Boutique Hotels
Mt Ngauruhoe Tongariro
Safari of the Scenes
Safari of the Scenes
Fox Glacier, South Island

In Search of Middle Earth

18 day Self Drive Holiday - from £3225

With flights from £4525

Discover a land reminiscent of JRR Tolkien’s fantasy world of lush lowlands, hidden valleys and mystical mountains on this fabulous New Zealand self drive.


  • Enjoy a tour of the Hobbiton Movie Set used in the The Lord of the Rings
  • Spend a day in Rotorua exploring its geysers and bubbling mud pools
  • Spot Mount Doom overlooking Tongariro National Park
  • Pass towering mountains and filming locations on a jetboat tour from Wanaka
  • Explore the glistening lakes and tumbling waterfalls of the Southern Alps
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Your Itinerary

Day 1 - Welcome to Auckland

On arrival at Auckland Airport you will be greeted with a private transfer to your hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure.

Hotel: Hotel Grand Windsor

Day 2 - Rotorua (227 kms)

This morning make your way to the rental car city depot where you will collect your car. Depart Auckland and journey through lush farming country to the rolling, grassy hills of Matamata. Experience the real Middle Earth with a visit to the Hobbiton Movie Set, the bucolic setting for The Shire that featured in the Peter Jackson directed films The Lord of the Rings.

Your tour starts with a drive through the picturesque 1250 acre sheep farm with spectacular views across to the Kaimai Ranges. Your guide will escort you through the 10 acre site recounting fascinating details of how the Hobbiton set was created. After your tour, continue on to the bubbling belly of the North Island, geothermal, tempestuous Rotorua.

Hotel: The Springs, Rotorua
Meals: Breakfast

Day 3 - Rotorua

Today is a free day to experience the many sights and activities on offer.

Optional Sightseeing: Te Puia, New Zealand Maori Arts & Crafts Institute
This is a place of gushing waters, steaming vents, boiling mud pools and spectacular geysers. Gain deeper understanding as to how the wonders of the earth work in harmony with the powerful traditions of Maui Culture at Te Pui Art and Crafts Institute.
The region is also a great area to explore the great outdoors, with plenty of walking tracks for all abilities available.

Hotel: The Springs, Rotorua
Meals: Breakfast

Day 4 - Tongariro National Park (151 kms)

Travel from a peaceful wonderland of rivers and lakes to a desolate, tortured landscape of volcanic ash where Mt Ngauruhoe is instantly recognisable as Mt Doom, and Mt Ruapehu the embodiment of Mordor.

Hotel: Ruapehu Country Lodge
Meals: Breakfast

Day 5 - Wellington (333 kms)

Travel via Waitarere Forest, Kapiti Coast and picture yourself in Osgiliath Wood and Trollshaw Forest. Enjoy the transformation of scenery through Otaki Gorge, reminiscent of the outer reaches of the Shire. You may choose to visit Queen Elizabeth Park, where some of the scenes of the battle of the Pelennor Fields were filmed, before arriving in Wellington, the base for Peter Jackson’s film studios and the Weta Workshop.

Hotel: Booklovers B&B, Wellington
Meals: Breakfast

Day 6 - Wellington

Today enjoy a wonderful half day film location experience with your own expert guide. In a small group you’ll visit the filming locations for Rivendell, the Anduin River, Amon Hen, the Gardens of Isengard, “Get off the Road” and Helms Deep amongst others.

Hotel: Booklovers B&B, Wellington
Meals: Breakfast

Day 7 - Nelson (130 kms)

This morning drop off your rental car and take the Interislander ferry journey across the Cook Strait from the dynamic, hilly cityscape of Wellington to the pretty town of Picton. Collect another rental car in Picton and drive to Richmond, Nelson. Nelson is home to Jens Hansen Gold and Silversmith, designers of the One Ring and where one of the original rings is on display.

Hotel: Cambria House B&B, Nelson
Meals: Breakfast

Day 8 - Nelson

Spend today at leisure.

Optional Sightseeing: Mt Olympus Helicopter Tour
This site is extremely remote and can only be reached by helicopter. Mt Olympus sprouts rocky outcrops which over time have been eroded by weather to form incredible columnar shapes. These strange pinnacle rock formations were used to portray the rugged country “South of Rivendell”.

Hotel: Cambria House B&B, Nelson
Meals: Breakfast

Day 9 - Hokitika (340 kms)

The road south is breathtaking with white capped breakers and rugged rocks on one side, bush-clad mountains on the other. Travel via Punakaiki, famous for its pancake rock formations which date back about 30 million years.

Optional Sightseeing: Glowworm Cave Tour in Charleston
The Nile River Rainforest Train travels through the primeval rain forest to the enormous Nile River Caves where you will explore an ancient wonderland of stalactites, stalagmites and become entranced while under the galaxies of glowworms.

