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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
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 airconditioned 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!
3 BEST Lord of the Rings Tours in Queenstown
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
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!
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!)
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
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!
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!)
Picnic stop with amazing views
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
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!
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
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
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
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 Must-Do Queenstown Activities
Other than hiking, there are lots of other amazing things to do in and around Queenstown. Some of my favorites are:
- Full-Day Milford Sound Experience – This award-winning Queenstown cruise takes place in one of the most scenic places in New Zealand, Milford Sound in Fiordland National Park. This tour takes you along a scenic drive stopping at many of the best lakes, valleys, and tunnels before ending the experience on a 2-hour cruise through the fjords and waterfalls in Milford Sound. It will be a full day, to say the least, but it will be an unforgettable experience. Lunch is provided.
- Dinner at Walter Peak High Country Farm and Cruise – This laid-back dinner plus cruise is perfect for a day off from physical activity. You’ll ride on the 1912 vintage steamer, the TSS “Earnslaw” to Walter Peak High Country Farm where you’ll enjoy high-end barbequed meats or seafood- buffet style. Cap things off with the choice of desserts and cheeses. After you’ll have the option to stay behind or watch a sheepdog show and sheepshearing demonstration. Truly one of the most exceptional Queenstown tours!
- Scenic Gourmet Food and Wine Tour – Sip wine from New Zealand’s largest wine cave, be served a gourmet lunch and indulge in local cheeses. While enjoying wines from the best regions on the island you will also pass by scenic locations and learn about the Otago Gold Rush. This half-day wine tour in Queenstown has a badge of excellence for being one of the best and most popular Queenstown activities.
- Shotover River Canyon Swing– Calling all thrill-seekers! You can jump solo or go tandem on this 60-meter (200-foot) freefall over the Shotover River Canyon. The heart-thumping jump transitions into a graceful swing rocking back and forth above the most epic views. You can expect to allow 2.5hrs for this activity.
- Small-Group Zipline Adventure– If you’re not into freefall activities this zipline over Lake Wakatipu and the snow-capped Southern Alps is a great meet-in-the-middle option that can still push you out of your comfort zone if you so choose. You can pick from one of three height options that you feel most comfortable with. The professional guides make sure to provide you with the safest possible experience.
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: