Middle Earth Explorer
Fans of all things Lord of the Rings are in for a treat with this epic adventure through Middle Earth.
Look out for Frodo and Bilbo in the Shire, go behind the scenes and see how the props were made. Visit various filming backdrops as you admire the glorious scenery that is the standout star of this popular film franchise.
Some of the highlights included are:
- Savour world-class wines in three wineries at Auckland’s Waiheke Island
- Relive the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies as you explore idyllic Hobbiton
- Get lost in movie magic in Wellington’s Lord of the Rings location tour
- Visit towering Aoraki/Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain peak
- Discover Queenstown’s scenery, including the Pillars of the King location
- Experience the silence of Middle Earth on an overnight Milford Sound cruise
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- All international & internal flights
- 12 nights in 4.5–5* hotels
- 1 night Milford Mariner overnight cruise
- 5 days car hire
- Wine on Waiheke tour
- Hobbiton Movie Set & Farm tour
- Lake Spa Bathing at Rotorua
- Lord of the Rings location tour in Wellington
- Ferry crossing from Wellington to Picton
- Coastal Pacific train
- Queenstown highlights tour
- All transfers
Need to know+
- Arrives: Auckland Airport (AKL)
- Time difference: GMT+13
- Visa requirements: British passport holders do not require a visa
- Language: English and Maori
- Currency: New Zealand dollar (NZD)
- Flying time from UK: around 27 hours
- Plug type: 3-prong flat blade plug
- Voltage: 240 volts/50 cycles
- A one-way fee applies for the car hire in this Journey; please ask us for details
- The Coastal Pacific Train does not operate from May through September; a car hire extension will substitute the train during this period
Fly from UK to Auckland
Arrive in cosmopolitan Auckland and sail across to peaceful Waiheke Island for a spot of wine tasting at three premium wineries. Home to hippies and millionaires, Waiheke is a beautiful spot surrounded by clear, calm waters and soft beaches. Back in town, make sure you climb the Auckland Sky Tower, where you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views over the city, especially impressive when lit up at night. Art lovers should head to the Auckland Art Gallery, filled with over 15,000 pieces, both New Zealand and international, including some impressive Maori portraits.
See if the hobbits are home as you pay a special visit to the quaint village of Hobbiton. Wander past the hobbit holes, peer in the windows and have a drink in the Green Dragon Inn. Continue on to Rotorua, where you’ll bathe in the mineral pools of Lake Spa. Rotorua is a geothermal wonderland, a place filled with hot springs, crystal clear pools, geysers and atmospheric forests. It’s also the place to come to learn more about the Maori culture, as there are is a sizeable Maori population here.
Drop in on Turoa, filming location for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. This pretty area can be skied in winter, or cycled and hiked in summer. Continue on to Wellington where you’ll see behind the scenes of the Lord of the Rings films and learn how Middle Earth was brought to life on a tour of the Weta Workshop, creator of props, costumes, models, weapons and effects for the films. While you are here, it is well worth spending at least a few hours at Te Papa, the national museum of New Zealand, filled with historical artefacts, fossils, animal and bird specimens, and photography.
Take the ferry to the South Island, then the scenic Coastal Pacific Train to pretty Christchurch. Here, you can choose to take a look around the fascinating Canterbury Museum, or find out more about polar exploration and meet the penguins at the Antarctic Centre. On a sunny day, recreate a little slice of England on the Avon River and take a relaxing punting trip, or stroll around the pretty flowers and trees of the Botanic Gardens. Head down to Riccarton House and browse, and of course taste, your way around the goodies on offer at the farmers’ market.
Aoraki Mount Cook
Continue on past twinkling blue lakes and dense forests to the stunning mountain scenery of Aoraki/Mt Cook, the highest peak in Australasia at 3754 metres. You can explore the area, a national park, on foot, take a 4WD or, if you are feeling extravagant, take a helicopter ride over the lakes, mountains and glaciers. Along with Fiordland, this park is part of the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Area, popular with climbers. Those who are interested should head down to the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre, an interesting exhibition on mountaineering.
Visit the Lake Pukaki, otherwise known as Lake-town in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, then swing by the Pillars of the King from Fellowship of the Ring on your way to Queenstown. Twizel, another stop, can be spotted in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Queenstown is New Zealand’s adrenaline capital – choose from bungee jumping, skydiving or jet boating, or perhaps the more sedate gondola riding and lake cruising. The scenery here is lovely, with the pretty Remarkable Mountains forming a fine backdrop to the deep blue of Lake Wakatipu.
Set sail on an overnight cruise around Milford Sound, an area used as a background in all three of The Hobbit movies. Admire the dramatic cliffs and plunging waterfalls of this picturesque region. Spend the night on board your boat, being sure to head out on deck after dark to watch the stars twinkle, then wake up in the peace and quiet of the sounds. Seals are often spotted, and do look out for dolphins and penguins too. When the boat moors, you can join the tender or hop in a kayak to explore the scenery in more detail, or, if you can brave the water, go for a refreshing swim.
Return to Queenstown for one last night. Perhaps visit the famous Pig & Whistle pub for a comfort meal and a beer and reminisce about your Middle Earth Journey.
Depart Queenstown and return to the UK
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