Auckland to Wellington.

Bring the Lord of the Rings and Hobbiton to life with this 10 day tour of the key filming locations in the North Island.

Highlights include: a scenic flight over Mt Doom and Mordor, a visit to the living village of Hobbiton and a behind the scenes tour of Weta Cave, exploring the creative genius behind the movies. In Waitomo, you’ll stay in your very own Hobbit Hole!

The approximate total driving distance and time for this itinerary is: 739 kms / 459 miles, 9.1 hours with all times given based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

You can expect to spend around NZ$132 in fuel cost on this itinerary based on an intermediate sized car.

Image: Hobbiton, Matamata © Sara Orme

Your tour documentation pack and support

On arrival into New Zealand your tour pack is hand delivered to you by our representatives. The pack contains all the documentation you will need for your tour including a printed and bound detailed version of your itinerary with driving instructions and maps for each leg and all the reservation details for your accommodation and activities. You’ll also receive a wonderful New Zealand picture atlas and lots of relevant brochures and information on the destinations you’ll be visiting. While travelling throughout New Zealand we offer 24 hour support and help should you need it.

Complimentary New Zealand cell phone for your holiday

You will receive a New Zealand cell phone for the duration of your tour with $50 credit pre-loaded for your use. The number is allocated to you around 14 days before your arrival so you can leave this with friends and family if you wish. Receiving calls (including international) does not cost anything on this phone so there are no expensive roaming charges. It’s a great option to help you make dinner reservations, book an activity, call ahead to your accommodation or for calling us if you need any help.

1

Day 1: Welcome to Auckland

Welcome to Auckland, transfer to your accommodation and rest of day at leisure. Personal, meet, greet and private transfer to your accommodation.

Auckland City is New Zealand’s largest. Known as the ‘city of sails’ it is situated on a narrow neck of land between two harbours, Manukau Harbour and the beautiful Waitemata Harbour which flanks the city centre. There is somewhere for every visitor to feel right at home as each suburb has its own unique style and atmosphere, from the vibrant and trendy fashion and cuisine found along Ponsonby Road to the breath-taking native bush and beaches of the West Coast. Spend the day exploring the city or relaxing before your adventure begins.

Accommodation: City Life Auckland
Room type: Apartments

2

Day 2: Enjoy a full day exploring Auckland's wild side.

Bush and Beach Coast and Rainforest full day tour.

Your full day excursion goes first to the Arataki Visitor Centre – gateway to the rainforest– just a short drive from Downtown Auckland. Enjoy breathtaking panoramic views from the sweeping decks extending from the Tasman Sea to the Pacific Ocean. Absorb the area’s history and admire the magnificent traditional Maori carvings. Then walk in the regenerating rainforest where your experienced guide will explain about the local flora and fauna with giant tree ferns growing alongside picturesque streams. Unwind by a spectacular cascading waterfall or swim beneath it. Venture on to an awe-inspiring west coast beach where you can stroll along the soft black sand and feel the clear ocean breeze. A kiwi-style picnic lunch is provided at a scenic location.

Your eco-tour ends in an area of untamed original rainforest where mature 1,000 year old kauri trees tower over the unique flora and fauna that has developed separately from the rest of the world for millions of years. This part of the rainforest is particularly rich in bird life thanks to a successful programme to eradicate pests. A reasonable level of fitness is required as the total distance walked on the day is approximately 10km (6 miles), this is split up into several walks of up to 1 hour duration each.

Accommodation: City Life Auckland
Room type: Apartments
Meals included: Lunch

3

Day 3: Today you’ll collect your rental vehicle for your New Zealand holiday

Today you’ll collect your rental vehicle for your New Zealand holiday. You can choose from an extensive range of late model cars and 4WD vehicles, from Europcar, Budget or Hertz. Driving distance and time: 263 kms / 164 miles : 3.2 hours

Travel to Hobbiton Village in Matamata, then on to Waitomo where you’ll stay in your very own Hobbit Hole.

Auckland to Matamata and Hobbiton: The drive south from Auckland on State Highway 1 quickly takes you into rolling green farmland and the rich dairy pasture of the Waikato. The Bombay Hills mark the outer boundary of great Auckland and its here you turn inland to central Waikato. This is hobbit country and the route takes you to the town of Matamata where you can still visit the film locations made famous in the Lord of the Rings trilogy at Hobbiton Movie Set and Farm Tours.

