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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

Private transfer Auckland airport to your accommodation

On arrival, you will be met by a private driver and transferred to your Auckland accommodation.

Itinerary information by APP & in country support

Access to our exclusive New Zealand Touring APP. The APP includes your full itinerary and reservation details, all available online and offline as well as lots of other great information such as restaurant guides, weather forecasts and local activity suggestions. Instant itinerary updates and changes are available and it's easy to keep in touch with us. The App is free and easy to download on your mobile using Android or IOS.
You also have access to our free call number and after-hours service if you require support while on tour.

Welcome to Auckland

Welcome to Auckland
Welcome to Auckland
Welcome to Auckland
Welcome to Auckland

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: CityLife Auckland

Accommodation type: Apartments

Accommodation: CityLife Auckland
Accommodation: CityLife Auckland
Accommodation: CityLife Auckland
Accommodation: CityLife Auckland

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 2-5 mins
  • Parking: valet paid parking NZ$40-NZ$50 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: Drycleaning service available
  • Swimming pool
  • Gym/fitness centre

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

Coast and Rainforest Full Day Tour with Bush and Beach

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

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: CityLife Auckland

Accommodation type: Apartments

Meals included: Lunch

Accommodation: CityLife Auckland
Accommodation: CityLife Auckland
Accommodation: CityLife Auckland
Accommodation: CityLife 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

Head southbound on State Highway one through the lush farmland and dairy pastures of the Waikato region. The Bombay Hills mark the outer boundary of the greater Auckland area and its here you turn inland towards Matamata. This is the real Middle Earth, and you'll 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 from Shires Rest

Hobbiton Movie Set tour from Shires Rest
Hobbiton Movie Set tour from Shires Rest
Hobbiton Movie Set tour from Shires Rest
Hobbiton Movie Set tour from Shires Rest

Become immersed in the The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films when you visit the actual Hobbiton movie set. Located just outside of Matamata - in the heart the lush Waikato farming region, your tour will begin with a drive through a picturesque sheep farm. You'll then be taken through Hobbit Holes, the Green Dragon Inn, the Mill and the Party Tree while your guide shares behind-the-scenes tales and insight into the making of the films.

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: Waitomo Caves Guest Lodge

Accommodation type: Bed & breakfast (B&B)

Accommodation: Waitomo Caves Guest Lodge
Accommodation: Waitomo Caves Guest Lodge
Accommodation: Waitomo Caves Guest Lodge
Accommodation: Waitomo Caves Guest Lodge

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 1-2 mins
  • Internet facilities: On site free access
  • Includes continental breakfast
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site

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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: Waitomo Caves Guest Lodge

Accommodation type: Bed & breakfast (B&B)

Accommodation: Waitomo Caves Guest Lodge
Accommodation: Waitomo Caves Guest Lodge
Accommodation: Waitomo Caves Guest Lodge
Accommodation: Waitomo Caves Guest Lodge

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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.

Hairy Feet Scenic Film Location Tour

Hairy Feet Scenic Film Location Tour
Hairy Feet Scenic Film Location Tour
Hairy Feet Scenic Film Location Tour
Hairy Feet Scenic Film Location Tour

Visit the stunning farm location at Mangaotaki Rocks Piopio - near Waitomo - where the troll and campfire scenes in 'The Hobbit' were filmed. You'll see the towering limestone cliffs, massive rock formations and primeval forest that make up the location for Staddle Farm and Trollshaws. You can also have your photo taken in the exact spot where Bilbo received his magical sword 'Sting' from Gandalf. You'll join a personally guided tour of several key filming locations including the site where the Orcs and Wargs began attacking and the 'exit from the cave' containing the troll hoard.

Waitomo to Whakapapa Village

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

Travel south into the heart of the Central Volcanic Plateau, Tongariro National Park. Leaving the limestone hills of Waitomo, follow the road through lush King Country pastures, named after the Maori King Tawhiao who lived here in exile during the mid 1800's. Continue on to arrive in 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: Tongariro Crossing Lodge

Accommodation type: Motels - economy

Accommodation: Tongariro Crossing Lodge
Accommodation: Tongariro Crossing Lodge
Accommodation: Tongariro Crossing Lodge
Accommodation: Tongariro Crossing Lodge

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 2-5 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Breakfast service available
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Kitchen/kitchenette in room
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 6 - Today relax and explore the area around Mt Doom

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: Tongariro Crossing Lodge

Accommodation type: Motels - economy

Accommodation: Tongariro Crossing Lodge
Accommodation: Tongariro Crossing Lodge
Accommodation: Tongariro Crossing Lodge
Accommodation: Tongariro Crossing Lodge

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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

Your drive today takes you from the North Island Volcanic Plateau to New Zealand's capital, Wellington. Leaving Whakapapa Village, make your way through the Rangipo Desert, skirting the edges of the Tongariro National Park, one of New Zealand’s three world heritage sites.

Catch a glimpse of the volcanically active Mt Ruapehu and if you're Lord of the Rings fan, you'll enjoy seeing the symmetrical Mt. Ngauruhoe - better known as Mt Doom. A little further is 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 very best filming locations Wellington has to offer. See 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, 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 find the "shortcut to mushrooms" then "get off 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 Workshop Tour

Weta Cave Workshop Tour
Weta Cave Workshop Tour
Weta Cave Workshop Tour
Weta Cave 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

Depart Wellington today
Depart Wellington today
Depart Wellington today
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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