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The Essential Middle Earth Tour of the North Island

9 nights, Auckland to Wellington

The Essential Middle Earth Tour of the North Island

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, the creative genius behind the movies.  In Waitomo, you'll stay in your very own Hobbit Hole!

Tour map

Included in this New Zealand self drive holiday

Auckland Harbour, New Zealand
Glow Worms, Waitomo, New Zealand
Tongariro National Park, New Zealand
Weta Cave, Wellington, New Zealand
Tour map
 

Day 1 - Welcome to Auckland, transfer to your accommodation and rest of day at leisure

Personal meet and greet, and private transfer to your accommodation

On arrival you will be met by one of our team and driven to your Auckland accommodation.

Your tour documentation pack and support

Your tour documentation pack and support
Your tour documentation pack and support
Your tour documentation pack and support
Your tour documentation pack and support

Once you touch down in New Zealand your detailed tour pack will be hand delivered by one of our trusted representatives. The pack contains everything you need for the duration of your stay. It will include a comprehensive, printed and bound version of your itinerary as well as clear driving instructions and maps for each leg of your journey. It also contains all the reservation details for your accommodation and activities - along with relevant brochures and information. While in New Zealand we offer 24 hour support - details on how to contact us at any time will be well documented.

Welcome to Auckland City

Welcome to Auckland City
Welcome to Auckland City
Welcome to Auckland City
Welcome to Auckland City

Auckland, New Zealand’s self-proclaimed ‘City of Sails’ is the country’s largest metro area. Resting between the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea, this urban paradise has something for everyone. Surrounded by native bush, rainforests and an abundance of beaches, Auckland is a playground for both the city savvy and those with an eye for adventure. Explore the central museums and galleries on foot, or take a drive through one of over 800 regional National Parks to see deserted beaches, waterfalls and native forest.

Accommodation: SkyCity Hotel Auckland

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Accommodation: SkyCity Hotel Auckland
Accommodation: SkyCity Hotel Auckland
Accommodation: SkyCity Hotel Auckland
Accommodation: SkyCity Hotel Auckland

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 3 pm
  • Check out time: 11 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 1-2 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
  • Room service available
  • Hairdryer

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

Bush and Beach Coast and Rainforest Full Day Tour

Bush and Beach Coast and Rainforest Full Day Tour
Bush and Beach Coast and Rainforest Full Day Tour
Bush and Beach Coast and Rainforest Full Day Tour
Bush and Beach Coast and Rainforest Full Day Tour

Your full day excursion takes you first to the Arataki Visitor Centre - gateway to the Waitakere Ranges and a short drive from Auckland Central. Enjoy panoramic views - extending from the Tasman Sea to the Pacific Ocean - as you absorb the area's history and admire the magnificent traditional Maori carvings. Walk the regenerating rainforest where your experienced guide will detail local flora and fauna. Take in the giant tree ferns, bubbling streams and cascading waterfalls before venturing onto a wild west coast beach. Enjoy a picnic lunch before your eco-tour ends in an area of untamed original rainforest. Here, mature 1,000 year old kauri trees have developed separately from the rest of the world for millions of years and this part of the rainforest is particularly rich in bird life due to a successful programme to eradicate pests.

Accommodation: SkyCity Hotel Auckland

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Lunch

Accommodation: SkyCity Hotel Auckland
Accommodation: SkyCity Hotel Auckland
Accommodation: SkyCity Hotel Auckland
Accommodation: SkyCity Hotel Auckland

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Day 3 - Travel to Hobbiton Village in Matamata, then on to Waitomo where you'll stay in your very own Hobbit Hole

Driving distance and time: 263 kms / 164 miles : 3.2 hours

Times are 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.

Collect your rental car

Collect your rental car
Collect your rental car
Collect your rental car
Collect your rental car

Our rental car range includes the latest vehicles from the top suppliers. Insurance is included with a small excess or deductible. All airport fees, additional driver fees and unlimited kilometres are also included. To help you navigate your way around New Zealand all rentals also come with GPS. Our range included small compact cars to mid-size saloons to large 4WD and people movers.

GPS navigation system

Use the latest GPS technology as you tour New Zealand. Your portable GPS features a simple touch screen interface with automatic route calculation and turn-by-turn voice-prompted directions including street name announcement. The automotive-grade GPS unit is easy to use and has multiple language options.

Auckland to Matamata and Hobbiton

Auckland to Matamata and Hobbiton
Auckland to Matamata and Hobbiton
Auckland to Matamata and Hobbiton
Auckland to Matamata and Hobbiton

As you drive South on State Highway one you'll  go through the rich farming community and dairy pastures of the Waikato king country.  Passing the Bombay Hills - the outer boundary of the greater Auckland area - you'll turn inland towards Matamata. This is the real Middle Earth, and its here you can see many locations used in the filming of The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit as well as visiting the actual set of Hobbiton.

