A Journey Through Middle Earth New Zealand Tour

A More than 18 day trip to New Zealand 
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671 reviews

Breathtakingly beautiful, New Zealand delights the visitor with spectacular natural scenery. Amidst this wild and remote setting, enjoy the comforts of luxury bed and breakfasts, and upscale lodges. This itinerary takes you to the North and South Islands with many stops in the Lord of the Rings territory. Explore the capital city, awe-inspiring mountains, pristine lakes, untouched glaciers and remote fjords.

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General Information

Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Wellington, Fiordland National Park, Aukland, Rotorua, Tongariro National Park, Nelson, Mount Olympus, Abel Tasman National Park, Hokitika, Fox Glacier, Wanaka, Te Anau, Manapouri, Doubtful Sound, Queenstown, Mount Cook, Christchurch 

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1 - Depart for Auckland, New Zealand

Day 2 - Cross International Date Line

Day 3 - Arrive in Auckland, New Zealand

Arrive in New Zealand at Auckland airport. Upon arrival at the airport, you will be greeted by your driver who will provide a private transfer to your lodging at Cotter House, a luxury bed & breakfast in an elegant historic mansion. Enjoy your plush accommodations at this romantic hideaway close to downtown Auckland. With its own garden, swimming pool and spa, Cotter House is a special retreat that offers the charm of another era. 

What’s Included: transfer from Auckland airport to hotel, accommodations at the Cotter House

Day 4 - Auckland - Matamata - Rotorua 

Today you will pick up your rental car (or have it delivered) to begin your New Zealand road trip. Drive south from Auckland to Matamata in the Waikato Region (approximately 120 miles away). In Matamata, visit the original Hobbiton village movie set from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The remnants of the movie set are located at a picturesque private farmland property. Take a guided Hobbiton Movie Set Tour through the ten-acre site and learn fascinating details about how the Hobbiton set was created. After your tour, continue your journey south to Rotorua (approximately 50 miles away) where you will be staying at The Springs Bed and Breakfast. This charming guest house offers luxury accommodations with each room beautifully decorated in the English style. You’ll find fresh flowers in your room and luxury New Zealand wool duvets, plus all modern amenities including hairdryers, TV and free WiFi. The property also has a private terrace and flourishing rose garden. 

What’s Included: breakfast at Cotter House; rental car for the entire vacation; Hobbiton Movie Set Tour; accommodations at The Springs Bed & Breakfast

Day 5 - Leisure Day in Rotorua

Enjoy a free day of sightseeing at your leisure. You may like to visit the Maori Arts and Crafts Institute to learn about the arts and culture of the Maori people, whose ancestors have lived in this area for almost 700 years. We also recommend a tour of Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve, a living thermal village of erupting geothermal activity including natural hot spring and hot pools. Another idea: Rainbow Trout Springs, home to the endangered kiwi bird. The park has a nursery for the baby kiwis, where you can see these adorable creatures just after they’ve entered the world. Another favorite among visitors is the Agrodome Sheep Show, a live sheep show that features New Zealand’s 19 most popular sheep breeds, cow milking demonstration, sheep shearing and working sheep dogs displays. This is an award-winning show where you can even feed the baby lambs and watch a New Zealand sheep auction. 

What’s Included: gourmet breakfast; accommodations at The Springs Bed and Breakfast

Day 6 - Rotorua - Tongariro National Park 

Drive south from Rotorua via Lake Taupo to the Tongariro National Park (approximately 120 miles) to check into your hotel for the night, Bayview Chateau Tongariro in Whakapapa village. This elegant lodging was built in 1929 in the French chateau style. The hotel features an excellent choice of restaurants and bars and stunning views of the surrounding landscape and Mount Ngauruhoe. Enjoy an afternoon of leisure around the hotel. You could go hiking or mountain biking or simply relax at the hotel. You can also watch movies at the Chateau Cinema. 

What’s Included: gourmet breakfast at The Springs Bed & Breakfast; accommodations at Bayview Chateau Tongariro

Day 7 - Leisure Day at Tongariro National Park

Explore the unspoiled natural beauty of Tongariro National Park, New Zealand’s spectacular World Heritage site. Lush with rushing waterfalls, sparkling river pools and lakes, this magnificent national park invites you to boat, swim or simply picnic. Much of the Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed here. You can see many of the incredible locations used to film the Lord of the Rings. 

What’s Included: accommodations at Bayview Chateau Tongariro

Day 8 - Tongariro National Park - Wellington

This morning, you’ll leave Tongariro National Park and drive further south (approximately 200 miles) to Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand. Upon arrival, check into your lodging for night at Carlton Gore Bed & Breakfast. This stylish accommodation is located close to Wellington and features stunning sea views. With its grand floor plan, high ceilings and separate dining and living rooms, this 1900s home offers the luxury of a boutique hotel. Spend the afternoon at leisure and enjoy dinner at one of Wellington’s renowned gourmet restaurants. Wellington is a culinary capital in New Zealand and is well-known for its variety of cafes and restaurants. 

