Auckland, Rotorua, Wellington, Queenstown
Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
Your 13-day New Zealand Tour has you explore the culture and landscape in a way only Tolkien could have imagined and Peter Jackson could have captured, on this ultimate Lord of the Rings adventure. Lush hills roll over hobbit-holes. The all-seeing Eye of Mordor burns in the distance, magma bubbling below. Welcome to Middle Earth, where the majesty of the Lord of the Rings films come alive.
Auckland - Welcome to Middle Earth
Arrive in Auckland, New Zealand and say hello to the borders of Middle Earth. The beauty of New Zealand casts spells over visitors and locals alike, written in the mountains, stored in the water, and seen in the sky. The “City of Sails,” is New Zealand’s largest city where sails float over the water like clouds adding to the majesty of an already captivating country. Settle into the outskirts of Middle Earth and prepare yourself for the adventurous journey to come, where there is more to desire than just “the one ring.”
Today you will take the ferry and cross a small sliver of ocean heading to Waihike Island. Explore the island on a guided tour, experiencing the diverse beauty of Waiheke. The cool breeze blows across-shore and through the trees. The smell of vineyards drifts along the hills. The sun is warm and inviting in the sky. Traverse the Awaawaroa Trig Hill Track and enter a quiet valley hidden in the shadows of the island’s highest mountain. The smell of the sea merges with the unique flowers that bloom along the walkway.
On the Awaawaroa Bay Lookout you can see the hills roll out onto the water. The water is a clear blue in the sunlight. The landscape is lush, shining various shades of green. As the sun begins to set over the ocean and the deep red glows along the shore, you know you are becoming a part of Tolkien’s world.
Rotorua - Enter the Shire
Today you will depart Auckland and make your way to Hobbiton, a private farm home to the Shire. Rebuilt and used for The Hobbit trilogy as well, walking into Hobbiton is more than just visiting the Shire; it is walking directly into Tolkien’s imagination. Hobbit-holes are carved into the lush hills, their wooden frames blend organically into the landscape, the circular doors colorfully and centrally placed. The air is perfumed with sweet, fresh grass and newly-blossomed flowers. The double-arched bridge glides over the water. The Green Dragon Inn stands elegantly, its interior emitting freshly poured ale and lacquered wood. The green dragon adorns the bar, swirling around the façade with a slight smile. Linger amongst Tolkien’s world come to life before departing for Waitomo Caves.
The Waitomo Caves are natural caves that plunge deep into the King Country region. The air is damp. The sound of trickling water echoes along the walls. You drift along the river expecting to see Gollum climbing along the cavern’s edge, but you see a collection of lights in the distance. Glowworms speckle the cave giving the grotto twinkles of blue radiance in the darkness. Draped along the cave’s walls and ceiling, the glowworms add a galaxy of light to the darkness of the cave. The Waitomo Caves are like something out of Tolkien’s imagination or Peter Jackson’s cinematography, but carved into the earth these caves take you beyond the creative realm of The Lord of the Rings and into the breathtaking eccentricity of reality. Once you exit Waitomo you will continue on to Rotorua where your luxurious accommodation awaits.
Rotorua - Journey Through the Valleys
Begin your day by venturing out into the incredible sites of Rotorua that will bring you deeper into Middle Earth on your way to Mordor. Tour the incredible thermal wonderland of Waiotapu. The Champagne Pool, known for its abundant outward flow of carbon dioxide, has a craggy, briny surrounding that gives way to a cracked, orange shore that reaches the smoldering green water. The simmering sound of geysers fills the area. From the smoldering Champagne Pool of Waiotapu to the steaming landscape of the Waimangu Volcanic Valley, the sweltering landscape puts you in the shoes of Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee as they made their way to the All-seeing Eye.
Waimangue Volcanic Valley is the youngest geothermal system in the world and has pools of sapphire blue that emit heavy steam. Part of the valley is still scarred from the volcano’s eruption, a sulfuric white and charred orange that drapes across part of the open mountain range. Follow Frodo’s footsteps through the redwood forest, the scent of rough bark emanating from the trees before you encounter the different cultures that have made New Zealand so diverse.
