Start in Auckland and begin your Lord of the Rings adventure by travelling to Rotarua where you can explore Maori culture and sulphuric geysers, before touring the Hobbiton Movie Set. Head to Lake Taupo to see the amazing Huka Falls before travelling into Tongariro National Park, location for Mordor and Mount Doom. Transfer to Wellington for a taste of city life – and a visit to the Weta Workshop – before a whistlestop tour through New Zealand’s south island, including the scenery in Nelson, a helicopter tour from Kaikoura over locations for Rivendell and Mines of Moria, Lake Heron for a stay in a sheep station and Lake Tekapo for kayaking, hot springs and stargazing – and the location for Edoras. Travel to Queenstown where you can tour locations used for Minas Tirith, the Misty Mountains and Isengard. Cruise on Milford Sound to see dolphins and penguins, before ending back in Queenstown for adventure activities like bungy jumping and ziplining.

Key information

Destinations Destinations Queenstown, Milford Sound, Lake Tekapo, Rotorua, Kaikoura, Auckland, Lake Taupo, Nelson, Lake Heron, Wellington
Activity Activity Adventure, Nature & Wildlife, Culture & History, Hiking, National Parks
Physical Level Physical Level Easy
Season Season January - December

Suggested itinerary

Arrival and transfer to Cambridge

Arrival and transfer to Cambridge

Day 1 in Auckland

Travel to the peaceful, rural town of Cambridge to relax before you begin your Lord of the Rings adventure tomorrow.

Explore Rotorua and embrace your inner Hobbit

Explore Rotorua and embrace your inner Hobbit

Day 2–3 in Rotorua

An eggy scent hangs over sulphuric Rotorua on New Zealand’s North Island, which is home to spectacular geothermal springs, mud pools and geysers. However, it’s not just the landscapes that attract visitors – 34% of Rotorua’s population is Maori, and cultural performances and banquets are worth seeing.

Don't miss

Experience life in Tolkein's Middle-earth

Experience life in Tolkein's Middle-earth

Take a tour of the Hobbiton Movie Set, used for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film series, complete with a pint (and optional dress-up) in the Green Dragon inn. For avid fans, visit on the 22nd September for the Hobbit Day festivities and feasts.

See Waitomo Caves eerie glowworms

See Waitomo Caves eerie glowworms

Take a 15-minute boat ride through Waitomo Caves to experience glowworm grotto, a hall filled with thousands of glowworms emitting a soft, illuminating light. Not to be missed.

Dip your toes in the (very) hot springs of Rotorua

Dip your toes in the (very) hot springs of Rotorua

Unwind by the heavenly thermal pools at Rotorua, including the colourful Champagne Pool at Waiotapu and Waimangu Cauldron, otherwise known as Frying Pan Lake – where temperatures can reach a steamy 60C. For pools to swim in, try those at Waikite Valley.

Get on the water at Lake Taupo and hike to Mordor

Get on the water at Lake Taupo and hike to Mordor

Day 4–6 in Lake Taupo

Vast Lake Taupo is as big as Singapore and was created 2,000 years ago from a volcanic eruption so huge it would have been seen from China. Today, visitors come for the magnificent Huka Falls, Maori rock carvings and watersports. Lake Taupo is also an excellent base for exploring nearby Tongariro National Park, including the Tongariro Alpine Crossing day hike and skiing at Whakapapa.

Don't miss

Hike Spa Park to Huka Falls

Hike Spa Park to Huka Falls

Take the easy one-hour trail from Spa Park to Huka Falls to witness the roaring Waikato Ricer plunge 11 metres over volcanic rock. The trail passes through forest and offers several viewing points of the Falls.

Tackle the 21km Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Tackle the 21km Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Go on a day-hike across the eery volcanic landscape of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Sprinkled with emerald lakes and soda springs, the 21km trail, which takes around seven hours to complete, winds around active volcanoes and features panoramic views across the harsh rocky terrain.

Kayak around Lake Taupo

Kayak around Lake Taupo

Enjoy a relaxing paddle in the crystal clear waters of Lake Taupo and explore the mysterious Maori rock carvings at Mine Bay, which can only be viewed from the water. The surrounding forests are also great for hiking and just north of Taupo you'll find the spectacular Huka Falls.

Visit cultural Wellington

Visit cultural Wellington

Day 7–9 in Wellington

Creative Wellington has a claim to be New Zealand’s most cultural city. From art galleries to theatre, craft beer to coffee, Wellington is a compact city packing a powerful punch. If you’re still looking for outdoor activities, try mountain biking or sea-water kayaking, or take a walk on the Makara Peak track for views across the west coast beach.

Don't miss

Tour Weta Workshop in Wellington

Tour Weta Workshop in Wellington

Weta Workshop is a physical effects film workshop co-founded by Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson. The world-famous workshop has won dozens of awards and visitors can see props, costumes and weapons used in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Enjoy panoramic views from Mount Victoria

Enjoy panoramic views from Mount Victoria

Venture to the top of Mount Victoria and you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views of New Zealand’s capital, Wellington. The Mount Victoria Lookout is a relatively easy walk from the city centre, along woodland trails that were used in The Lord of the Rings.

Discover local art in Nelson

Discover local art in Nelson

Day 10 in Nelson

Nelson Tasman is known as one of New Zealand’s most artistic places, with painters, sculptor and jewellery makers are living here. Head to the local art market to discover what makes this such a creative place.

Don't miss

Sample Nelson's vineyards on a bike tour

Sample Nelson's vineyards on a bike tour

Visit the small but sweet wine region of Nelson, situated in the north of New Zealand’s South Island, for an unforgettable wine tour. The area produces boutique wines and offers a wide range of outdoor activities. With its pleasant climate and rolling green plains, it’s best explored by bike.

