Elven Magic 2-Weeks in Middle‑earth

14 DAYS

1995 km

Highlights

  • Waitomo Caves
  • Weta Workshop
  • Beorn's House

Proximity

CAR-FREE TRAVEL OPTIONS

Includes one domestic flight from HLZ to WLG & one ferry across Cook Strait.

Elves value beautiful and enchanting places, and this 2-week itinerary will unveil the most stunning places in New Zealand. Explore the filming locations of Forest River, Dimrill Dale and Lothlorien as you make your way through the North and South Islands.

Day 1: Auckland

Auckland
Rangitoto Summit Track, Auckland

By Fraser Clements

Auckland

AUCKLAND

Vibrant city style and spectacular landscapes

Highlights

  • Climb Rangitoto Island
  • Enjoy delicious food and wine
  • Soak up Auckland's vibrant nightlife

MUST-DO EXPERIENCES IN AUCKLAND

Discover a combination of metropolitan delights and natural landscapes.

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A sparkling coastal city of islands and harbours, Auckland is known for its beautiful scenery and laid-back vibe and is your gateway to Middle‑earth.

The dormant volcanic island of Rangitoto lies within the centre of Auckland’s harbour, a short ferry-ride away. Climb to the top and be rewarded with 360-degree views of the city and its islands. Then spend your evening exploring the Viaduct, Britomart and Wynyard Quarter. These buzzing downtown precincts are home to gourmet restaurants and busy nightlife. Enjoy quality food and wine and soak up the vibrant atmosphere.

Day 2: Auckland to Hamilton via Hobbiton

Hamilton - Waikato
Hobbiton Movie Set, Hamilton - Waikato

By Fraser Clements

Hamilton - Waikato

HAMILTON - WAIKATO

Caves, surf beaches and hobbit holes.

Highlights

  • Hobbiton Movie Set
  • Waikato Museum
  • Beautiful Hamilton Gardens

Proximity

After a night in Auckland, take a drive south to Hobbiton Movie Set. Hobbiton appears exactly as it did in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. See the Party Tree and Bag End up close, before quenching your thirst with a handle of ale at the Green Dragon Inn.

Travel on to Waitomo, the filming location for Trollshaw Forest & Staddle's Farm in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Take a guided tour through Mangaotaki Valley and explore the filming location for the Troll Camp Fire scenes. The towering limestone cliffs nearby will make you feel as though you've just stepped into the real Middle‑earth. 

Day 3: Visit Waitomo Caves

Hamilton - Waikato
Black water rafting in Waitomo Cave, Hamilton - Waikato

By Tourism Holdings Limited

Highlights

  • Blackwater rafting
  • Glowworm caves
  • Abseiling adventures

Proximity

WAITOMO CAVES

Discover a labyrinth of caves, sinkholes and underground rivers.

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Explore the Waitomo Caves and all they have to offer in the morning. This labyrinth of caves lies under the rolling green hills of Waitomo Valley. Twinkling glowworms light up the darkness, and a number of rivers and walking tracks wind through the caves. Take a walking tour or try Blackwater rafting through the underground waterways. Peter Jackson used sound recorded in Waitomo Caves for scenes in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey due to their acoustic quality.  

In the afternoon, catch a flight to Wellington from nearby Hamilton Airport.

Day 4: Explore Wellington

New Zealand
The Weta Cave, New Zealand

By Weta Workshop

Wellington

WELLINGTON

A mix of culture, history, nature and cuisine

Highlights

  • Weta Workshop & Weta Cave
  • Lively cafes, bars and restaurants
  • Fascinating Museums and galleries

Proximity

Wellington is New Zealand’s movie-production hub, home to Weta Workshop and Weta Cave. All the post-production for The Hobbit trilogy took place here. The city also has a buzzing cultural and theatre scene with plenty of live music venues to check out.

Discover nearby filming locations in Mount Victoria (which depicted Hobbiton Woods) before taking in expansive city views with a cable-car ride to the Kelburn lookout.

Day 5: Wellington to Nelson

Marlborough
Interislander Ferry, Marlborough, Marlborough

By Positively Wellington

Lake Taupo

NELSON

National parks, local artists & world-class wine

Highlights

  • Marlborough Sounds & Abel Tasman
  • Art galleries and craft shops
  • Wineries and fresh seafood

Proximity

  • By ferry: 3 h 30 min | to Picton by a Cook Strait Ferry
  • By car: 1 h 50 min | 107 km via Linkwater & SH6
  • By bus: 2 h 15 min | by Intercity via Blenheim

From Wellington, catch the ferry to Picton before making your way to nearby Nelson. Known as the sunniest region in New Zealand, there's plenty to do here, as well as some fascinating filming locations to explore. 