What’s Included: accommodations at Carlton Gore Bed & Breakfast

Day 9 - Leisure Day at Wellington 

Enjoy a half-day guided tour of Lord of the Rings sights in Wellington. Many film locations are easily accessible within walking distance of the city center or a short drive away. Your expert guide will take you to set locations including Rivendell, the Anduin River, Amon Hen, the Gardens of Isengard and Helms Deep. You can also visit Mount Victoria, the summit in the centre of the city that was turned into Outer Shire and Embassy Theatre, location of the premiere of the Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers.  Even though the sets have been removed, it’s still easy to image the fictional story that was filmed here. For dinner, try a new amazing selection of gourmet restaurants. 

What’s Included: breakfast, accommodations at Carlton Gore Bed & Breakfast

Day 10 - Wellington - Nelson

In the morning, drop off your rental car and take the ferry across Cook Strait to Picton, where you’ll pick up another rental car. Drive to the Nelson region (approximately 70 miles). Upon arrival in Richmond, check into at your lodging at Kershaw House. This luxury bed & breakfast is a 4-star accommodation in a registered historic 1920s home located amidst beautiful rolling hills and vineyards. The afternoon is at your leisure. You can visit nearby boutique wineries or stroll along art trails. You may also want to visit Jens Hansen Gold & Silversmith, the family jewelry workshop that made One Ring for the film The Lord of the Rings. You can even see on display one of the original rings from the movie.

What’s Included: breakfast, ferry ride, accommodations at Kershaw House Bed & Breakfast

Day 11 - Optional Helicopter Tour of Mount Olympus

Today is at your leisure for optional sightseeing. We recommend the Mount Olympus helicopter tour, which takes you to a site that is extremely remote, spectacularly beautiful and almost surreal in its unique topography. The formidable Mount Olympus features rocky outcrops that have been eroded over time to form incredible columnar shapes. These eccentric rock formations were used to depicted the South of Rivendell location in the Lord of the Rings where it’s mostly rugged.

What’s Included: breakfast, accommodations at Kershaw House Bed & Breakfast

Day 12 - Leisure Day to Visit Abel Tasman National Park

Today is a free day to explore the natural sites around the Nelson region. You can take a scenic self-guided driving tour of nearby Abel Tasman National Park, famous for its sandy beaches, cliffs of granite and the popular Abel Tasman Coast Track. Thanks to its mild climate, Abel Tasman National Park is a great place to see at any time of the year. Another option is to journey out to Farewell Spit, located at the tip of the South Island. You can take a guided nature tour of this world recognized bird sanctuary. Other attractions in the area include an old lighthouse and seal colonies.

What’s Included: breakfast, accommodations at Kershaw House Bed & Breakfast

Day 13 - Nelson - Hokitika 

Start out in the morning from Collingwood to Motueka to Murchison and finally to Hokitika. You can either drive via Westport (approximately 250 miles) or by Reefton (approximately 235 miles). If you drive the longer route via Westport, there is the option to see the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks, the most spectacular site in the Putai area. This surreal scenery was formed 30 million years ago as a result of immense water pressure and gradually seismic action. We also recommend a sightseeing stop at the Glowworm Caves, which are magically illuminated by millions of tiny glow worms. The Nile River Rainforest Train travels through the aboriginal rain forest to the vast Nile River Caves, where you can explore an ancient wonderland of spikes and pillars. When you arrive in Hokitika, check into your hotel. You’ll be staying at Kapitea Ridge, an upscale boutique lodge on the rugged West Coast of the South Island. This special location offers tranquility and relaxation amidst pristine nature. 

What’s Included: breakfast, accommodations at Kapitea Ridge Lodge

Day 14 - Hokitika - Fox Glacier 

In the early morning, drive down the West Coast (approximately 130 miles) to Fox Glacier where you can experience a guided walking tour. We recommend a gentle half-day guided walk. Your guide gives you suitable gear and then leads you on the walk, by climbing up ice steps amongst crevasses and ice ridges, until you reach a spectacular viewpoint of the icefall and lower glacier. If you’re feeling more adventurous, go on a full-day 6-hour walk that takes you on a trekking expedition through the dramatic terrain of ice pinnacles and spectacular seracs. The full-day walk includes lunch at a peaceful, secluded location. After a day of outdoor adventure, you’ll appreciate the comforts of your lodging at Te Weheka Inn located at the center of the Fox Glacier township. In this quiet and remote setting, the inn offers spacious rooms with balconies and all the modern amenities including Sky TV and Internet connection. 

What’s Included: breakfast, accommodations at Fox Glacier Te Weheka Inn

Day 15 - Fox Glacier - Wanaka

This morning you’ll leave Fox Glacier and drive via Haast Pass to Wanaka (approximately 178 miles). When you reach the Wanaka waterfront, stop to take in the panoramic view. At the end of the lake, looking to the Alps, you’ll see the backdrop used to film Gandalf flying to Rohan with Gwaihir. Continue your drive to your hotel for the night, Wanaka Springs Lodge, a boutique bed & breakfast with kiwi hospitality. This lodge was constructed from local timbers and schist stone, and your room has its own deck or courtyard with panoramic views. Enjoy free WiFi and complimentary social hour with drinks and snacks. In the afternoon, explore the area’s inspiring mountain landscape. Take a short drive to Rippon Vineyard for a scenic nature walk along the lakeside trail with views of Ruby Island, the site of cabarets in the 1930s. 