Rotorua is known to be New Zealand’s cultural capital mixing the rich history of Maori and European settlers in one area. Tonight you will learn about the incredible perseverance and continuing cultural connections of the Maori in the Rotorua area. Enter the Marae, the traditional Maori meetinghouse, and be greeted with a hongi, a pressing of your nose to another’s, a sign of being welcomed into the tribe by the chief as family. The meetinghouse is decorated with impeccably carved masks. The chins and cheeks of the masks are decorated with swirls imitating tribal body art. The piney fragrance fills the room. Drums beat. People begin to chant, and you watch the vibrant history of the Maori come to life.
Wellington - Deeper into the Middle
Today you will transfer from Rotorua to New Zealand’s capital, Wellington. Surrounded by fertile hills that edge the city closer to its adjacent bay, Wellington is a glistening city filled with as much beauty and activity as its incredible surroundings. The city is a fabulous place to explore and boasts more restaurants per capita than New York City. Cable cars pass through Lambton Quay.
People bustle through the streets along with the mixture of triangular, stone buildings, and modern architecture. The musk of fresh, rich coffee drifts from the cafes that line the street. Pay a leisurely visit to a local cafe known as the place to see and be seen. The inside resembles an outdoor café and offers a selection of stunning New Zealand and Australian wines, along with an incredibly tasty flat white.
Wellington - The Magic of Middle Earth
Dive deeper into Middle Earth by exploring the various beautiful areas in and around Wellington that created the expansive beauty of the film. Kaitoke Regional Park is filled with crystal-like rivers and stunning rainforest that was the perfect location for Rivendell. Walk along the suspension bridge, the sound of the rushing river rising from below.
The smell of evergreen surrounds the bridge. The woods are flourishing and dense. This is where Frodo recovered from his stab wound by a Morgul-blade. Travel through Tongariro National Park where Gimli, Legolas, and Aragorn wandered through the Paths of the Dead.
The pinnacles rise into the sky like jagged, gray trees. Gravel, rain, wind, and floods eroded the silt and rock over time creating this breathtaking display of natural pillars that stand tall and resemble the columns of a castle. With so much of Middle Earth to see you will end your exploration of the Wellington and Middle Earth at the Weta Workshop which houses a range of disciplines under one roof and which created many of the props used in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.
Weta Workshop built weapons, armor, chainmail, and much more for the films and continues to create incredible displays. No journey through Middle Earth would be complete without a visit, and possibly a swing of a sword.
Wellington - Taste of Middle Earth
Today you will explore Wellington’s fabulous food culture with a guide and chef. Stroll along the streets of the Courtenay and Cuba quarters that brim with vibrant life, also known as the city’s 24-hour neighborhoods. Music pulses from nightclubs, eccentric aromas drift out of the impressive number of restaurants and cafes, and small boutique shops mingle with it all. Pastel colors decorate the shops during the day and are brightly lit by neon at night.
Many universities surround the area giving extraordinary life to the neighborhood year-round. Stop into the Matterhorn for a drink where the outdoor patio flickers in firelight and the smell of rich and freshly brewed coffee wafts from the bar. The wooden framed interior will transport you to the Alps in no time. One of their signature cocktails, like the smoky and tart combination of the Holy Smoke, is a fantastic excuse to sit back and stay a while.
Queenstown - The Queen of Middle Earth
Today you will transfer from the dramatic beauty of Wellington and it’s surroundings to the breathtaking awe of the South Island. Arrive in Queenstown, an alpine city situated on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and the foothills of the Remarkables Mountain range. The snow topped peaks line the sky. The lake gleams in the sunlight. The breeze flows down from Bob’s peak and brings with it the fresh bark and pine sent of the Alps.
The streets are lined with stores and restaurants with blended facades of wood and stone. Treat yourself this evening with a visit to an award-winning restaurant with a chef who creates exceptional and surprising dishes; the flavors linger in your mouth and your thoughts long after the meal is over.
