Middle Earth Discovered
Auckland to Christchurch
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New Zealand tour itinerary name and information
Thrifty Tours

Middle Earth Discovered

Embark on a journey of Middle Earth and New Zealand. Visit official sites used in the filming of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies, whilst visiting some of New Zealand's most stunning attractions including glowworm caves, active geysers, dramatic mountains and deep fiords.

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Quick Itinerary Details

Independent tour (bus & coach)

This suggested tour costs from NZD$4,159 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Auckland, finishes in Christchurch

8 days/7 nights

Hotel 4 star

 Customisable? YES

 Viewed 581 times in the last 7 days

Tour at a glance

Day 1: Auckland to Waitomo Caves to Rotorua
Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Rotorua

Day 2: Visit to Hobbiton Village in the morning and an optional cultural evening at Te Pa Tu
Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Rotorua

Day 3: Rotorua to Wellington, the coolest little capital in the world
Accommodation: Copthorne Hotel Wellington Oriental Bay

Day 4: A full day Lord of The Rings focussed tour
Accommodation: Copthorne Hotel Wellington Oriental Bay

Day 5: Today you fly to Queenstown
Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Queenstown

Day 6: Full day tour into Milford Sound including cruise
Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Queenstown

Day 7: Take a 4WD LOTR safari than free time in Queenstown
Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Queenstown

Day 8: Queenstown to Christchurch

Tour full itinerary

Detailed itinerary: 8 day tour starting in Auckland

Day 1 - Auckland to Waitomo Caves to Rotorua
Middle Earth Discovered - Day 1
Auckland to Rotorua via Waitomo Caves and Te Puia Small Group Tour

On this tour, you will be picked up from the hotel in a comfortable mini-bus and driven through the stunning Waikato countryside on a fully guided journey to Waitomo Caves and Te Puia Geothermal Park.
During the journey to Waitomo, you will encounter New Zealand's longest river, beautiful mountains, and see several different farm animals along the way. Once in Waitomo, you will explore the ancient and amazing caves, with their many different cave formations including Stalactites, Stalagmites, and Lime Columns, before descending even further underground for your glowworm experience. Board your glowworm boat for a cruise on the grotto river with thousands of glowworms glittering above your head. Waitomo Glowworm Caves are a must-see for any traveller. Arriving at your second feature destination, Te Puia, you will receive a fully guided tour to best experience the geothermal and cultural wonders including Pōhutu Geyser, Māori Architecture, The National Māori Arts School, geothermal craters, geothermal events, and even the chance to view a Kiwi bird in the Kiwi viewing house.
Continue your adventure with another fully guided journey south to Rotorua, with many more attractions to see along the way, including hydro dams, rivers, and lots more animals. Once in Rotorua, you will be guided past many of its famous and historical sites, including Lake Rotorua, The Government Gardens, Blue Baths, Thermal Springs, and Polynesian Spa.

Your accommodation: Millennium Hotel Rotorua

Millennium Hotel is Rotorua's largest 4-star deluxe hotel. Perfectly situated in the heart of the city overlooking Lake Rotorua. Five levels of accommodation offer guests a wide variety of scenic views.
Meals included: Lunch
Day 2 - Visit to Hobbiton Village in the morning and an optional cultural evening at Te Pa Tu
Middle Earth Discovered - Day 2
Hobbiton Movie Set Tour from Rotorua with GreatSights

Setting out from Rotorua, your Hobbiton Movie Set tour starts with a scenic drive across the Kaimai Ranges to Matamata, a small town in the Waikato region known for its thoroughbred industry and dairy farming. Along the way, your local driver guide will provide informative commentary and share stories about the region and its history.
Just outside of Matamata is the private working farm that was transformed into The Shire for the award-winning The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movie trilogies. The home of Tolkien's beloved hobbits Bilbo, Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin has been preserved since filming wrapped, and now draws visitors from around the world.

Take a two-hour guided tour of the movie set and learn how this picturesque farmland was transformed into a living, breathing piece of Middle-earth. Your guide will show you Hobbit holes, the Green Dragon Inn, the Party Tree, the Mill and many other structures from the movies. After your Hobbiton movie set tour, you will hop back on the GreatSights coach and retrace your steps back to Rotorua.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Te Pā Tū Evening Maori Cultural Experience

New Zealand’s Most Awarded Cultural Attraction, Tamaki Māori Village presents TE PĀ TŪ. Feast on song, drama, tradition, and divine seasonal ...

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New Zealand’s Most Awarded Cultural Attraction, Tamaki Māori Village presents TE PĀ TŪ. Feast on song, drama, tradition, and divine seasonal kai (cuisine) within the forest Pā (village) blanketed by towering Tawa trees, blazing bonfires, and a forest-formed amphitheatre. Te Pā Tū shares Māori history, traditions, and cultural aspirations across 4-hours of celebration and feasting. These events change with each season of the maramataka, the Māori lunar calendar. 

