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3 BEST Lord of the Rings Tours in Queenstown +What to Know Before Booking

3 BEST Lord of the Rings Tours in Queenstown +What to Know Before Booking

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This blog is all about a Queenstown Lord of the Rings Tour including our review of the tour, what to expect through our personal experience, and everything you need to know before you go!

One of the most popular movie trilogies of all time was filmed right here in New Zealand – The Lord of the Rings! Those who are huge fans of the Lord of the Rings movies and books often come to New Zealand purely for this purpose.

The movies were filmed all over the country on both the North and South Islands. However, around Queenstown, you can find so many great film locations that will get any LOTR fan excited!

With that said, you don’t have to be a huge Lord of the Rings fan to be able to appreciate the beautiful locations they used in the films, the incredible facts about the movies, as well as all of the work that went into making them.

In fact, a Lord of the Rings tour in Queenstown is perfect for both those who love the trilogy and people looking for amazing views and an epic road trip from Queenstown to Glenorchy.

Here’s everything you need to know about a Queenstown Lord of the Rings tour and what to expect!

About Lord of the Rings Tours in Queenstown

Dressing up as lord of the rings characters on our Lord of the Rings tour Queenstown.
Dan and I…or should I say an Elf and Gandalf!!!

Lord of the Rings tours in Queenstown are, of course, based around visiting the film locations near Queenstown. There are lots of film locations all over the Queenstown and Glenorchy area, and although you can’t visit them all on just one tour, you’ll be taken to lots of the most famous scenes.

You won’t just learn where Peter Jackson chose to film the movies, either. Instead, you’ll also learn all about the production of the films and how a country so small managed to get so many extras for the huge war scenes.

All of this is as interesting as visiting the film locations and if you’re a fan of Peter Jackson, his story from local Kiwi to a famous film director is very inspiring!

With that said, you’ll also tour some of the most breathtaking areas of Glenorchy. So despite being centered around LOTR, this tour is also very scenic!

Most Queenstown Lord of the Rings tours run for between 3 to 4 hours; however there are also full-day LOTR tours like this one which is done in a 4WD vehicle! Tours include lunch, a guide, and transport in an air-conditioned or heated vehicle. Choosing the tour you want to do will depend on how big of a fan you are. To me, the half-day tour was perfect!

Related Read: One of the great hikes in Queenstown is the Ben Lomond Track which can easily be done in part of a day!

Our FAVORITE Lord of the Rings Tour

exploring Lothlorien on the glenorchy lord of the rings tour
Exploring Lothlorien

This Lord of the Rings scenic van tour caught our eye, as it is super budget-friendly and took us to many of the locations they used for the film! Unlike the other tours we looked at, these guys also had loads of fun props and costumes which made taking photos that much more fun.

Tickets cost just $189 NZD per person and also include access to the private Arcadia Station, as well as a picnic lunch and snacks! You can select your dates and book online here.

3 BEST Lord of the Rings Tours in Queenstown

paradise on the glenorchy lord of the rings tour
I loved this spot in “paradise”

1. Half-day Scenic Van Tour LOTR Tour

This is the LOTR tour we ended up going with. What sold us on this particular tour is that it was budget-friendly, included a picnic lunch and snacks, stopped at several filming locations with access to the private Arcadia Station. Plus, it also allowed us to use fun replica swords and costumes – great for pictures!

It only lasts for 4 hours so if you aren’t a mega LOTR fan, then you’ll still have a lot of your day left for other activities.

2. 4WD LOTR Tour from Queenstown

The main lure of this half-day Lord of the Rings tour from Queenstown is that you will be riding in a 4WD vehicle, so your guide will be able to drive you to spots around the lake that you would not be able to access on a standard van tour. However, this will cost you a little bit more. This tour only comes with snacks, not a full lunch.

3. Helicopter LOTR Tour

If you’ve got the ability to splurge on a LOTR tour, THIS would be the tour to do. You’ll get 70 minutes of flight time and cover many different filming locations. Plus, you’ll also make two landings for an even closer look! This tour will allow you to soak up a lot of great visuals in a short amount of time; great if you are in a rush or want a unique experience!

Our LOTR Tour – How Our Day Went

Here’s our personal experience on our Queenstown Lord of the Rings tour. This should give you a great idea of what to expect, photos from the trip, and help you decide which LOTR tour from Queenstown is right for you!

The scenic drive to Glenorchy

The views looking towards Glenorchy on the Queenstown to Glenorchy highway.
The views looking towards Glenorchy on the Queenstown to Glenorchy highway.

Queenstown Lord of the Rings scenic tours begin in Queenstown but the adventure starts as you begin the drive towards Glenorchy.

Glenorchy is a small town located 45 minutes from Queenstown. The town of Glenorchy is home to under 300 residents and visiting is one of the best things to do in Queenstown.

Within Glenorchy itself, you can enjoy spectacular views, but the drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy is known as one of the most scenic drives in all of New Zealand!

