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.

Advertisements
Tandem Skydiving over snow-covered Queenstown

New Zealand Winter Road Trips

Winter in New Zealand is mild (compared to North America and Europe) and still has plenty to offer road tripping travellers.

If you want to avoid the summer crowds, but still experience New Zealand at its most breath-taking, winter road trips are a good option.

Parts of the North Island are sub-tropical – meaning the winter months are still mild and great for travel.  The average winter temperature in the Bay of Islands is a balmy 16 degrees Celsius and can reach the mid-20’s occasionally.

In the South Island you’ll find cool sub-zero temperatures overnight and crisp sunny days.  When travelling from Christchurch to Queenstown there is no shortage of snow-capped scenery to take in.

Winter is a superb time to travel in New Zealand if alpine sports are your passion.  In the North Island you will find Mt Ruapehu (and its two ski areas – Whakapapa and Turoa), and in the South Island there are dozens of ski areas stretching from Rainbow Ski Area in the Nelson region, to The Remarkables and Coronet Peak in Queenstown.

KiwiCombo Pass is a great option when considering a New Zealand road trip.  The flexible pass options include Thrifty Car rental car hire and your choice of motel or hotel accommodationActivities can also be added for extra convenience.

Visit the KiwiCombo Pass website for more information.

Queenstown Skyline Gondola

Queenstown’s Skyline Gondola is a “must do”. And doing it early in your Queenstown visit will give you an excellent overview of the region’s geography.

The Queenstown Skyline Gondola is an excellent way to get a bird’s eye view of Queenstown resort, Lake Wakatipu and surrounding mountains.  By doing it early during your stay, you’ll get a good overview of the region’s geographic features which will help you find your way around.

It only takes a few minutes by gondola to ride the 450 vertical metres from the base station to the Skyline complex on Bob’s Peak.  If you can, ride up and down with your back to the hill so you get the primo views across the lake to the Remarkables Mountains, Cecil Peak and Walter Peak.

The Skyline complex is open 365 days, 0900 until late.  As well as offering stunning vistas from the viewing platforms, the complex also features a daytime cafe, Skyline Restaurant with buffet lunch and dinner,the Kiwi Haka live performance of authentic Maori songs and dances, downhill luge rides, star gazing and mountain bike trails. 

If time is precious, then allowing just 30-45 minutes at the start or end of your day will still be very rewarding.  The lower sun early morning or at dusk also makes for spectacular photos.  But if you have more time to linger and enjoy some of the additional activities, you’ll be assured of a great time.