Queenstown LOTR & Much More Tour

This small group 4WD LOTR tour is a great combination of LOTR film locations, stunning outback alpine scenery and river gold panning.

Queenstown and Lord of the Rings are two world-renowned names and when they’re combined in to this half day tour, it’s magic!

LOTR - Film Location Deer Park HeightsWe explored the highlights and backroads of the Wakatipu Basin by tough, late model 4WD, visiting several LOTR film locations and enjoying the stunning alpine scenery around Queenstown.  Amazingly, the tour is quite close to Queenstown and yet a thrilling world away.

For adventurous LOTR fans this tour is the perfect combination of visits to several LOTR locations as well as outback 4WD river fording, gold panning and driving remote cliff-hanging roads.

Our small group guided tour departed Queenstown and headed for a remote lookout point overlooking Deer Park Heights and up to the “Misty Mountains”.  We saw where the Pillars of the Kings was filmed in the rugged Kawarau Gorge before driving across the Wakatipu Basin to the historic gold mining village of Arrowtown.  Here is where the loss of The One Ring at Gladden Fields was filmed.  To get to the Ford of Bruinen film location we criss-crossed the Arrow River several times.  Clearly the trick is to put the foot down on the peddle, keep moving and don’t worry about the water washing up over the hood!  Nature’s carwash!

Morning tea was laid out on the afore-mentioned, now clean, hood of the 4WD before we tried our hand at gold panning in the Arrow River.  Yes!  We struck gold, one flake and several pieces of gold dust.  Not exactly a gold rush but a lot of fun.

Kawarau Gorge, Pillars of the KingsWe then headed up the road to Coronet Peak ski area, turning off on to the 4WD road that winds its way into the remote and very spectacular Skippers Canyon.  At this stage everyone is hoping not to encounter an on-coming vehicle because passing bays are hard to come by and the sheer drop into the canyon goes down a l-o-n-g way!  The photo ops of Skippers Canyon and the Wakatipu Basin are amazing.

This trip punches above its weight in terms of value, with a winning combination of diverse and spectacular alpine scenery and LOTR film sites and stories.  The trip is operated by the very experienced and professional team at Nomad Safaris, departs twice daily from central Queenstown and is away for approx 4 hours.

Even for people who have visited Queenstown before, this tour still reveals new dimensions, with an informative commentary about local history, wildlife as well as stories and snippets about the LOTR filming.  A lot of fun!

For more top sightseeing options around New Zealand.

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New Zealand – with a Lord of the Rings twist

Travel around New Zealand on a self holiday and you will recognise breathtaking alpine landscapes from the world-famous LOTR and Hobbit movies.

Welcome to HobbitonNew Zealand is LOTR through and through.  Of course one of the most well known features of the movies is Hobbiton, which was built on a ten acre site within a working and very picturesque sheep and beef farm near Matamata.  Matamata is only 2 hours’ drive south-east of Auckland so if you’re heading to Rotorua, call in for a Hobbiton Movie Set and Farm Tour.  This outstanding guided tour is approximately 2 hours and you’ll hear fascinating details on how the Hobbiton set was created.  After your tour, Rotorua is just one hour’s drive away.  Depending on your travel arrangements you may prefer to combine Waitomo Caves with Hobbiton on a day trip from Auckland.
The Weta CaveOf course, Wellington is truly the middle of Middle Earth and if you’re a fan, then a minimum 2 night stop is essential here.  Mount Victoria, in the central city, is where the very first footage of The Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed in 1999.  The Embassy Theatre which hosted the movie premiers, Weta Cave Museum, Stone Street Studios, Lyall Bay…. Outer Shire, Isengard, Rivendell, River Anduin, Fords of Isen…  The easiest way to visit all of these wonderful icons is by guided tour so that you hear all the inside secrets as well!

In the South Island the breathtaking alpine landscapes of Mt Potts Station, located in the foothills west of Christchurch,  were transformed into Edoras, the capital of Rohan. Rocky outcrops formed from ancient glaciers include Mt Sunday which was used to create Edoras and Meduseld.  Again, a full day guided tour featuring stunningly beautiful lakes, rivers and mountains by 4WD is a great day out for LOTR fans.  See some of the Misty Mountains and the backdrop for Helms Deep.

Further south near Twizel you’ll discover Gondor!  Located on private land, it is not open to the public so a 2 hour local guided tour is essential for access.  You’ll be on location  with 360 degree views over the Pelennor Battlefield and the White Mountains.

And, of course, no visit to New Zealand is complete without experiencing Queenstown, itself surrounded by LOTR film locations. The full day guided tour here includes over 20 film locations plus a rare collection of costume items and weapons from the trilogy for you to photograph.


Remember that all these film sites are outdoors and many are in romote locations.  You’ll need to be reasonably fit to enjoy the walking and take a warm layer of clothing in case the weather turns unexpectedly, which is can do in alpine areas.

If LOTR and Hobbit movies are essential to your New Zealand vacation, then a well planned itinerary is a must to ensure you see the highlights.  If you prefer to create your own self drive holiday, with a LOTR twist, take some expert local advice during your planning stages to ensure you’re in the right place with sufficient time to enjoy the LOTR highlights.

The End!