Visiting Hobbit Country: Where To Go In New Zealand

New Zealand has long been famous for its stunning natural landscapes, but the Lord of the Rings and more recent Hobbit movies directed by Peter Jackson have really thrown the spotlight onto this incredible nation and its scenery.

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Many of the shots of Middle Earth are familiar to film fans, who will no doubt relish being able to see these places with their own eyes. A walking tour in New Zealand should therefore be high on lots of travellers’ wish lists – you’ll find some itinerary suggestions here.
We’re going to give you an overview of some of the places you can explore on foot that were featured in one or more of the movies.
Tongariro Crossing
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing on the North Island is featured in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, with the range’s Mount Tongariro used as Mount Doom in the movies. This is an area of outstanding natural beauty, with amazing peaks, active volcanoes, lava flows and emerald-coloured lakes all waiting to be discovered.
This walk is one of the most iconic and striking hiking routes in New Zealand and is well worth doing. It takes a full day for the hike, which covers nearly 20 km, but the effort is more than rewarded by the countless beautiful views you’ll encounter along the way.
Fiordland National Park
Fiordland National Park on the South Island was used for many epic scenic shots in all of the movies, with its amazing fiords, tumbling waterfalls and towering peaks lending itself perfectly to the idea of a wild Middle Earth. It also provided the setting for Fangorn Forest.
This is truly an area of unspoilt natural beauty, with several walking trails you can tackle within its boundaries. One of the most famous is the Kepler Track – you can take it on in its entirety or just hike a section of the route. What makes Fiordland so special is the variety of landscapes you’ll see here – there are glacial lakes, rainforests, deep gorges and snow-capped peaks within the park.
Wellington
New Zealand’s capital – and the surrounding area – lent itself to many different parts of Middle Earth, with scenes of Rivendell, Osgiliath Wood, the Paths of the Dead and Hobbiton Woods all being filmed in and around the city.
Mount Victoria, which is clearly visible from Wellington, provided the wooded slopes for the Hobbiton Woods where Frodo and company encounter the Black Riders for the first time, while Kaitoke National Park was transformed into Rivendell.
Head out of the city to the Putangirua Pinnacles, meanwhile, to see where Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli walked in search of the Army of the Dead.
Pelorus River
The Pelorus River was used in the second Hobbit film – the Desolation of Smaug – and is where the hobbits floated down the river in the famous ‘Great Barrel Escape’. There’s a lot to explore around the region, including the Pelorus Sound and the Pelorus Bridge. Take a break from discovering filming locations to stroll along the picturesque bays of the sound – the seaside village of Havelock is particularly worth visiting.
These are just a few of the many amazing places you can visit in New Zealand on a walking tour. Whether you’re a fan of the movies or not, there’s no denying that the nation is home to some of the world’s most beautiful and varied landscapes. If you do plan to visit, make sure you allow at least two to three weeks to really get a sense of what’s on offer. There is so much to discover, you could easily spend months here and still feel as though there’s more to see.

Peter Jackson, The Lord Of The Rings, and The Beautiful Island of New Zealand

Kiwis must be amongst the most fortunate people in the world, with 8,700 miles of coastline, breath-taking glaciers, incredible national parks and unique wildlife on their doorstep, all shared out amongst just four million inhabitants. With such an abundance of natural beauty, it seems hardly surprising that legendary director, Peter Jackson, chose his native country as the backdrop to his incredible The Lord of the Rings trilogy. See the true Middle Earth and experience just why New Zealand is constantly cited as an unmissable travel destination with our guide to the most beautiful Kiwi attractions!

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Abel Tasman

There simply aren’t enough adjectives in the dictionary to describe just how beautiful Abel Tasman National Park is, so visit Abel Tasman National Park and see it for yourself! One of the world’s best hiking destinations, the entire National Park lies on the coast, offering a fantastic selection of beach and mountain trails.

Milford Sound

Located in the South Island, Milford Sound is one of the country’s top attractions and it isn’t very hard to see why. You can visit it by water, air, or even hiking if you’re feeling adventurous. As well as breath-taking scenery, the Sound is also home to an abundance of wildlife including penguins, dolphins and seals.

Kaikoura

Though not as conventionally beautiful as some of the other attractions listed here, Kaikoura is still well worth a look and is a real haven for any seafood lover! The town is small, but there’s plenty to see and do, and you can buy delicious fresh seafood from local fishermen including mussels, blue cod, and lobster. There’s also an opportunity to spot fur seals, sperm whale, dolphins and albatrosses of the coast, all against a backdrop of gorgeous snow-capped mountains and a dramatic coastline. Kaikoura is definitely one not to be missed!

Waipoau Forest

Waipoau Forest really does feel like something out of The Lord of the Rings, and a wander through here will explain just why Peter Jackson chose New Zealand as his filming location. The forest’s Kaouri Trees are some of the oldest in the world, and though most of them were destroyed by early settlers who used them for making boats, the ones that do remain are truly remarkable. Tāne Mahuta is the most famous and, at 168ft tall and 45.1 feet in diameter, it’s the biggest too!