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour
Hobbiton Movie Set Tour
Hobbiton Movie Set Tour
Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

Today visit the actual Hobbiton movie set from the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films. In the heart of the Waikato farming region, take a two hour tour through Hobbit Holes, The Green Dragon Inn, The Mill and The Party Tree - all the while hearing behind-the-scenes tales and learning about the making of the films. You'll also have the opportunity to tour a picturesque sheep farm for an insight into New Zealand's most notorious animal resident. 

Matamata to Waitomo

Matamata to Waitomo
Matamata to Waitomo
Matamata to Waitomo
Matamata to Waitomo

Today you'll head towards the coast to arrive in Waitomo. Stop in historic Cambridge, home to a host of cafes, antique stores and a large village green. Cambridge has the feel of a traditional English country town and noteworthy buildings include St. Andrew's church, the old water tower and original courthouse. Cambridge is also the centre of New Zealand’s equine industry, and an impressive bronze horse sculpture pays tribute to its history.

Continue on to Otorohanga - renowned for its celebration of New Zealand's popular culture 'Kiwiana.' Stop for a visit to the ‘Kiwi House’ a native bird park owned and operated by the Otorohanga Zoological Society, Inc. Dedicated to the conservation of New Zealand's native wildlife. Within the park you will find nocturnal kiwi houses, Tuataras and many native and endangered birds. From Otorohanga it is only a short drive to the limestone hills that mark the Waitomo region and its famous cave complex.

Accommodation: Abseil Breakfast Inn

Accommodation type: Bed & breakfast (B&B)

Accommodation: Abseil Breakfast Inn
Accommodation: Abseil Breakfast Inn
Accommodation: Abseil Breakfast Inn
Accommodation: Abseil Breakfast Inn

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 3 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Includes continental breakfast
  • Includes cooked breakfast

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Day 4 - Delve into the underground world of Waitomo

Waitomo Adventures Lost World Tour (4 hours)

Waitomo Adventures Lost World Tour (4 hours)
Waitomo Adventures Lost World Tour (4 hours)
Waitomo Adventures Lost World Tour (4 hours)
Waitomo Adventures Lost World Tour (4 hours)

Abseil 100m into a spectacular world of prehistoric forest, glow-worms, rivers, flowstone formations and massive caverns. Explore the depths before ascending a gigantic ladder through the craggy upper levels of the 'Spider Hole'. Nothing short of sensational, this underground adventure is 4 hours in length.

Accommodation: Abseil Breakfast Inn

Accommodation type: Bed & breakfast (B&B)

Accommodation: Abseil Breakfast Inn
Accommodation: Abseil Breakfast Inn
Accommodation: Abseil Breakfast Inn
Accommodation: Abseil Breakfast Inn

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Day 5 - Continue south to Tongariro National Park

Driving distance and time: 151 kms / 94 miles : 1.8 hours

Times are 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.

Waitomo to Whakapapa Village

Waitomo to Whakapapa Village
Waitomo to Whakapapa Village
Waitomo to Whakapapa Village
Waitomo to Whakapapa Village

Today you'll head into the heart of the Central Volcanic Plateau, Tongariro National Park. Follow the road through lush King Country to arrive into this World Heritage Park, home to three active volcanoes - Tongariro, Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe - as well as many walking tracks, adventure activities and the renowned Tongariro Crossing.

Accommodation: Bayview Chateau Tongariro

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Accommodation: Bayview Chateau Tongariro
Accommodation: Bayview Chateau Tongariro
Accommodation: Bayview Chateau Tongariro
Accommodation: 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

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

Volcanic Explorer Scenic Flight by Aeroplane

Volcanic Explorer Scenic Flight by Aeroplane
Volcanic Explorer Scenic Flight by Aeroplane
Volcanic Explorer Scenic Flight by Aeroplane
Volcanic Explorer Scenic Flight by Aeroplane

Take a scenic flight over New Zealand's oldest National Park and world heritage site for a spectacular view of this unique volcanic landscape. See all three volcanoes - Mt. Tongariro, Mt. Ngauruhoe and Mt. Ruapehu as well as the iconic Emerald Lakes, the Blue Lake and the Tama lake. Climbing to 10,000 ft, you'll also view the active Mount Ruapehu crater lake, and spot some of the landscapes used in the making of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Walking tracks in and around Whakapapa Village, Tongariro National Park

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

There are a plethora of walks in and around Whakapapa Village and Tongariro National Park. From short 15 minute hikes to longer 5 hour treks, there is something for every level of fitness. All established tracks are maintained by the Department of Conservation and before heading out on a walk, it is best to check the track conditions and suitability at the local DOC information office in the centre of the village. Below are a selection of the best walks to do:

  1. Whakapapa Nature Walk,15 min loop track
  2. Mounds Walk, 20 min one way
  3. Tawhai Falls, 20 min one way
  4. Ridge Track, 340 min return
  5. Taranaki Falls, 2 hour return
  6. Whakapapanui Walk, 2 hour return
  7. Tupapakurua Falls Track, 5 hour return

Accommodation: Bayview Chateau Tongariro

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Accommodation: Bayview Chateau Tongariro
Accommodation: Bayview Chateau Tongariro
Accommodation: Bayview Chateau Tongariro
Accommodation: Bayview Chateau Tongariro

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Day 7 - Head down the coast to the vibrant metro area of Wellington

Driving distance and time: 320 kms / 199 miles : 3.9 hours

Times are 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.