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour: Discover the real Middle-earth on the most picturesque private farmland, where you can visit the Hobbiton Movie Set from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films in a fascinating 2 hour guided tour. Your tour starts with a drive through the picturesque 1,250 acre sheep farm with spectacular views across to the Kaimai Ranges. Your guide will escort you through the twelve acre site recounting fascinating details of how the Hobbiton Movie set was created. The Hobbit holes, Green Dragon Inn, Mill and other structures created for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films can be viewed and you will see how this beautiful piece of Waikato farmland was transformed into The Shire from Middle-Earth.

Matamata to Waitomo: Heading west toward the coast after about 45 minutes visit historic Cambridge as it offers something interesting for everyone. Cambridge has a Tree Trail that takes in the town square and the hidden treasure of Lake Te Ko Uta. Centred around a traditional English Village Green, Victoria Square, Cambridge has the real feel of an English country town. A host of cafes and antique stores can help you while away an afternoon. A further 45 minutes of driving will bring you to the delightful Kiwiana town of Otorohanga. Kiwiana is a celebration of New Zealand’s popular culture – its icons, heroes and traditions – everything from the Kiwi, Buzzy Bee, Paua and Pavlova, to Sir Edmund Hillary, Colin Meads and the All Blacks, from shearing and sheep dog trials to the haka and Hokey Pokey icecream.

The Kiwi House and native bird park is owned and operated by the Otorohanga Zoological Society, Inc., a non-profit organisation dedicated to the conservation of New Zealand’s native wildlife through education, display and breeding programs. Within the park you will find nocturnal kiwi houses, New Zealand’s largest aviary, Live Tuataras and many of New Zealand native and endangered birds. You could encounter kiwi, morepork, pukeko and wekas. Also New Zealand’s native parrots such as kea, kaka and kakariki. The park offers a chance to see many native animals you might be very lucky to encounter in the wild. After a short drive from Otorohanga you will reach the limestone hills that form the Waitomo region and its famous cave complex.

Accommodation: Woodlyn Park Waitomo
Room type: Motels – economy

4

Day 4: Explore the underground world of Waitomo.

Waitomo Adventures Lost World Tour (4 hours).

Abseil (rappel) 100m slowly into the Lost World, secured by your guide who abseils alongside. After the approximately 30 minute decent, you embark on your journey back to the surface though another spectacular dry cavern. The abseil is at least twice the height of any other cave at Waitomo and the beauty of this iconic cavern is unsurpassed. Descend slowly bouncing and turning as the mist filtered light gives unreal qualities to the strange plants and formations.

Accommodation: Woodlyn Park Waitomo
Room type: Motels – economy

5

Day 5: Tongariro

Continue south to Tongariro, along the way you could take a side trip to Staddles Farm and Trollshaw Forest in Piopio

Driving distance and time: 151 kms / 94 miles : 1.8 hours. Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops.

Driving south from Waitomo you’ll pass through the rugged rural countryside of the King Country, named after the Maori King Tawhiao who lived in exile here in the mid 1800’s. Limestone formations are also a feature of the region, as well as Waitomo, nearby Piopio has some remarkable cliffs which were filmed for the Hobbit movies. Your destination of Tongariro National Park was established in 1887 after the Maori chief Te Heuheu Tukino IV gifted the sacred peaks to the nation. It was also only the fourth place on earth to be given recognition as a World Heritage area.

At the heart of the park are three active volcanoes, Tongariro, Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe. Despite the barren and sometimes inhospitable environment, the region abounds with flora and fauna. The Tongariro Crossing is one of New Zealand’s Great Walks and there are many other tracks and trails to suit all capabilities. Also lying within the park is two of New Zealand’s largest ski fields, Whakapapa and Turoa.

Accommodation: Bayview Chateau Tongariro
Room type: Hotel 4 star

6

Day 6: Today you'll take a spectacular flight over Mt Doom and Mordor.

Volcanic Explorer Scenic Flight by Aeroplane.

Experience the breathtaking views of New Zealand’s oldest National Park and World Heritage Site with a scenic flight over the dramatic landscape of the area. See into the live craters of Mt Tongariro, Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Ruapehu, and view the spectacular lakes on the mountains, the Emerald Lakes, the Blue Lake and the Tama Lakes. The Volcanic Explorer is the most popular flight climbing to 10,000 feet over all three volcanoes in the Tongariro National Park including the active crater lake of Mt Ruapehu and you get the chance to see some Lord of the Rings locations used in the making of the trilogy.

Walking tracks in and around Whakapapa Village, Tongariro National Park.

There are many walks and hikes in and around Whakapapa Village in Tongariro National Park. Located in the village is a Department of Conservation information centre and you can get updates on track conditions and suitability here plus you can learn about the area, its natural history and its people. Read up on our blog about popular walks in the area.

