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.

New Zealand Honeymoons on a Cheap & Cheerful Budget

New Zealand is a renowned honeymoon destination for the rich and famous, but simple pleasures can make them affordable & achievable. So live the dream!

New Zealand is a renowned honeymoon destination for the rich and famous.  But with some smart planning, realistic objectives and focus on enjoying the great, natural outdoors, New Zealand is a very achievable honeymoon or anniversary vacation for those on a more modest budget.  Sometimes it’s the simple pleasures that make the best memories!

Enjoy cycling through the vineyards together.We would all like to be pampered at a luxury lodge or 5 star resort hotel, but when reality kicks in and choices have to be made there is a good range of affordable accommodation alternatives available.  New Zealand’s motel accommodation is generally excellent value and offers you a “home away from home” with your own living area, kitchen, ensuite and bathroom.  Instead of dining out every night, perhaps self cater some evenings.  It’s fun to explore local markets for fresh fish and meat, vegetables and fruit and create your own style of dining, with a kiwi twist.  Try our succulent lamb, farmed salmon and salad ingredients straight from the market gardens.  Many motels have free barbecue facilities in picturesque garden settings which provide the ideal setting for a relaxing, balmy summer evening.

Purchasing a cooler bag to keep in your rental car is a great way to take food items with you.  Having snacks and lunch on hand when you discover a deserted beach or quiet riverbank is very convenient and offers you the opportunity to spend more time at these special places rather than hunting out cafes and food stores to replenish the energy levels.

Unlike some countries, New Zealand’s breathtakingly beautiful National Parks are easy to visit.  They offer some of the most outstanding scenic landscapes, accessible by well maintained hiking trails that often lead to cascading waterfalls, remote lakes and majestic forests and native bush.  Take a picnic lunch in your day pack and spend entire days enjoying and sharing these spectacular natural attractions.  Find your own stretch of golden sand beach.  You won’t need your credit card.  Just leave your footprints in the sand until the next tide.

With a little planning and creative thinking it’s very possible to keep the budget under control.  Admire the landscapes, savour the fresh air and space – they don’t cost anything, but they are very valuable, simple pleasures.  Check out some helpful sampleNew Zealand itineraries to use as a starting point, make smart decisions about your travel expenses, prioritise where you want to spend your budget.  For example, after a few nights in good quality 3 star accommodation, you might like to treat yourself to some 4 or 5 star luxury for the next couple of nights.  This adds variety, helps the affordability and makes your honeymoon very special indeed.

So, if New Zealand is on your horizon as a honeymoon or romantic holiday destination, start planning now!

Dunedin Farmers Market

Located in the carpark of the spectacular Dunedin Railway Station, the Dunedin Farmers Market is a “must do” for food lovers visiting Dunedin.

Go early!  That is the best advice for any visitor heading to the Dunedin Farmers Market.  Officially called the Otago Farmers Market because the heavenly fresh produce comes from all around the district,  this event is held every Saturday morning from early until about noon.  Skip breakfast and head to the spectacular Dunedin Railway Station where the market is held in the adjacent carpark.

At 9.30am there is still room to move, wander from stall to stall, sampling this and that, chat with the growers.  By 10.30 it’s elbow to elbow – but still fun!  From whitebait patties to fried dumplings, fresh coffee to pinot noir wines, hand-made breads, muffins and cupcakes to fresh vegetables, exquisite cheeses, meats direct from the local farms and fish straight from the ocean.  It’s all here but you’ll need an exploratory circuit to absorb all the offerings first.  Then go around again and choose your favourites.  The colour and music all add to the sensory experience.

If you’re staying in motel or apartment accommodation with cooking facilities a visit to the market offers the opportunity to stock up for a couple of days with fresh and unique food that is distinctively “New Zealand”.  If you love food and wine, then take the time to chat with the growers and producers and get some handy preparation tips.  Take a knapsack with a frozen cooler pack to keep the goodies nice and fresh.

Ideally allow at least an hour, but longer is better.  Your taste buds will thank you for it.