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.

Queenstown Panorama

Winter Rental Car Safety

By Destination Queenstown

Staying safe in your New Zealand rental car during the winter is easy, if you know what to expect.

Snow and Ice

Winter in New Zealand runs from June to August, but you’ll often find late snow flurries around the country’s alpine areas well into September.

If you do find yourself driving in snowy conditions make sure you carry snow chains in your vehicle.  Most New Zealand rental car companies provide chains. In some areas of New Zealand, such as the Queenstown Lakes District, there are heavy fines imposed for travellers who are unable to fit chains when asked by traffic enforcement officers.

Whilst heavy, prolonged North America or Europe-style snowfall is rare in New Zealand, you will often encounter sub-zero temperatures and icy roads.  Black ice (patches of ice on the road that are not visible to the eye) are common during winter, so always take your time on cold mornings and slow down around sharp bends.

Check the Conditions

Before setting out on your journey check the weather forecast and any road road closure warnings.

Metservice (weather forecast)

AA Roadwatch (road closures)

If you do find your intended route is closed, visit the local i-SITE Visitor Centre to find an alternative.

Take Your Time

New Zealand is a very scenic country.  Don’t rush from point A to point B – take your time!  Unlike the super highways of Europe and North America, New Zealand roads are often very scenic and winding.  A journey that might look short on the map can take longer than you think.

Stop often, rest and revive and take in the beautiful views!

KiwiCombo Pass travel passes are a great way to enjoy New Zealand during the winter.  Choose your Thrifty rental car and hotel or motel accommodation and enjoy New Zealand at your own pace.