Whakapapa Village to Wellington

Whakapapa Village to Wellington
Whakapapa Village to Wellington
Whakapapa Village to Wellington
Whakapapa Village to Wellington

Today head south down the coast to New Zealand's capital, Wellington. Leaving Whakapapa Village, make your way through the Rangipo Desert around Tongariro National Park. See active volcano Mt Ruapehu, and recognise Mt. Ngauruhoe - better known as Mt Doom - from the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

A little further you'll come to the  military town of Waiouru, home to the New Zealand Army museum and a unique collection of military history.

Continue south to the rural towns of Taihape, Mangaweka and Bulls before arriving on the spectacular Kapiti Coast. Take a short detour to the quaint seaside town of Paraparaumu before arriving into Wellington City.

Accommodation: CityLife Wellington

Accommodation type: Apartments

Accommodation: CityLife Wellington
Accommodation: CityLife Wellington
Accommodation: CityLife Wellington
Accommodation: CityLife Wellington

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 1-2 mins
  • Parking: onsite paid parking NZ$20-NZ$30 per 24 hrs
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Breakfast service available
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Kitchen/kitchenette in room
  • Room service available
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: In room
  • Gym/fitness centre

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Day 8 - Spend the day discovering the LOTR filming locations in Wellington

Middle Earth Film Locations Half Day Tour

Middle Earth Film Locations Half Day Tour
Middle Earth Film Locations Half Day Tour
Middle Earth Film Locations Half Day Tour
Middle Earth Film Locations Half Day Tour

In a small group, you will head out to the Valley to explore the filming locations for Rivendell where Frodo recovered from his knife attack; the River Anduin where the Fellowship voyaged to Amon Hen; the Gardens of Isengard, where Gandalf rode to see Saruman and the site of the orcs felling the trees; see the quarry used for the filming of Helms Deep in Rohan and Minas Tirith in Gondor. Then back to the City to visit the Mount Victoria lookout and Buckland Forest where you can take a "shortcut to mushrooms", "get of the road" and hide where the Hobbits hid from the Black Riders before taking a run to the Buckleberry Ferry and discovering Dunharrow Rohirrim encampment along the way.

Accommodation: CityLife Wellington

Accommodation type: Apartments

Accommodation: CityLife Wellington
Accommodation: CityLife Wellington
Accommodation: CityLife Wellington
Accommodation: CityLife Wellington

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Day 9 - Today explore Wellington, then visit Weta Cave, the genius behind the LOTR and Hobbit special effects

Wellington

Wellington
Wellington
Wellington
Wellington

Wellington, home to New Zealand’s centre of government has a largely cosmopolitan feel. Often referred to as ‘mini-Melbourne’, this (self described) windy city is a melting pot of art, culture, food and fashion. Quirky laneway bars, underground art shows, and hipster eateries make up its inner city vibe, while a host of sandy beaches outside the urban bustle bring a cheerful holiday feel.

Take a turn on the boardwalk en-route to Te Papa, New Zealand's national museum or catch a historic cable car from Lambton Quay and soak up the city sights. Wander the boutiques on Cuba St and check out the aptly named ‘Beehive’ off Parliament House.

Play hobbit for day and book a tour through Weta Workshop, the Oscar Award winning design studio for Lord Of The Rings. If eating is your thing, drive an hour out of town to Martinborough and experience some of the region's best food and wine. For those interested in New Zealand's native species, a trip to Zealandia is a must - the world's first fully fenced eco-sanctuary. Then kick off your evening in style - search ‘Metro Eats’ to choose from a plethora of the city’s best restaurants to dine.
 

Weta Cave and Windows into the Workshop Tour

Weta Cave and Windows into the Workshop Tour
Weta Cave and Windows into the Workshop Tour
Weta Cave and Windows into the Workshop Tour
Weta Cave and Windows into the Workshop Tour

Step into a world of fantasy when you visit the The Weta Cave, a mini-museum filled with props, characters and displays from well known movies including Avatar, The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Hear stories of how these figures were brought to life and learn about the artists who created them. Watch behind-the-scenes interviews from Weta co-founders Sir Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor, Tania Rodger and Jamie Selkirk - and gain insight into the creativity and imagination that comes with crafting the art of Weta.

You'll also take a guided tour through the inner workings of Weta Workshop and learn about its processes and design elements. Please keep in mind that many of the projects that Weta Workshop has been involved in contain graphic scenes and special effects that may not be suitable for everyone.

Accommodation: CityLife Wellington

Accommodation type: Apartments

Accommodation: CityLife Wellington
Accommodation: CityLife Wellington
Accommodation: CityLife Wellington
Accommodation: CityLife Wellington

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Day 10 - See more of New Zealand's capital city then depart for your onward journey

Driving distance and time: 6 kms / 4 miles : 0.1 hours

Times are 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.

Depart Wellington today

Choose to explore more of Wellington's sights before dropping your rental car at the airport depot and continuing your onward journey.

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