A few days ago, someone on Instagram asked me on how to book a Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movie tour in New Zealand. Nowadays, Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth trilogies are an integral part of tourism in New Zealand so there are many options out there. From personal experience, I can confirm that it is overwhelming when you first look for movie tours online.
Now, there are several ways on how to explore Middle-earth’s remains in New Zealand, depending on your time, budget, and overall plans in NZ. You can either book a guided ‘all inclusive’ tour with a fixed itinerary, lasting for up to 14 days, where you’ll only see movie locations, or you can pick your favourite movie locations and also take the time to explore New Zealand itself.
My Travel Tested LOTR-Themed Tour Guides
In a post from 2014 over at Middle-earth News, I’ve already posted a summary of all the movie tours I’ve booked in NZ. When I first began to plan my trip to NZ, the first thing I did in terms of research was to re-watch the LOTR Extended Editions. There are several documentary specials focusing on locations (Similar documentaries can be found on the Extended Editions for The Hobbit movie trilogy as well). In other words, I began to write down any location that was mentioned. Back then, I haven’t got Ian Brodie’s Location Guidebook yet (more on that below) so the reseach was a bit time consuming. My next step was to look up which towns and cities were near the movie locations and then use my good friend Google to find possible movie tours.
In my post at Middle-earth News, ‘Exploring Middle-earth: Tour Guides and Tips’, you will find tips on how and where to book a trip to Hobbiton, how to explore Mordor, Edoras, and various movie locations in Wellington. For an in-depth review of my Hobbiton movie tour, go and check out my post ‘Exploring New Zealand: Hobbiton Movie Set’.
There are, however, two ‘all inclusive’- tours that include accommodation, transport, and catering that I’ve not mentioned on Middle-earth News and that I will mention down below.
Before I start listing the ‘all inclusive’ tours, I have to mention two great guide books. Ian Brodie’s Location Guidebooks for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, are the go-to-book for everyone with the desire to explore the real Middle-earth. During my time in New Zealand in 2009, I had his LOTR Guidebook with me at all times. The Location Guidebooks are full of great photography, info on the movies, and tips on how to find the locations. I’ve only wished that I’ve already had that book during my research phase, it would’ve made things so much easier. With the help of the Guidebook, you can start working on a preliminary itinerary for your trip if you don’t book an ‘all inclusive’ tour.
Red Carpet Tours
Red Carpet Tours was established in 2002 and is the original LOTR tour operator in New Zealand. I have not booked them myself, for reasons I will come to in a second, but I know several people who either booked them in the past or will be in a few months’ time. Red Carpet Tours offers various tours ranging from 1 day up to 14 days and include-among many other things- coach transport, accommodation, and catering.
I can honestly say that I’ve heard only great things about Red Carpet Tours. So why haven’t I booked them back in 2009 you ask? I have not chosen Red Carpet Tours because my number one priority was to explore New Zealand. Middle-earth was, despite my obsession, only a small part for why I travelled to NZ. The second reason why I’ve not booked a tour with Red Carpet Tours was my limited budget. As great as they are, the do come at a price.
Nevertheless, I still highly recommend them and if you’re curious now, go and check out their various tour options, maybe you’ll find something that suits your needs.
Lord of the Rings Tours
Another tour operator that offers Middle-earth movie tours that last several days is Lord of the Rings Tours. Now, as far as I can tell, there is no one among my friends or acquaintances that booked a tour with them. So I can’t give any recommendations. Maybe a quick check on Trip Advisor will give you some reviews.
So, what now?
I know this post is all over the place, but I tried to give as many options as possible. In general, my tips fall into two categries you have to ask yourself when looking for guided tours:
A) Do you want an ‘all inclusive’ guided tour with a fixed itinerary that will take care of everything during your travel?
B) Do you want guided tours, but decide yourself which locations you want to visit and when you want to visit them?
If you’re looking for options under category A, then Red Carpet Tours or Lord of the Rings Tours will give you what you need. If your travel plans fall under the category B, then my post on Middle-earth News, Ian Brodie’s Location Guidebooks and Google should help you to find a movie tour of your desire.
Have you been to NZ and booked some of the movie tours? Do you have any recommendations that I’ve left out? Leave a comment down below!