Hotel: Rimu Lodge, Hokitika
Meals: Breakfast

Day 10 - Fox Glacier (157 kms)

Continue on down the West Coast home to the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, unique relics of the last ice age. Mighty rivers of solid white, tumbling down ice-hewn rock valleys, they are classically beautiful in the glacial sense. Nowhere else in the world have glaciers advanced so close to the sea at this latitude.

Hotel: Misty Peaks, Fox Glacier
Meals: Breakfast

Day 11 - Wanaka (262 kms)

Enjoy waterfalls and beautifully scenic rivers and lakes as you head towards the lakeside town of Wanaka.

Optional Sightseeing: Stuart Landsborough’s Puzzling World
This is a unique attraction that specialises in puzzling eccentricity. The illusion technique in the Ames Forced Perspective Room was used in The Lord of the Rings film to create tall and little people.

Hotel: Maple Lodge, Wanaka
Meals: Breakfast

Day 12 - Wanaka

Today’s half day wilderness jet boating adventure is set amongst spectacular scenery. Travel past towering mountains, waterfalls and Lord of The Rings film locations on the pristine, glacier fed river.

Hotel: Maple Lodge, Wanaka
Meals: Breakfast

Day 13 - Queenstown (113 kms)

Journey south over the Clutha and Cardrona Rivers and via Lake Dunstan to Cromwell. Continue through the Kawarau Gorge before arriving at New Zealand’s adventure capital, Queenstown. An alternative route today is via the Crown Range Road which is New Zealand’s highest sealed highway. This route is shorter than the one via Cromwell, however travel time may take longer due to the winding nature of the road (note: this route is not recommended over winter).

Optional Sightseeing: LOTR Trilogy Trail
A half day scenic flight showcasing locations used to represent Lothlorien, Amon Hen, Nen Hithoel, Amon Lhaw, Path Galen, Ford of Bruinen, The Pillars of the King on the River Anduin, and the site of Gandalf’s ride to Isengard.

Hotel: Queenstown Park Boutique Hotel
Meals: Breakfast

Day 14 - Queenstown

Today enjoy a half day off road adventure with exciting Lord of the Rings film locations. The 4WD tour takes you into the heart of New Zealand’s high country, the embodiment of the Middle Earth of Tolkien’s imagination. Enjoy a spectacular look at the diversity of the scenery in this area. Based around several of the specific sites where filming took place.

Hotel: Queenstown Park Boutique Hotel
Meals: Breakfast

Day 15 - Twizel (256 kms)

Enjoy the scenic journey to the quaint inland town of Twizel nestled between impressive mountain ranges. Marvel at the awesome sight of Mount Cook.

Hotel: Matuka Lodge, Twizel
Meals: Breakfast

Day 16 - Christchurch (227 kms)

Time is available this morning to explore Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest peak located in the heart of New Zealand’s most spectacular mountain region, the Southern Alps. One of the most spectacular features of this area is the Tasman Glacier which is 30kms long. Also well worth seeing is the Hochstetter Ice Fall. There are a wide variety of walking trips available where mountain and glacier scenery are at their best. Depart Mount Cook and drive over the farms, fields and braided rivers of the Canterbury Plains to Christchurch.

Hotel: The Classic Villa
Meals: Breakfast

Day 17 - Christchurch

Today’s tour takes you to remote and beautiful Mt Potts high country station where its peaceful mountain was transformed into Edoras. Immerse yourself in the natural, unspoilt beauty of this breathtaking area with its sparkling clear lakes, glistening blue rivers and fresh, crisp mountain air. Exciting 4WD adventure and short guided walk to breathtaking 360 degree views. See the Misty Mountains and handle movie replicas.

Hotel: The Classic Villa
Meals: Breakfast

Day 18 - Farewell from Christchurch

Tour concludes with the return of your rental car to the Christchurch airport depot.

Meals: Breakfast

18 day Self Drive Holiday - from £3225

With flights from £4525


  • Add extra nights in Auckland, Christchurch or any location en route
  • Spend two nights in the Bay of Islands before your self drive
  • Add a stopover to New Zealand in Singapore, Dubai or another destination
  • Choose to fly Economy, Premium, Business or First Class

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All prices are per person and based on 2 sharing a double or twin room. Hotels specified are subject to availability and may be substituted by one of a similar or higher standard. Price shown based on low season travel from May to September, subject to availability. Supplements will apply if alternative hotels are booked.

In Search of Middle Earth Map

Self Drive Touring

Relaxed and enjoyable self drive touring. You can book this itinerary as it is or ask your Travel Consultant to add extra days in the places you choose.

Your self drive includes:

  • 17 nights boutique accommodation
  • Deluxe hotels, including breakfast
  • Modern, air-conditioned car
  • Inclusive vehicle insurance
  • Maps and driving information
  • Flexible itinerary

See more New Zealand self drive holidays…

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For advice or to start planning your holiday

talk to a New Zealand Expert on 0333 234 3209