New Zealand Time for Tolkien

Got a soft spot for Gandalf and Bilbo Baggins? Go behind the scenes and see where and how the magic happened on a tour of Hobbiton and other locations immortalised by Peter Jacksons epic films…

Want to peep in bona fide hobbit holes in search of hairy-footed inhabitants? Journey to Middle-earth – and discover the Shire – at the Hobbiton Movie Set in Matamata, star of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films. You’ll take a scenic trip through a 1,250-acre sheep station in the shadow of the North Island’s Kaimai Ranges and pop into Bag End, where it all began. Other items for your must-see list include the Green Dragon Inn, the Mill and the Party Tree (keep your eyes peeled for bearded wizards). Daily tours leave from the Shire’s Rest Cafe in Matamata and from the Matamata and Rotorua i-SITEs.

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Safari of the Scenes: Glenorchy
This interactive safari will whisk you along the shore of Lake Wakatipu towards Glenorchy and the Paradise Valley, notching up incredible views of the mountains and forest. You’ll visit the jaw-drop locations for Isengard (where you can admire the hanging glacier immortalised in the first instalment of the Hobbit trilogy), the Ithilien Camp (12 Mile Delta), Lothlorien forest and the Seat of Seeing/Battle of Amon Hen. Budding Elijah Woods and wannabe Liv Tylers will have the chance to don costumes and re-enact their favourite bits with on-loan props.

Safari of the Scenes: Wakatipu Basin
This safari combines off-road adventures with insider LOTR knowledge, and the chance to admire the locations where Minas Tirith, Misty Mountains, the Pillars of the Kings (Argonath), the site of Isildur’s Fall and the Ford of Bruinen were set. You’ll swap Queenstown for the Remarkables – or Misty Mountains – range, which had several star turns throughout the trilogy. The safari includes a trip to Kawarau Gorge, the location for the Pillars of the Kings (also home to the world’s first commercial bungy jump). Visit Arrowtown and travel along a historic gold mining road, crossing the river for the Ford of Bruinen film site. The tour includes morning or afternoon tea by the river and the chance to try your hand at gold-panning, before continuing on to Skippers Saddle, which overlooks the Wakatipu Basin.

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Flat Earth offers a range of tours, including half-, full-day and deluxe Tolkien-themed adventures. On the Half-Day Middle-earth tour, you’ll visit Rivendell, which Elrond called home, as well as admiring the quarry used for the filming of Helms Deep in Rohan and Minas Tirith. You’ll explore the Buckland Forest, where the hobbits hid from the Nazgul/Black Riders (hopefully none will show up when you’re there). On the full-day tour, an al fresco lunch is included (weather permitting); otherwise, you’ll have a pit-stop at one of the region’s excellent restaurants. Opt for the deluxe tour and you’ll fly you over the Putangirua Pinnacles by chopper, gawping at some of the most memorable locations from above.
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