, a fantastic property with a range of accommodation options, including five luxurious lakeside private residences with stunning views across Lake Wakatipu and The Remarkables mountain range.

Enjoy your evening exploring the wonderful facilities of the hotel, including a fine dining restaurant featuring delicious menus created by an award-winning chef and premium wines from Central Otago, an award-winning wine cellar.

There’s also a private wharf, a library, gym and a courtesy shuttle that makes the 10-minute drive into the centre of Queenstown. If you prefer to go on foot, the city centre is a leisurely 30-minute walk.

Day 15 - The Lord of the Rings Adventure Safari

Enjoy breakfast at your hotel and prepare for an action-packed day of adventure.

This morning, you’ll be picked up at your hotel by Nomad Safaris for an adventure safari across the stunning scenery of Queenstown and Arrowtown. You’ll enjoy exhilarating 4WD river crossings, learn about the history of gold mining and visit Lord of the Rings film locations including Minas Tirith, Misty Mountains, the site of Isildur’s Fall, the Ford of Bruinen and the Pillars of the Kings.

You’ll be dropped at your hotel at lunchtime for a quick pit stop, before getting picked up again for your Lord of the Rings Highlights Flight. You’ll enjoy the scenic drive to Glenorchy, the site of Isengard, while the helicopter flight will take you on a spectacular path over Cecil Peak Ledge (with views towards 12 Mile Delta (Ithilien camp), Skippers Range (Arwen), the Rees Valley (Lothorien Woods) and Earnslaw Burn (Rivendell). You’ll also experience two landings at Cecil Peak Ledge and Rees Valley, offering spectacular photo opportunities.

You’ll return in the evening to your hotel in Queenstown.

Day 16 - Milford Sound Cruise & Road Tour

After an early breakfast, you’ll be picked up at your hotel for a privately guided tour through Milford Sound. This full-day tour is packed with stops, including visits to the Anduin River and Dead Marshes (time permitting).

You’ll experience your road tour from the comfort of a luxury vehicle, including an expert driver and guide, plus bottled water.

The day also includes a two-hour Milford Sound Nature Cruise, where you’ll cruise past a magical waterfall to see dolphins, seals and the rare Fiordland crested penguins. Enjoy a picnic lunch amongst the breathtaking fiords.

You’ll return to your hotel in Queenstown in the evening.


Day 17 - Exploring Queenstown

The day is yours to explore the Queenstown area, and there’s plenty to do.

Spend the morning on the 1.5-kilometre Queenstown Hill Time Walk, which leads to stunning panoramic views over the region. Take the 45-minute scenic drive to Glenorchy, a picturesque town with a great hiking trail around Lake Sylvan, or hop on a winery tour to sample the region’s world-class wine.

Thrill-seekers can try sky diving, bungy jumping, canyoning, zip-ling, rafting, paragliding, heli-mountain biking, fly fishing… the possibilities are endless! You can also head up to the Skyline Gondola for amazing views over the city.

Have lunch at Amisfield Winery, a beautiful stone restaurant overlooking a breathtaking landscape of vineyards and rugged mountains, with a delicious menu created by an award-winning chef.

Unwind in the afternoon with a magical experience at the Onsen Hot Pools. Sip champagne and relax in the natural hot pools as you take in the stunning views of the Shotover River canyon.

Days 18 - 19: Auckland

Day 18 - Transfer to Auckland

After breakfast, you’ll be picked up from your hotel and transferred to Queenstown Airport. You’ll board a flight to Auckland, where you’ll be met by a private driver and transferred to your hotel.

You’ll be staying at the Hilton Hotel, a famous luxury hotel renowned for its excellent service and fantastic facilities. Located on the waterfront in the heart of the city, you’ll enjoy the stunning ocean views and the five-minute walk to the Viaduct Harbour, home to a lively selection of over 30 waterfront restaurants and bars. Spend your last night indulging in the world-class wining and dining of Auckland.

Day 19 - Departure from Auckland

Enjoy one last full buffet breakfast at the Hilton Auckland, before being collected from the hotel and transferred to Auckland International Airport.

Your luxury Lord of the Rings New Zealand tour has sadly come to an end, but we hope you’ll be leaving with lifelong memories of a spectacular country and a deeper admiration for the captivating filming locations used in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films.

From the breathtaking landscapes and incredible movie sets, to the exclusive behind-the-scenes details and workshop tours, you’ll have experienced a truly unique adventure holiday.


Interested in this trip?

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Why Wayfairer

As with all Wayfairer holidays, this introduction to New Zealand has been put together with the aim of benefiting local communities, as well as the natural environment.

All the local guides referred to in this itinerary are paid a fair wage, we only recommend accommodation options with responsible initiatives and our tours have a strong focus on environmental responsibility.

This Lord of the Rings New Zealand tour features a special cultural experience with a meeting with a Maori master carver and a Powhiri (Maori Welcome). This itinerary includes a stay in a luxury chateau which honours it’s tribal lands and is committed to cultural and environmental conservation, plus you’ll also experience a stay at an authentic high country working farm.


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