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Your accommodation: Millennium Hotel Rotorua

Millennium Hotel is Rotorua's largest 4-star deluxe hotel. Perfectly situated in the heart of the city overlooking Lake Rotorua. Five levels of accommodation offer guests a wide variety of scenic views.
Meals included: Breakfast
Day 3 - Rotorua to Wellington, the coolest little capital in the world
Middle Earth Discovered - Day 3
Rotorua Accommodation to Rotorua Intercity Depot

You will be collected from your accommodation and transferred to Rotorua Intercity Coach Depot.

Rotorua to Wellington by InterCity Coach

Your coach journey from Rotorua to Wellington takes you via the township of Taupō and New Zealand's largest lake. The lake itself is actually a gigantic volcanic caldera formed during one of the worlds largest ever eruptions. Skirting Tongariro National Park, one of New Zealand's three world heritage sites and clouds permitting you can see the 2,500 metre peak of the still volcanically active Mt. Ruapehu. You might recognise the symmetrical shape of Mt. Ngauruhoe as this was used as the scenery of Mt. Doom in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Heading south you pass through the rural towns of Taihape, Mangaweka and Bulls before arriving on the Kapiti Coast, with its coastal seaside towns of Paraparaumu, Paekakariki and Plimmerton. The Kapiti Coast leads into Wellington, New Zealand's capital. Wellington sits on a wonderful deep natural harbour and is surrounded by bush clad hills. The city centre itself is quite compact (only around 1 square kilometre), so exploring on foot is relatively easy. From your city centre accommodation you can easily stroll the cafes and restaurants around Courtenay Place and explore New Zealand's national museum, Te Papa, which is also close by.

Private transfer Wellington train station to hotel

You will be met on arrival into Wellington train station and transferred to your hotel.

Your accommodation: Copthorne Hotel Wellington Oriental Bay

Located on Wellington's premier Oriental Parade, overlooking the stunning Wellington Harbour, Copthorne Hotel Wellington Oriental Bay is the perfect base to explore the city. Just 10 minutes away are the city's shopping and entertainment centre. Te Papa Museum, Live Theatre in Courtney Place, and many of the city's finest restaurants and bars are also close by.
Meals included: Breakfast
Day 4 - A full day Lord of The Rings focussed tour
Middle Earth Discovered - Day 4
Lord Of The Rings Full Day Tour including Lunch with Capital Personalised Tours

With some of the best Lord of the Rings tours Wellington has to offer, you will not be disappointed on this tour. You'll visit local filming locations, view a short documentary showing the filmmaking exploits of Peter Jackson and his remarkable team and be guided through the sights and sounds of the Weta Workshop in Miramar. This is followed by a fascinating 'Window into the workshop' exhibition, showing film props and weaponry, with the artists themselves describing how the artefacts were created. After a local lunch, head north into the Hutt Valley following the 'River Anduin' and take in the sights of 'Helms Deep', before stopping at the 'Gardens of Isengard'. Your final destination is 'Rivendell and the Legolas tree' before returning to Wellywood.

Your accommodation: Copthorne Hotel Wellington Oriental Bay

Located on Wellington's premier Oriental Parade, overlooking the stunning Wellington Harbour, Copthorne Hotel Wellington Oriental Bay is the perfect base to explore the city. Just 10 minutes away are the city's shopping and entertainment centre. Te Papa Museum, Live Theatre in Courtney Place, and many of the city's finest restaurants and bars are also close by.
Meals included: Lunch
Day 5 - Today you fly to Queenstown
Middle Earth Discovered - Day 5
Private transfer Wellington Hotel to Airport (IST)

You will be collected from your Wellington hotel and transferred to the airport.

Air New Zealand flight Wellington to Queenstown
Private Transfer Queenstown Domestic Airport to Your Accommodation

On arrival you will be met by a private driver and delivered to your Queenstown accommodation.

Explore Queenstown and surrounds

Although celebrated as New Zealand's ‘adventure capital’ Queenstown offers far more than a fast-paced action-packed holiday. Settled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu beneath a soaring panorama of the Remarkables Mountain Range, this alpine town is surrounded by a plethora of historic, gastronomic and scenic wonders.
Head down the Gibbston Valley wine trail to sample some of the region’s best Pinot or catch a ride on the 100 year old Steamship - the TSS Earnslaw -  to Walter Peak Station for dinner and a farm tour. Browse the waterfront cafes and have lunch at Michelin star chef Josh Emett's ‘Rata.’ Check out nearby historic Arrowtown and enhance your experience with a four wheel drive trip to Macetown.
Take a leisurely lakeside stroll or ride the gondola for breathtaking views. Drive through Lord Of The Rings country - or for the really fanatic, jump aboard one of many dedicated LOTR tours. If you do really want the adrenaline rush Queenstown is known for, take your pick from the Shotover Jet, Bungy, Canyon Swing, Zipline, Luge or Heli-ski.
Finally, if you're lucky enough to visit in winter (July-September) there are four ski resorts close by. You can head up to Coronet Peak and the Remarkables close to Queenstown, or head to Wanaka for Cardrona and Treble Cone.

