‘All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us’
- Gandalf, the Grey in the lord of the Rings: Trilogy
For those of us who have grown up binge-watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy, these lines are etched deeper inside our minds. A true Lord of the Rings fan has on his or her bucket list, a Lord of the rings tour to feel the magic of the elves and the pull of the ‘Precious’. The true stars of the movie were not only Frodo Baggins, Gandalf, Gollum or Sauron but also the surreal backdrops of New Zealand used in the movies. Almost one hundred and fifty locations across New Zealand brought to life the Middle Earth we saw in the movies. So much so, that after the release of the trilogy, New Zealand earned for itself the moniker ‘Home of Middle-Earth’.
You can witness the magic of the movies in person by taking a tour designed specifically for these locations. Lord of the rings tour starts, with the first leg of the journey beginning at Auckland and then to Matamata, which is at a distance of 99 miles or 160 km from Auckland. The two-hour drive takes you to a private farmland which is home to the Hobbiton movie set. This set has a two hour guided tour giving you a peek into the Kaimai Ranges from the rolling green hills. There is even a sheep farm and The Shires Rest Café, that lets you enjoy not a mug of ale but superb coffee and food.
Matamata leads to Rotorua which is a one hour drive and is the pit stop before going to Taupo. The drive to all these locations lets you enjoy the scenic beauty that includes attractions like the Huka Falls. While Rotorua is known for its mud pools, geysers, craters, and lakes, Taupo lets you unleash the adventure seeker in you with its bungee jumping and boat cruises.
After Taupo, comes Wellington, which has a full day Lord of the rings tour where the landscape will transport you to Middle-earth and you will find yourself recreating every scene exactly as it happened at the movie. For starters, there is the Outer shire area, Weta studio, and Scorch-O-Rama café that has a lunch menu designed on the movie’s theme. You can include Kaikoura and Hanmer springs as the next stop on your trip. Lake Tekapo is also a must-see for Mount Cook, Tasman Glacier, Fox Glacier, and Franz Josef. Queenstown which is the last location in the Lord of the rings tour takes you to Dart Valley or Isengard as it was called in the movies.