See seals at Farewell Spit Nature Reserve

See seals at Farewell Spit Nature Reserve

Farewell Spit Nature Reserve is a bird sanctuary offering refuge to migratory birds including godwits, gannets and black swans. Head to Cape Farewell’s clifftops and you can spot seals basking on the rocks all year round.

Ultimate Lord of the Rings Helicopter Tour

Ultimate Lord of the Rings Helicopter Tour

Day 11 in Kaikoura

Enjoy a three-hour Ultimate Lord of the Rings tour which includes a helicopter flight and a visit to Salisbury Falls.

Begin with a flight into Golden Bay to land on Mount Olympus — the location of the South of Rivendell — before flying towards Mt Owen. Marvel at the 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.

Explore outback New Zealand at Lake Heron

Explore outback New Zealand at Lake Heron

Day 12 in Lake Heron

Lake Heron Station is an authentic working sheep farm, making it the perfect place to experience high-country New Zealand life. This is a great place to stargaze in quiet farmland surrounded by mountain peaks.

Stargaze at Lake Tekapo

Stargaze at Lake Tekapo

Day 13 in Lake Tekapo

A highland lake in the middle of New Zealand’s south island, Lake Tekapo is best known for its incredibly clear skies that are perfect for stargazing. However, visitors also come for hiking, boating, mountain biking and windsurfing on the water.

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.

Don't miss

Lupin spotting at Lake Tekapo

Lupin spotting at Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo’s sparkling emerald waters offer stunning views of the Southern Alps year-round, but flower-lovers should aim to visit between mid November-December for the thousands of lupins which decorate the waterfront.

The Lord of the Rings Adventure Safari and flight

The Lord of the Rings Adventure Safari and flight

Day 14–15 in Queenstown

From Queenstown you’ll embark on 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 drive to Glenorchy, the site of Isengard, before a 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.

Cruise Milford Sound

Cruise Milford Sound

Day 16 in Milford Sound

Even by New Zealand’s standards, Milford Sound is a truly spectacular sight. Located in the southwest of the South Island, the beautiful fjord is packed with jaw-droppingly beautiful natural features, including Mitre Peak, rainforests and stunning waterfalls, such as Stirling and Bowen Falls.

Explore the adventure capital of the world

Explore the adventure capital of the world

Day 17 in Queenstown

The self-described ‘adventure capital of the world’, Queenstown is a playground for adrenaline junkies. Famously the birthplace of bungy jumping, you can also try zip lining, heli-skiing and any other number of activities that will get your pulse racing. However, if you’re after something less strenuous, it’s worth noting that Queenstown also has excellent vineyards and an exciting food scene.

Don't miss

Skydive high above the Glenorchy mountain range

Skydive high above the Glenorchy mountain range

The blue lakes and snow-capped mountains in and around Glenorchy are so stunning that they were used as locations for The Lord of the Rings films, and, for those who dare, skydiving is an incredible way to take in this amazing scenery.

Explore scenic Auckland

Explore scenic Auckland

Day 18–19 in Auckland

Forget the city’s high-rise centre; the beauty of Auckland is the scenery surrounding it. From surf beaches to the islands of Hauraki Gulf, volcanic peaks to fertile farmland, it’s no surprise that the greater Auckland region features high in lists of the world’s most liveable places. This is the perfect introduction to New Zealand.

Where to stay

Classic

Fletcher Lodge

Situated just minutes from the heart of Dunedin, this property is a registered Historic Places Trust building and has been beautifully refurbished with elegant styling and modern amenities, surrounded by beautiful manicured gardens.

The four luxury rooms in the original house are richly furnished with antique, hand-carved furniture, cast-iron claw foot baths, underfloor heating, and French doors leading out to sunny private balconies overlooking the gardens and valley below.

Superior

Lochmara Lodge

This unique hideaway in the Marlborough Sounds is the perfect place to disconnect and soak up the breathtaking natural beauty of the region.

Surrounded by pristine bushland, Lochmara Lodge has no road access, with guests arriving via the private Lochmara Bay on a 15 minute boat ride from Picton. You can also hike or cycle in through the Queen Charlotte Track.

It offers spacious, comfortable units that are perfect for families, while couples can retreat to the romantic chalets with balconies overlooking the bay.

Deluxe

Greenhill Lodge

Greenhill Lodge is a historic homestead located in the heart of Hawke’s Bay, a stretch of beautiful coastline on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island.

The region’s rolling hills and winding rivers are perfect for fishing, swimming, golfing and canoeing, among other outdoor activities. This is also an agricultural region and you’ll be treated to local produce and wines from the vineyards here during your stay.

Book this itinerary

This route booked with one of our specialist tour operators would cost from £10,900pp. Pricing varies by accommodation class, and can be tailored to suit your budget.

Pricing is typically inclusive of hotels, transfers, meals, and all guided excursions and activities.

Learn more

Contact us now and we'll connect you with a specialist tour operator with more information on how to tailor and book this itinerary.

Other itineraries you might like

Why Horizon Guides?

Impartial guidebooks

Impartial guidebooks

Our travel guides are written by the leading experts in their destinations. We never take payment for positive coverage so you can count on us for impartial travel advice.

Expert itineraries

Expert itineraries

Suggested itineraries and routes to help you scratch beneath the surface, avoid the tourist traps, and plan an authentic, responsible and enjoyable journey.

Specialist advice

Specialist advice

Get friendly, expert travel advice and custom itineraries from some of the world’s best tour operators, with no spam, pressure or commitment to book.

Loading...