Queenstown - Fly Over Middle Earth
Today you will climb aboard a helicopter and tour Queenstown’s incredible surroundings that will bring you face to face with some of Middle Earth’s most breathtaking scenery, along with bringing you face to face with Alfie Speight, who was the principle filming pilot for the Lord of the Rings films. The Remarkables begin to sink below you as you climb into the sky, Lake Wakatipu shrinking on the receding earth. Look below you and see the Shotover River. The image of Arewen is clear in your mind. She sits on her white horse and stands in the river. The water is barely up to the horse’s ankles. The mountains are covered in evergreen.
The Nazgul follow Arwen into the river and you can see her summons bring the rush of the pristine water through the mountains and wash away the pursuing vagrants of Nazgul. Fly along the white blanket of Mt. Earnslaw. The exceptional glacier sits along the range. The mountain pass is plush green and dotted with tiny waterfalls that stem from the glacial water that adorns the mountaintop. The glacier emits a pure aroma of water and crunches beneath your feet. The ice is cold against your fingertips. The rock below the glacier is gray until it gives way to the lush grass that sprouts from the consistent water.
Look over Mt. Earnslaw, the bright white snow giving way to the a series of people wading through the treacherous path of the Redhorn Pass that lies beneath the slopes of Caradhras and was predominantly used by traveling elves. Like the traveling elves and the nine members of the Fellowship you will make it through Redhorn Pass and many more treacherously beautiful sites of Middle Earth that blanket the South Island.
Queenstown - Soar Over Queenstown
Make your way up the Skyline Gondola, the steepest gondola in the Southern Hemisphere where the entire city of Queenstown opens up before you. The shore of Lake Wakatipu laps beneath the boardwalk. The Remarkables roll into the distance, and the city sits quiet beneath you. The air is crisp and the smell of pine needles fills the brush.
Your professional guide will strap you into the protective gear, ensure your safety, and you will glide across the panorama of Queenstown, between the abundant trees atop Bob’s Peak and watch the opal blue lake sparkle in the sun. Whether silently drifting through the sky or zipping down the line, the colors of Queenstown become more vibrant and the mountain range that sits beyond the lake seems to shrink, as if you can see every rock, blade of grass, and snowflake that decorates the distance.
Glenorchy - The Road to Mordor
Hike along the shores of Lake Wakatipu, taking the stunning road to Mordor, where the rocky mountains begin to separate themselves from one another becoming a singular mountain instead of the image of a range. The lake is opal in the mid-morning sky. The water reflects the mountains and the trees. The trees and grass sway in the breeze. The city of Queenstown fades into the distance as you make your way to Glenorchy.
Once in Glenorchy you will climb aboard for an incredible jet boat tour of the Dart River. The water is emerald green and surrounded by pristine banks crowded with blooming gorse. The banks fluctuate between verdant forests and grass, to pebbled beaches and boulders. The mountains fade from white tips to deep gray foothills. The cool, fresh water mists your face. The wind wisps through your clothing. The woodlands shape and form next to the river, the thin tall trees that made Lothlorien and sit beneath the lower Misty Mountains.
Glenorchy - A Journey of Doubt
Today you will transfer to Manapouri to experience the incredible majesty of Doubtful Sound. Located inside the Fiordland National Park, Doubtful Sound is three times larger than the famous Milford Sound. Cruise through the sound in style on a three-masted staysail. The waterway opens up before you. The sails catch the breeze and push the boat forward. The vessel feels dwarfed between the goliath mountains that encircle the sound. The air is cool and quiet. The mountains are vibrant and green in the brilliant sky. Bottlenose dolphins often swim around the sound, their silver bodies shimmering beneath the clear water.
They love to jump and dive next to the boat, showing off for the people aboard as you make your way around the stunning glaciers that drip water down the mountainsides. The sound of crashing water echoes in the silence. The valley was carved by glacial activity which still remains. Penguins are also occasionally seen flying through the water and drying their feathers along the rocky shores. Whether dolphins, penguins, glaciers, or pristine water, Doubtful Sound has you enter the world of Tolkien and Jackson once again, whether used in the films or not, to experience its surreal and breathtaking beauty.