Views of the mountains on the Queenstown to Glenorchy highway
Views of the Misty Mountains on the Queenstown to Glenorchy highway

As we drove the windy roads along the shore of Lake Wakatipu towards Glenorchy, our guide began the tour by telling us about how Peter Jackson (a Kiwi from Wellington) ended up getting the job as the director of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. We also learned about the amount of money spent in the 7 years it took to plan, film, and edit all three movies (this will shock you!)

The waterfront in Glenorchy, New Zealand
The waterfront in Glenorchy!

We stopped at an incredible viewpoint along the road to Glenorchy and our guide explained about the surrounding mountains we were looking at. We were given some general knowledge but also we were told about some famous Lord of the Rings locations as well. The “Misty” mountains sat right in front of us and we could even see the snow-covered peak in which Boromir found the ring!

After that, we headed to Glenorchy where we had a quick tour of the town before we were off again, but this time we were headed to somewhere even more remote!

Related Read: This small town of Glenorchy is also home to another super fun and very affordable activity, the Glenorchy Animal Experience! Hangout with some cute farm animals.

Scouting out filming locations

Our guide explaining about the different filming locations of the LOTR's in Glenorchy
Our guide explains the different Lord of the Rings filming locations.

We drove along gravel roads next to fields full of sheep. Luckily it is spring and we saw lots of the cutest baby lambs running around in the fields chasing one another and their mums. After another short drive, we stopped in a gorgeous valley to learn about a few more Lord of the Rings scene locations as well as play dress-up!

Bailey dressed as an elf on our Queenstown Lord of the Rings tour
Bailey dressed as an elf on our Queenstown Lord of the Rings tour

From this viewpoint, we saw the walking trees or Ents forest, the battle of Isengard, a scene from the hobbit, and lots more (that you’ll have to do the tour for yourself to find out!)

Your looking at the Fangorn Forest near one of the Twin Towers
You’re looking at the Fangorn Forest near one of the Twin Towers

Picnic stop with amazing views

Our picnic on our Lord of the Rings tour in Queenstown

All those amazing views had made us hungry and our Lord of the Rings tour included a picnic lunch! We enjoyed tea, coffee, water, and other drinks as well as ate yummy sandwiches made with local produce. It was the perfect place to enjoy a picnic!

Related Read: Queenstown has a lot of restuarants so check out what we think are the best foods to try in Queentown!

Off to more film locations!

Our next stop was in a forest within Mount Aspiring National Park, otherwise known as Lothlorien in Lord of the Rings! We wandered the forest and were shown famous fighting scenes from the movies.

Our final stop on our way back to Queenstown was a very famous scene most will remember. It involved a short ten-minute scenic walk to the exact location of the scene where Sméagol brings the rabbit back to Frodo and Sam cooked the rabbit and potatoes stew over the fire.

At this stop, the fire used in the films still remains which is really cool!

Related Read: Are you also a fan of The Hobbit? Read our review of Hobbiton and find out if we thought it was worth it!

More than a Tour for Lord of the Rings Superfans

Breathetaking views from our van on our Lord of the Rings tour
Just beautiful!

The Queenstown Lord of the Rings Tour was not just an awesome tour for LOTR fans, and I highly recommend it to those who want to do a bit of sightseeing as well.

I mean, after doing the tour, it’s obvious that Peter Jackson chose the most beautiful locations around Queenstown to use in the films!

A scenic stop at Mirror Lakes on our LOTR's tour
The stunning Mirror Lakes

Related Read: Find out all of the most instagrammable spots to take pictues in Queenstown here!

I personally have never read the books and have only watched the movies once (years ago I might add!) I was a bit nervous that I would be out of place on this tour but soon after I got in the van the tour guide assured me that many people join this tour just for scenic views.

Even if you’ve never seen the movies, this Queenstown Lord of the Rings tour will still be enjoyable! The scenery and breathtaking viewpoints are so worth it!

What’s included in Queenstown Lord of the Rings Tours

picnic lunch on the lotr tour
Our picnic lunch!

Our Queenstown Lord of the Rings tour with Pure Glenorchy included transport in a nice van, an amazing picnic lunch, water, an informative guide, and costumes to dress up in. With all this, it’s not necessary for you to bring anything other than your camera, smile, and some comfortable footwear!

Related Read: A Via Ferrata climbing expereince in Queenstown is sure to please the adventurous souls!

Queenstown Lord of the Rings Tour Review

Our pure Glenorchy van on our Queenstown Lord of the Rings tour

I have done so many tours in Queenstown and I have to say that the Queenstown Lord of the Rings tour is one of my all-time favorites! The reason?

Well, I loved learning about the films even though I wasn’t a super fan. I guess I was impressed at the attention to detail and the amount of planning that goes into making movies – especially LOTR.

Our guide was also super informative and kept the tour interesting from start to finish. He knew so much about the films that everyone will learn something new on the tour.

Of course, my favorite part was the breathtaking views we got to enjoy along the way. Literally, everywhere you look is stunning, and having a picnic in amongst it was a memorable experience.

Overall the Queenstown Lord of the Rings tour gets two thumbs up from us and our personal recommendation!

