There are an obscene amount of things to do in New Zealand. However, there’s one particular attraction that has fascinated a number of international travelers over the years.
Since the first Lord of the Rings movie was released in 2001, millions of people have flocked to see the scenes where the films were captured. J. R. R. Tolkien’s first three books turned movies (Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the King) were filmed entirely in New Zealand across destinations such as Wellington, Canterbury, Southern Lakes and Nelson.
Though not all of us have the financial resources to set out on an extensive tour to visit every single location the LOTR films stopped, there are alternatives.
Luckily, there are several tours that cater for LOTR fanatics’ desire to take in the sights where Frodo Baggins and his fellow Elves lived. The Lord of the Rings official tour was curated by Mellissa Heath who has garnered global fame for her specialist insights into the Middle-Earth and other notable LOTR stops.
All the tours depart from Queenstown and are led by a number of highly knowledgeable guides who have an unbelievable amount of information on the history of the film, actors, props, costumes and storylines – it’s even rumored that one of them was in a LOTR movie.
Where the tour excels is that it provides each visitor a personalized journey through Middle-Earth. You have the opportunity to see the weapons used in the movie, costumes, photographs from the sets and “the comprehensive LOTR experience,” many hope for.
While there are a few of these tours across New Zealand very few are actually endorsed by Ian Brodie. As the author of the LOTR Location Guidebook, Brodie rates tour guide Mellissa Heath as “the perfect guide” through everything LOTR related.
The tours on offer include:
Trails of Middle-Earth (Queenstown)
Into the Vale of Wizards (Queenstown)
The Quest (Queenstown)
Touching Middle Earth (Queenstown)
The best part about this particular LOTR tour is that there’s also on-site accommodation options which are available via a series of packages listed on the website. Additionally, the tour has accommodation available in Wanaka, Christchurch, Arrowtown as well as Queenstown. All prices for the tours and accommodation are detailed on the website.
Travel Tips for International Visitors:
While the trip is a fantastic experience it’s always best to plan for every eventuality. Here a few things to consider for your LOTR trip to New Zealand.
Make sure you don’t forget travel insurance
While many travelers choose not to purchase a travel insurance policy when they go on vacation, it’s not recommended. Travel insurance helps over 4,300 people every week. If you run the risk of not getting a policy then you might have to foot the bill for medical costs, lost baggage, flight cancellation and stolen money.
Another variable to consider when purchasing travel insurance is where you obtain your policy. Travel agents and airlines tend to charge huge commissions so it’s always best to entrust a reputable online comparison website. There you can find the best policy that’s relevant to your specific needs and at a cost that suits your budget.
Check for weather updates
The weather in New Zealand is extremely warm during the summer, however that doesn’t mean everywhere is beach-worthy. The South Island can drop to -10°C in the winter so make sure you have packed accordingly. January and February are the warmest months in New Zealand, and although this might not be practical for everyone, these are definitely the best months to travel.
Never forget your camera
The photo opportunities are endless on the LOTR tour so make sure you come equipped with your best camera. If you haven’t got a camera then obviously a smartphone will do. However, always bring a backup power supply, especially if you have an iPhone. There an abundance of external battery packs available online which can mean the difference between capturing a priceless moment in Bag End or your battery failing on you.
About the Author: Simon Harrison is a Kiwi born expat currently living in the UK. When not hiking around the Yorkshire Dales and dreaming of Hobbits in his homeland, he spends his time on tenterhooks awaiting the release of the latest Star Wars film.