What’s Included: breakfast, accommodations at Wanaka Springs Lodge

Day 16 - Half-Day Jet-Boating Adventure in Wanaka

Set off for a half-day adventure of wilderness jet boating. This exhilarating sport gives you a chance to take in the region’s spectacular scenery. You’ll travel past towering mountains, rushing waterfalls and hidden Lord of the Rings film locations. Enjoy the splendor of this untouched nature site. You’ll jet through the rushing fresh-water river, which is fed by melted ice from the nearby glaciers. 

What’s Included: breakfast, accommodations at Wanaka Springs Lodge

Day 17 - Wanaka - Te Anau - Manapouri - Doubtful Sound

In the morning, drive from Wanaka to Manapouri to board the Fiordland Navigator cruise ship at Pearl Harbour Wharf. You will leave your rental car at the Visitor Center and then check in to begin your “Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise.” Sail across the pristine waters of Lake Manapouri then hop on a coach that will drive you through the alpine route of Wilmot Pass, traveling into some of Fiordland's densest rainforest. Enjoy a relaxed exploration of Deep Cove, part of the World Heritage-listed Doubtful Sound. Breathe in the awe-inspiring peacefulness and beauty of this untouched nature site. On your cruise, you’ll see waterfalls, rainforest, mountains and wildlife—including dolphins, seals and penguins. A delightful dinner is served on board and comfortable accommodations are provided in a private cabin. 

What’s Included: Doubtful Sound overnight cruise with dinner and lodging

Note: The cruise does not operate from mid-May to September 30th. During this time, the itinerary will include a full-day Doubtful Sound cruise with picnic lunch and lodging at Te Anau.

Day 18 - Doubtful Sound - Manapouri - Queenstown 

Enjoy a delicious breakfast on your overnight cruise (or at the hotel - for tours between mid-May and September 30th). After breakfast, you’ll further explore Doubtful Sound before returning to Deep Cove. The cruise concludes before noon. Then you’ll return to Manapouri Wharf and make your way to Queenstown (approximately 115 miles). Check into your lodging for the night at Browns Boutique Hotel. This charming European style hotel offers a wonderful quiet, central location and genuine New Zealand hospitality. Your spacious room includes a super-king-sized bed or two twin beds, flatscreen HDTV, DVD player and complimentary WiFi. Enjoy your own private Juliet balcony with lovely views of the town, lake and mountains. 

What’s Included: breakfast, accommodations at Browns Boutique Hotel

Day 19 - Safari of the Scenes Wakatipu Basin Tour in Queenstown

Today go to the heart of the Lord of the Rings with a full-day adventure to the scenes on a 4X4. This extensive guided tour takes you deep into New Zealand’s countryside, the epitome of the sublime Middle Earth scenery of Tolkien’s imagination. See the place up close and take in the spectacular diversity of the scenery. The tour is based around many of the exact filming locations such as the Amon Hen summit and the Road to Mordor. 

What’s Included: breakfast, accommodations at Browns Boutique Hotel

Day 20 - Queenstown - Mount Cook 

This morning, you will have free time for an optional helicopter tour. From the helicopter, you will see lush locations filmed for many movie settings. The 2 1/2 hour helicopter tour includes at least one landing at an isolated location. From Queenstown, drive (approx. 160 miles) to the alpine village of Mount Cook located within Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, a World Heritage area. Surrounded by the splendor of the Southern Alps, this tranquil setting will provide a restful night’s sleep. Check into your hotel, The Hermitage where you’ll be staying in a Premium Room, featuring a stunning view of Mount Cook. 

What’s Included: breakfast accommodations at The Hermitage Hotel

Day 21 - Mount Cook - Christchurch

This morning, take time to discover Mount Cook located in the heart of New Zealand’s most remarkable mountains, the Southern Alps. At 3764 meters above sea level, Mount Cook is New Zealand’s highest peak. One of the most spectacular features of this area is the gigantic Tasman Glacier, which is 18 miles long and almost 2 miles across at the broadest point. We also recommend visiting the Hochstetter Ice Fall at Tasman Glacier for spectacular snowy scenery. You can choose to take a guided walking tour for the best appreciation of the landscapes and glacier scenery. Drive from Mount Cook through the Canterbury Plains (approximately 200 miles) to Christchurch. Spend your last night in New Zealand at the Elm Tree House Bed & Breakfast, a 5-star accommodation located less than two miles away from Christchurch city center. 

What’s Included: lodging at Elm Tree House Bed & Breakfast

Day 22 - Christchurch - Depart for Home

Your tour concludes upon returning your vehicle to the Christchurch airport rental car drop-off. Depart Christchurch for your return flight home, via Auckland.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer to airport

For more tour options, please see the New Zealand travel agency section on Zicasso.


Starting Price 

This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.