I obviously haven’t done every Lord of the Rings tour offered in Queenstown, but if you liked the above photos and tour itinerary, you can book the exact LOTR tour we did here!

Related Read: A great scenic New Zealand road trip to take is to drive from Christchurch to Queenstown.

Lord of the Rings Film Locations Near Queenstown

Daniel dressed up as Gandalf on a Lord of the Rings tour in Queenstown, New Zealand
You may even run into Gandalf himself!

If you don’t want to go on a guided tour, you can actually visit many Lord of the Rings film locations on your own! Many of the locations are actually very close to Queenstown. While I do highly recommend a guided LOTR tour for die-hard fans and those who want to learn about each spot they are taken to I realize they aren’t cheap. So, if you want to stay on budget, simply organize your own self-driven Lord of the Rings tour!

Go to the DOC website to map out your route and then create your own scavenger hunt to find the locations. You can actually get GPS coordinates right from the website as well as detailed descriptions of each location and what scenes were filmed. This website works for LOTR film locations all around New Zealand too!

You will need a car for this activity (you can rent one for cheap if needed), but it is sure to be a fun adventure and worthy of a day!

Some of the places you definitely need to make sure you visit include:

  • Lothlorien – Forest in Mount Aspiring National Park
  • Isengard – Paradise
  • Ithilien Camp – 12-Mile Delta
  • The Argonath on the Anduin River – Kawarau Suspension Bridge
  • Ford of Bruinen – Skippers Canyon
  • Dimrill Dale – Lake Alta

Other Activities to do While You’re in Queenstown

Bailey stands at the front of the TSS Earnslaw on our way back from Queenstown best bike tour
Riding the TSS Earnslaw to Walter Peak Farm!

Aside from touring Lord of the Rings sites, there are lots of other amazing things to do in and around Queenstown. Some of my favorites are:

  • Ride the gondola – The gondola in Queenstown is an iconic activity that takes you up the side of a mountain to Bob’s Peak high above Queenstown. The view is insane, especially if you stay for sunset. And at the top of the gondola, you’ll also find the Luge, a unique go-cart-like experience that’s powered by gravity. I recommend buying combo tickets for the gondola AND the Luge!
  • Visit a sheep farm  – New Zealand has more sheep than people, so you must visit a sheep farm while here! But hey, why not do it in style? This Walter Peak Farm Tour includes a cruise in a vintage steamship to this picturesque seaside farm. Once there, you’ll enjoy a tasty meal of high-end barbequed meats or seafood- buffet style. Cap things off with the choice of desserts and cheeses. Afterward, you’ll watch a sheep shearing demonstration or a sheepdog show.
  • Take a scenic food and wine tour The Queenstown area is a foodie heaven, with incredible wine and cuisine that you just have to try. And on this day tour, you’ll sip wine from New Zealand’s largest wine cave, be served a gourmet lunch, and indulge in local cheeses – all with an epic view to boot!

Renting a Car or Campervan in New Zealand

Bailey takes a selfie with a JUCY campervan
Ready to hit the road!
Bailey stands infront of a JUCY campervan in New Zealand
JUCY is another favorite!

The first step to planning your New Zealand road trip is choosing your set of wheels! Most people rent a campervan or motorhome to get around, but you can also just rent a normal car and stay in hotels (as opposed to camping.)

You can search for rental cars online with Discover Cars in advance to compare car models and prices. We’ve used this website all over the world and if you want more details, read our honest review of Discover Cars for more details!

You can also do this with motorhomes and campervans on a website called Motorhome Republic. It shows all of the available campervans and motorhomes for your specific New Zealand road trip dates. You can compare prices and company reviews here too!

JUCY is our personal favorite campervan rental company in NZ. We love JUCY because they have such a range of both cars and campervans available, so you’re pretty much guaranteed to find something to suit your budget and travel style.

We’ve actually secured an exclusive discount code for our readers with JUCY. Just click here to browse their availability and use the code DTRAVEL24 at checkout to get 5% off! What a good deal!

You can check prices, availability and book with JUCY online here.

Star RV is another company we personally recommend but specifically for motorhomes! They offer larger motorhomes (as opposed to budget campervans) at really reasonable rates.

Star RV has actually given us a discount code for our readers too! Use the code DTRAVEL24 at checkout to get 5% off your motorhome rental! Note, this code is only valid for bookings made before June 21, 2024 with travel dates before Dec 21, 2024. Click here to browse availability, prices, and book with our discount code!

Thanks for reading!

Selfie of Dan and bailey from Destinationless Travel
Thanks for reading!

After living in Queenstown for 6 months the Lord of the Rings tour actually took us to new places we hadn’t ever been (and trust us, we do a lot of exploring)!

This trip definitely gets my tick of approval and is something I surely won’t forget!

If you have any more questions about the tour or things to do in and around Queenstown then leave a comment below! If not, then be sure to check out all our Queenstown and NZ blogs on our official Queenstown page and New Zealand page. You can also read through our other related articles:

Best bars in Queenstown

Jet Boating in Queenstown

Our New Zealand bucket list