Your accommodation: Millennium Hotel Queenstown

Right in the heart of the action, the Millennium Hotel is just minutes from Queenstown's central shopping and entertainment district. Outdoor activities such as bungy jumping, white water rafting and jet boating are just some of the easily accessible activities nearby in New Zealand's adventure capital.
Meals included: Breakfast
Day 6 - Full day tour into Milford Sound including cruise
Middle Earth Discovered - Day 6
Milford Sound Cruise and coach tour from Queenstown

Return luxury coach transport from Queenstown to Milford Sound, with a 1 hour 40 minute Cruise along the full length of the fiord. On boarding a Real Journeys luxury glass-roofed coach in Queenstown or Te Anau, you will enjoy a relaxing trip along the shores of Lake Wakatipu and through the rolling countryside to Te Anau. The coach driver provides an informative commentary. After a morning tea break in Te Anau, where you have the option of purchasing refreshments, the coach continues along the spectacular Milford Road. There is time for photo stops and short walks along the way. On reaching Milford Sound, you board the modern, spacious vessel for a leisurely cruise in the fiord. The cruise provides excellent viewing opportunities and plenty of time is available to enjoy waterfalls, rainforest, mountains and the wildlife. During the cruise your friendly crew provide commentaries in several languages and point out the sights such as Mitre Peak and the Pembroke Glacier.

Your accommodation: Millennium Hotel Queenstown

Right in the heart of the action, the Millennium Hotel is just minutes from Queenstown's central shopping and entertainment district. Outdoor activities such as bungy jumping, white water rafting and jet boating are just some of the easily accessible activities nearby in New Zealand's adventure capital.
Meals included: Breakfast
Day 7 - Take a 4WD LOTR safari than free time in Queenstown
Middle Earth Discovered - Day 7
Safari of the Scenes Glenorchy Tour

For those keen on Lord Of The Rings this is the tour for you. Go on a scenic adventure through some of the iconic locations used in the filming. Although none of the sets are left behind, the landscapes will be instantly recognisable. Follow the shores of Lake Wakatipu to the small town of Glenorchy and enjoy the spectacular views of the Remarkables Range as you drive. From Glenorchy you'll head into the beech forests of Paradise, located on the outskirts of Mount Aspiring National Park - before heading up the dart valley and back. Film locations you'll see include Isengard, Lothlorien, Ithilien Camp and the Seat of Seeing.

Enjoy a second day in Queenstown

With such an abundance of activities on offer, one day in Queenstown is never enough!  Today you’ll have some spare time for those things you didn’t get to do yesterday.  For more thrills you can choose from jet boating, luging, bungy jumping or a canyon swing. If golf is your game, the exceptional Millbrook Golf Course is the place for you. Explore a little further afield - nearby historic gold mining township Arrowtown, is a popular destination and features many original buildings and features. At the head of Lake Wakatipu sits Glenorchy, the scenic drive here is worth the trip alone, however arriving into this peaceful township you could easily rest the day away.  Nearby is the start of the Routeburn Track, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks.  You can enjoy a section of this track as a day walk or for the ultimate wilderness adventure choose the 3 day all-inclusive fully guided option.  To really appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds this area, a scenic flight or hot air balloon ride will take your breath away.  For a slightly more grounded experience, the Skyline Gondola offers fantastic views of Queenstown and the Remarkables.

Your accommodation: Millennium Hotel Queenstown

Right in the heart of the action, the Millennium Hotel is just minutes from Queenstown's central shopping and entertainment district. Outdoor activities such as bungy jumping, white water rafting and jet boating are just some of the easily accessible activities nearby in New Zealand's adventure capital.
Meals included: Breakfast
Day 8 - Queenstown to Christchurch
Middle Earth Discovered - Day 8
Queenstown to Christchurch Small Group Tour via Aoraki/Mount Cook and Lake Tekapo

This small group, fully-guided day trip combines all of the key highlights in the area with the famous Lake Tekapo, Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park and Tasman Glacier. The ultimate way to get from Queenstown to Christchurch. Led by famously passionate tour guides, notorious for bringing your journey to life by sharing their stories and rich background knowledge and run in modern, comfortable minibuses packed with extras ensuring your comfort and safety.

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Middle Earth Discovered

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Remember - we can create this itinerary with any style of accommodation or customise to suit your interests and timeframe. Just contact us here.

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