With its stunning beaches, lush national parks and quirky towns, Nelson is a place you can easily spend a couple of days exploring. Hire a kayak and paddle from one white sand beach to another. Nearby filming locations include Chetwood Forest, Dimrill Dale, south of Rivendell.

Day 6: Discover Nelson region

Nelson
Abel Tasman National Park, Nelson

By Fraser Clements

Highlights

  • Abel Tasman National Park
  • Great Taste cycle trail
  • World of Wearable Arts Museum

Proximity

  • By car: 1 h 10 min | 65 km to Abel Tasman via SH60
  • By bus: 1 h 50 min | by Nelson Coachlines

TOP EXPERIENCES IN NELSON TASMAN

Explore national parks, meet local artists and savour the local wines

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Take this day to explore Nelson region. Browse quirky galleries, visit Jens Hansen Jewellers - makers of The One Ring - or take a drive around Abel Tasman National Park. The region is also dotted with wineries, making it the perfect place for those who love a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling or Pinot Gris.

Day 7 - 8: Nelson to West Coast Glaciers

West Coast
Franz Josef Glacier, West Coast

By Fraser Clements

West Coast

WEST COAST

Rugged natural beauty and unique experiences

Proximity

  • By car: 6 h 40 min | 460 km via SH6
  • By bus: 9 h 45 min | via Westport By Intercity

EXPLORE WEST COAST GLACIERS

Discover a place where the ice age is still underway.

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Take your time travelling down the West Coast to Franz Josef. Don't miss the famous Punakaiki Rocks on the way. Here, cliffs and ravines with hundreds of horizontal slices - resembling hotcakes - rise out of the rugged coastline. Columns of water shoot skywards forced through tiny blowholes created over millions of years. 

The glaciers here flow almost to sea level - making them some of the easiest to visit in the world. There are plenty of ways to experience the glaciers up close. From easy walks to a more adventurous guided glacier hike. Scenic heli-flights make you fully appreciate their immense scale.   

Nearby filming locations include the lighting of the beacons.

Day 9: West Coast to Wanaka

Wanaka
Lone Tree, Wanaka

By Tourism New Zealand

Wanaka

WANAKA

The most tranquil of the South Island lakes

Highlights

  • Explore Lake Wanaka
  • Mount Aspiring National Park
  • World-class wineries

Proximity

It's a long drive today but the spectacular alpine scenery on the way to Wanaka is worth many photo-stops. Spend a night in this boutique lakeside town and enjoy a delicious meal at one of the many restaurants. Be sure to try the Pinot Noir for which the region is famous.

You'll wake to a deep blue lake and soaring mountains - the similarities to Middle‑earth here are endless.

Day 10 - 11: Wanaka to Glenorchy

Queenstown
Step back in time on a horse trek through the exceptional landscapes surrounding Glenorchy., Queenstown

By Miles Holden

Queenstown

QUEENSTOWN

Home of the ultimate adventure bucket list

Highlights

  • Horse riding in Glenorchy
  • Stunning walking and hiking trails
  • Jet boating and kayaking

Proximity

Today's journey takes you into the heart of the real Middle‑earth - Glenorchy is home to many of the filming locations from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

Set against a backdrop of towering mountains and native forest, Glenorchy's landscapes are a prime location for film scouts. Peter Jackson used this area for Isengard, Lothlorien, and Fangorn Forest. Nearby Paradise was the setting for Beorn's House in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Sir Ian McKellan (Gandalf) once said of this area, 'it's the Middle‑earth I've always imagined'. 

While you're here, don't miss a short hike or horse trek along the trails that lace the surrounding area.

Day 12 - 14: Explore Queenstown & surrounds

Queenstown
Onsen Hot Pools, Queenstown

By Matt Crawford

Highlights

  • Adventure activities of all kinds
  • Delicious food & wine
  • Hot pools and spas

Proximity

  • By car: 20 min | 20 km to Arrowtown via Malaghans Rd
  • By bus: Visit the iSITE for local day tour options

TOP EXPERIENCES IN QUEENSTOWN

Explore wineries, epic film locations and adventure activities.

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Ringed by mountains and a crystal-clear lake, Queenstown is a top visitor destination offering everything from adventure activities to luxury and world-class wine. It's also the site of many Middle‑earth filming locations including, The Ford of Brunein, The Gladden Fields, Sindarin Pillars of the Kings, Isengard and Lothlorien.

Take your time exploring in and around Queenstown. Treat yourself to a scenic flight or take a day hike through the surrounding mountains. If you have time, the gold-mining settlement of Arrowtown is well worth a visit. Mark the end of your Middle‑earth New Zealand adventure with an adrenaline-pumping bungy jump that you'll never forget.

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Important things you need to know about driving in New Zealand.

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