A Halfling's Ramble - 1 Week in Middle‑earth

7 DAYS

1153 km

Highlights

  • Hobbiton Movie Set
  • Waitomo Caves
  • Volcanic Ruapehu

Proximity

CAR-FREE TRAVEL OPTIONS

includes a domestic flight, Taupo to Wellington

Most hobbits don’t like to stray too far from home. This week-long Middle‑earth itinerary is the perfect length in which to experience some of the North Island's best attractions.

Day 1: Auckland to Whitianga

The Coromandel
Cathedral Cove, The Coromandel

By Andy Belcher

Highlights

  • Cathedral Cove
  • Thames gold mining history
  • Coromandel art galleries and craft shops

Proximity

  • By car: 3 h 20 min | 208 km via SH1, SH2 & SH25
  • By bus: 3 h 25 min | to Coromandel Town by Intercity
  • By ferry: 2 h | to Coromandel Town by Fullers

MORE ABOUT THE COROMANDEL

White sand coastline and abundant marine life.

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Journey from the exciting urban hub of Auckland to the coastal paradise of the Coromandel. Cloaked in native rainforest, with dazzling white sand beaches and picturesque coves, The Coromandel is a favourite holiday destination.

Cathedral Cove is a picturesque photo spot, and at Hot Water Beach you can dig your own natural spa. You can see both these attractions in one day - but you'll need to time it carefully, as you need to be at Hot Water Beach within 2 hours of low tide to access the naturally heated water.

Spend the night in the beach town of Whitianga. It's got a good range of accommodation, shops and restaurants - expect to eat some excellent seafood while you’re here.

Day 2: The Coromandel to Rotorua via Hobbiton

Hamilton - Waikato
Hobbiton Movie Set, Hamilton - Waikato

By Fraser Clements

Highlights

  • Discover the real Middle‑earth
  • Watch geysers erupt and mud boil
  • Learn the how to perform a perfect haka

Proximity

  • By car: 3 h 10 min | 232 km via SH25 & SH26
  • By bus: No direct bus service - see car free option.

HOBBITION IN 360

Go behind the scenes of New Zealand's real Middle‑earth film set.

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Today make your way from The Coromandel to Matamata where you will find the original Hobbiton Movie Set, with its enchanting community of life-sized Hobbit holes. Enjoy a guided tour around The Shire, your knowledgeable guide will enlighten you about the history and the on-location filming processes. Stop for a handle of ale at the Green Dragon Inn or grab a light lunch at the Shire’s Rest Café. 

Then continue to Rotorua, one of the world's most lively fields of geothermal activity. Spend the evening enjoying a Maori Cultural Performance and traditional hangi.

Car-free option

Add a night in Tauranga: 5 h | Coromandel to Tauranga & 1 h 25 min | Tauranga to Rotorua.

Day 3: Spend a day exploring Rotorua

Rotorua
Tamaki Maori Village, Rotorua

By Destination Rotorua

Rotorua

ROTORUA

Mud pools, adventure and unique Maori culture.

Highlights

  • Explore the forest canopy on a Treewalk
  • Take a downhill ride via OGO or Luge
  • Discover hidden mirror pools and geysers

MUST-DO EXPERIENCES IN ROTORUA

Nowhere in New Zealand does the earth feel more alive than it does in Rotorua.

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A fascinating mix of geothermal activity, Maori culture, and adventure, Rotorua is a region that offers a multitude of experiences.

Explore the bubbling mud pools and geysers of Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley, or get your adrenaline pumping with some of the great adventure activities on offer. Visit Te Puia or Tamaki Maori Village to experience Maori culture and learn about the fascinating history of New Zealand's indigenous people.

For those that love getting outdoors, try a walk or mountain bike along the network of trails that wind through the giant Redwood forests.

Day 4: Rotorua to Waitomo Caves

Hamilton - Waikato
See Glow Worms, Hamilton - Waikato

By Shaun Jeffer

Highlights

  • Waitomo caving experience
  • Culture & history at Waikato Museum
  • Free-flight aviary at Hamilton Zoo

Proximity

  • By car: 1 h 55 min | 139 km via SH5
  • By bus: 1 h 55 min | by Great Sights

EXPLORE WAITOMO CAVES

Discover a labyrinth of caves, sinkholes and underground rivers

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Today you'll make your way to the subterranean world of Waitomo. On your journey, pause to explore Cambridge with its range of shops and cafes, or stop at Otorohanga Kiwi House and meet our national icon.

The Waitomo Caves are a fascinating labyrinth of underground sinkholes, tunnels and rivers beneath rolling green farmland. Take a walking or boat tour to see the glowworms, try blackwater rafting or zip-line through the darkness.

Peter Jackson loved the acoustic quality of these caves and recorded some of the soundscape for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Day 5: Waitomo to National Park

Ruapehu
Taranaki Falls Track, Ruapehu

By Graeme Murray

Highlights

  • Walk to Taranaki Falls
  • Hiking, rafting, climbing.
  • Gateway to Mt Tongariro and Mt Ruapehu

Proximity

MUST-DO EXPERIENCES IN RUAPEHU

Three huge volcanoes rise from a desert landscape dotted with lakes.

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Turn south towards Mt Ruapehu. Ruapehu, in the Central Plateau, is known for it's mountainous, desolate beauty. This location was used as a filming location for some of the Mordor scenes in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. 

The Ruapehu region offers a profusion of different activities, from hiking trails to rafting and skiing in winter. The Ohakune Old Coach Road is a popular half-day cycle trail that follows a cobblestone road once used to join the two ends of main trunk railway line before it was finally connected in 1909.

Alternatively, spend the afternoon relaxing with a high tea at the grand Chateau Tongariro Hotel.

Day 6: Tongariro Alpine Crossing

New Zealand
Tongariro Alpine Crossing, New Zealand

By Graeme Murray

Highlights

  • Emerald lakes
  • Panoramic views
  • Volcanic craters and lava flows

Proximity

  • By bus: Hikers are advised take a suttle to the start
  • By : Visit the DOC visitor centre for times.

TONGARIRO ALPINE CROSSING

A challenging journey across a remarkable volcanic landscape.

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To truly appreciate the bright emerald lakes, volcanic landscapes and spectacular mountain views of the Ruapehu region, you can't go past Tongariro Alpine Crossing.

This challenging one-day hike is often billed as one of the best in the world. With stunning views of the plateau's three imposing volcanoes, old lava flows and active steam vents. Lord of the Rings fans will recognise the shape of Mount Ngauruhoe, as the mountain that stood in for Mount Doom in the trilogy. 

During peak season, the Department of Conservation recommends that visitors access the track via a shuttle from Whakapapa, National Park Village, Turangi, Taupo or Ohakune. A full list of operators can be found here.

Day 7: National Park to Wellington via Taupo

New Zealand
Weta-Workshops, New Zealand

By Tourism New Zealand

Highlights

  • Weta Workshop & Weta Cave
  • Art and culture in Wellington
  • Zealandia

Proximity

MORE ABOUT WELLINGTON

A place brimming with art, culture, delicious food and natural environments.

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Catch a morning flight from nearby Taupo to Wellington, New Zealand's capital city.

Located at the southernmost tip of the North Island, Wellington is home to Weta Workshop and the Weta Cave. Here, you can get a behind-the-scenes look at movie making magic in action. 

Spend the rest of your journey indulging in the city’s buzzing food and wine scene, checking out the museums and galleries or enjoy a cable-car ride to the Kelburn lookout for expansive harbour views.

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

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