Accommodation: Bayview Chateau Tongariro
Room type: Hotel 4 star

7

Day 7: Wellington

Head south to the movie making city of Wellington. Driving distance and time: 320 kms / 199 miles : 3.9 hours.

Tongariro to Wellington – Leaving Whakapapa Village and onto the central plateau and the high country Rangipo Desert. Skirting Tongariro National Park, one of New Zealand’s three world heritage sites and clouds permitting you can see the 2,500 metre peak of the still volcanically active Mt. Ruapehu. You might recognise the symmetrical shape of Mt. Ngauruhoe as this was used as the scenery of Mt. Doom in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

A little further the military town of Waiouru also hosts the Army Museum, an incredible collection of New Zealand’s military history and a memorial to its servicemen. Heading south you pass through the rural towns of Taihape, Mangaweka and Bulls before arriving on the Kapiti Coast. The coastal seaside towns of Paraparaumu, Paekakariki and Plimmerton are worth a short detour before arriving into the capital city of Wellington. Plan to take most of the day for this drive. Wellington City is New Zealand’s capital. It sits on a wonderful deep natural harbour and is surrounded by bush clad hills.

The city centre itself is quite compact (only around 1 square kilometre) and so exploring on foot is relatively easy. From your city centre accommodation you can easily stroll the cafes and restaurants around Courtenay Place and if you arrive early enough New Zealand;s national museum, Te Papa, is also close by.

Accommodation: City Life Wellington
Room type: Apartments

8

Day 8: Spend the day discovering the filming locations of Wellington

Middle Earth Film Locations Half Day Tour.

This half-day tour reveals the key film locations within an hour of central Wellington. Highlights include the outskirts of the Shire, the Gardens of Isengard, the River Anduin, and the sites of Helm’s Deep and Minas Tirith. Stroll where the hobbits raced to the ferry and hid from the Nazgul, through the elf kingdom of Rivendell and beside the Fords of Isen.

Accommodation: City Life Wellington
Room type: Apartments

9

Day 9: Lord of the Rings and Hobbit special effects

Today you’ll visit the genius behind the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit special effects at the Weta Cave.

New Zealand’s capital, Wellington, sits on a large natural harbour and is often referred to as “Windy Wellington” due to the strong winds whipped up in the Cook Strait, the stretch of water separating the North and South Islands. It is the world’s most southern capital city and the only city in the world that lies within the “roaring forties” latitudes. Wellington is also home to a selection of great museums such as Te Papa, New Zealand’s national museum (not to be missed), The National Library and the Museum of Wellington City and Sea. Wellington has excellent shopping, theatre, cafes and restaurants and being only 2 kilometres wide the majority can easily be explored on foot.

The Weta Cave mini-museum brings you face to face with some of the characters, props and displays from your favourite movies, including The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings movies. Read the stories of how they were brought to life and learn about the artists who created them. Watch the behind-the-scenes film including interviews with Weta co-founders Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor, Tania Rodger and Jamie Selkirk, giving you an insight into the creativity and imagination that goes into crafting the art of Weta. You then join your hosts for a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the workings of Weta Workshop with a guided tour in their newly opened exhibition space. See some of the props and models Weta have created over the years. Learn about some the processes used to make their cool stuff! Please keep in mind that many of the projects that Weta Workshop has been involved in do contain scenes and special effects work that may not be suitable for sensitive people.

Guided tours run from 10am to 5pm. Tours take approx 45 minutes.

Accommodation: City Life Wellington
Room type: Apartments

10

Day 10: Explore Wellington

Explore more of Wellington before dropping your rental car at the airport depot and continuing your onward journey.
Driving distance and time: 6 kms / 4 miles : 0.1 hours

1

City Life, Auckland. Accommodation features:

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 2-5 mins
  • Parking: onsite paid parking NZ$30-NZ$35 per 24 hrs
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Breakfast service available
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Kitchen/kitchenette in room
  • Room service available
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • Laundry facilities: Dry cleaning service available
  • Swimming pool
  • Gym/fitness centre
2

Woodlyn Park, Waitomo: Accommodation features:

  • Check in time: 1 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 15-20 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Kitchen/kitchenette in room
3

Bayview Chateau Tongariro : Accommodation features:

  • Check in time: 3 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room paid access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Breakfast service available
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Hairdryer
  • Gym/fitness centre
  • All rooms non smoking
New Zealand SElf Drive middle earth 10 days
AD302-Auckland-Harbour-Bridge-Auckland-A-J-Hackett-Bungy-New-Zealand self drive Middle earth tour NZ
New Zealand self drives Weta-Cave-Museum-Wellington-Weta-Workshops