Punakaiki

We all pray for good weather when we go away, but Punakaiki is definitely best explored when the weather is terrible. Come at high tide when the wind is strong and you’ll see the waves crashing against the rocks, forcing the water upwards like it’s being spouted from a blowhole.

Routeburn

Walking is something not to be missed while you’re in New Zealand, and it’s the best way to take in the country’s incredible beauty. There are nine official Great Walks which will take up between two and four days, but Routeburn is particularly special, taking you through two national parks, Mt Aspiring National Park and Fiordland National Park. It’s an exhausting walk, but most of the hike takes place above the line of the trees, offering magnificent views at any time of the day.

 

Wineries & Wine Tours: Soaking Up The Sun in Auckland

A trip to New Zealand’s beautiful North Island is a treat at any time of year – and if you plan on booking flights to Auckland, you’ll also want to spend some time exploring the area’s spectacular wineries.

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There are plenty of excellent vineyards to explore just a short distance away from Auckland’s city centre, making them perfect for day-trips or longer overnight stays. Read on for some hotspots you won’t want to miss.

Build your own wine tour

If this is your first trip to New Zealand or you are new to the world of wine, you might want to set out on a wine tour to learn a bit more about how it is made.

The main wine-producing regions in the Auckland area include Henderson, South Auckland, Kumeu and Huapai. Each have their own unique specialities and in total, these regions contain more than 20 vineyards.

You can arrange wine tours that depart from central Auckland to suit your schedule – half-day and full-day tours are available, as well as quick tours of just a few hours for those who are short on time.

Brick Bay

Whether you’re a wine lover, an art lover or a bit of both, Brick Bay is a brilliant place to indulge your passions. Here, you’ll find the Brick Bay Sculpture Trail – a unique outdoor art gallery on a two-kilometre walking trail.

The facility also produces extra-virgin olive oil – olives are grown and cold-pressed right on the site. You can sample the olive oil, as well as the locally-produced wine, in the Glass House. Here, you’ll be able to arrange a personalised wine tasting, savour a relaxing coffee or try out a food platter.

Cable Bay

Cable Bay is home to five vineyards on the western end of Waiheke Island. Here, visitors can enjoy stunning sea views across Auckland City and the Hauraki Gulf while they sample the local wines and produce, including delicious fresh olive oil.

One of the best venues to try the finest wines the region has to offer is The Wine Bar, which is among one of Auckland’s most frequently-awarded bars.

You can also sample the various locally-produced foods on offer at the Cable Bay restaurant. It’s a relative newcomer to Auckland (it has been in operation for approximately four years) but it is proving to be a particularly popular venue for visitors and newcomers alike.

blanc, West Auckland

If you are just planning a brief stop in Auckland and you don’t have time to make your way out to one of its wineries, you might want to check out a local venue where you can sample some of the region’s best beverages.

For wine-lovers in West Auckland, blanc is a brilliant choice – and is less than 20 minutes away from the city centre. Here, you’ll find a wide range of premium wines, as well as boutique spirits and a large selection of craft beers.

Wherever you choose to travel in and around the Auckland area, you can be sure to expect fabulous hospitality, plenty of sunshine and of course, delicious local wines!

 

The Best of Fiordland

Fiordland is New Zealand’s largest national park, but also one that receives the least recognition. While it has one or two tourist draws that bring in hundreds of thousands of visitors annually, it is far too often overlooked as a destination in its own right. Taking the time to get to know it better is a worthwhile experience, especially if you do so with a sense of rugged adventure. Renting a high-quality wilderness campervan and spending some quality time near the myriad lakes, sounds, mountain paths, and other draws of the region is probably the best way to do so.

Most tourists start (and finish) with Milford Sound. This beautiful fjord was ranked the world’s top travel destination by TripAdvisor in 2008, and was famously referred to by Rudyard Kipling as the “8th wonder of the world.” It’s obviously worth visiting, and up to a million people do each year. There are immense waterfalls, excellent opportunities for kayaking, high alpine trails with great views inland of the Southern Alps and out over the endless ocean. Most visitors do a boat trip of some sort, whether it be for just a few hours or overnight. There are multiple visitors centers, and even an underwater observatory that allows for the viewing of rare black coral.

Best of Fiordland 2But moving beyond Milford Sound, there are several other excellent destinations within Fiordland. One is Doubtful Sound, which is an even larger fjord, and so named because Captain Cook was uncertain if he could sail out if he attempted to enter it. Doubtful is famous for its population of whales, seals, penguins, and bottlenose dolphins. The area is less accessible than Milford, but can be approached from inland at Lake Manapouri or from the seaward entrance with certain boat companies.

Best of Fiordland 3Three of New Zealand’s “Great Walks” are found in Fiordland. They take intrepid visitors on walks of 50 km or more, staying in anything from simple trekking huts to above-average hotels, and pass by some of the best scenery in the whole country. This includes Sutherland Falls, the tallest waterfall in New Zealand and one of the tallest in the world.

Visiting this area is a delightful experience, especially if you can get away from the majority of the tourists. Exploring the forest service roads and finding small campsites by the many lakes and rivers that dot the landscape is a great adventure. The best campervan experience in the whole country is waiting for you here.