Queenstown - Return To Queenstown
Wake up and smell the fresh and cool air of Doubtful Sound. Soon you will be returning to Queenstown but take advantage of the morning to explore the sound once more. The water is cold on your fingertips. The icy, salty air brushes your skin. But the world is quiet. The sound is breathtaking, and if you had to throw a cursed ring into a volcano you know you wouldn’t mind passing through Doubtful Sound to do it.
A return to Queenstown brings with it the reemerging beauty of Lake Wakatipu, the Remarkables, and Bob’s Peak. The alpine city is quaint and contains a vibrant life. Stroll through the city, the streets lively day or night. The laughter of night spills onto the sidewalks. The cologne of creamy garlic and mussels drifts from the restaurants and the serene splendor of the day is exchanged for lamps and starlight by night.
Queenstown - One Tour to Rule Them All
As Frodo’s adventure eventually came to an end, so shall yours. From the quaint residencies of the shire to the tumultuous paths into Mordor you have followed Frodo and Samwise across Middle Earth, into the depths of New Zealand, and back again. Today you will transfer to the Queenstown Airport for your flight home. As you ascend into the sky the Remarkables pass beneath you. The glistening water of Lake Wakatipu disappears. The rolling hills of Hobbiton shrink away. But like Frodo’s voyage to destroy the ring, the journey may have come to an end but the adventure never will; there will always be more to see and another adventure to have.
- Visit the various landscapes that make up Middle Earth
- Experience the true culture of Maori
- Tour through the majesty of Doubtful Sound
- Experience the rush of a jet boat ride
- View the landscape from above as you fly over Queenstown
- Zipline over Lake Wakatipu
- See the incredible landscape of the Waimangu Thermal Valley
- Walk the “Road to Mordor”
Experience the stunning and adventurous beauty of Middle Earth on this 13-day New Zealand vacation. Whether in the bountiful blossoms of summer or the blanketed white mountains of the winter, Middle Earth, and New Zealand, should be explored, adventured, and all around experienced. Follow Frodo’s journey from the Shire to Mordor and see the exceptional majesty of the fictional world J.R.R. Tolkien created but that New Zealand has always been.
Begin your adventure in Auckland where you will explore the city and the nearby island of Waiheke. Explore the land and sea of Waiheke Island where vineyards thrive and walking trails meander across the terrain. Make your way south to Matamata where Hobbiton lies, the complete Shire where you can wander through and even sit in the Green Dragon Inn and rest for a minute before exploring the incredible wonder of the Waitomo Caves. Eventually you arrive in Rotorua, New Zealand’s “Cultural Capital.” Exploring Rorotura not only brings the incredible culture of the Maori to life but also the terrain of Mordor and the part of the intense geyser landscape that made up much of the trek to Mordor as you visit Waiotapu Wonderland and Waimangu Thermal Valley. You will arrive in Wellington with plenty of time to see the sights of the city and its surroundings, such as the Gardens of Isengard where the Orcs pulled the trees and where Gandalf rode to Saruman, including a stopover to Weta Workshop where much of the props and models for the movies were made.
Your journey through Middle Earth continues on New Zealand’s South Island as you fly to Queenstown. Soar over much of the remarkable area surrounding Queenstown to see beautiful and demonic areas of Middle Earth, such as natural features you may better recognize as Isengard and Amon Hen. While in Queenstown you will enjoy the thrill of flying through the sky on a zipline with the breathtaking panorama of the city beyond, followed by a jet boat tour of the Dart River where the Lothlorien forest lies. Your path finally leads you to Doubtful Sound, a stunning fjord in Fiordland National Park where you will sail through mountains that rise, waterfalls that rush, and where serenity surrounds the boat. Your path through Middle Earth is full, breathtaking, and accomplished. New Zealand is filled with exceptional beauty and no more so than seen in the unparalleled landscapes of an imaginary realm that was captured to perfection in the scenery of the country’s North and South Islands.
Related Information: There are a variety of New Zealand tours on Zicasso. Browse the section on New Zealand travel agents to see what real travelers say about their customized experiences.
Note: Zicasso and “Lord of the Rings New Zealand Tour Package" are not affiliated with, or sponsored or endorsed by, Middle-earth Enterprises, The Saul Zaentz Company, New Line Cinema, WingNut Films.
$3,245 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
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Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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