June 23rd, 2014
According to most maps and guide books, the area between Invercargill to Te Anau is no more than a 2 hour drive with decent views and breathtaking Te Anau at the end. Most tourists drive straight through in their rush to see Milford Sound, but they don’t know what they are missing! We spent a couple days perusing around, and found more free things to do in this unpopulated, non-touristy corner of New Zealand than we have anywhere else in the country. We found so many free things to do, we didn’t spend any money!
Before driving away from the ocean from the south on Highway 99, we stopped at a beach called Gemstone Bay. At low tide on this gorgeous beach you can hear and see a million unpolished gemstones playing in the waves. As you walk toward the shore you can hear them getting tumbled around, and running in and out of the rocky area, timing your run with the waves is so exhilarating, we felt like kids playing in the surf! There is a sign in the parking lot telling you what types of gemstones you have found, so we chose the best few that we found, Red Jasper, Quartz and Jade, and kept them as a free souvenir!!
Along Highway 99 we stumbled upon Clifden caves, a free, easy, non guided caving experience. Make sure you bring two torches, and extra batteries, because very early
into the cave the sunlight vanishes. There is a map / sign at the mouth of the cave, and reflective arrows all the way through showing you the way. Short of the few crouchy bits and the last 200 metres or so, it is a nice easy walk through caverns and passages. The limestone and silica make the walls of each cavern different from the last, and the very old names carved into the soft clay are neat to look at, even if John Smith wasn’t actually there in 1906. We didn’t see any glow worms in Clifden Cave, but we didn’t miss them, we were too busy navigating!
A small detour to see New Zealands deepest lake and to finally step into fiordland turned into a day and night of free experiences. We drove all the way to the emd on Lillburn Valley Road, right into the parking lot by Lake Hauroko. This gorgeous lake offers incredible views that you can only find in fiordland, and all we did was take ten steps from the car! We decided to take the Lookout Point track, a 3 hour return, and were not disappointed. All along the second half of the track, you are rewarded for your uphill hiking by small lookouts overlooking the lake and mountains, the higher you climb, the better the views. When we finally reached the “lookout” we were breathless; not only from the hike, but from the view! All around us was breathtaking views of mountains, lakes, snow covered peaks to the north and the ocean to the south. The perfect way to finish the hike was to sit on the dock by the parking lot and have a beer, while taking in the view one more time. On the drive out we decided on the Thicket Burn campsite, a free DOC camp along the Lillburn Valley Road. It’s a basic site, but has a toilet and collected rainwater, and lots of grassy areas to park for the night.
Not only was the long way to Te Anau worth way more than the zero dollars we spent, but we did it all without crowds, we only met three other campervans throughout all of these activities! A quiet, adventure filled and free couple of days was a great southern experience, and a wonderful way to introduce ourselves to Fiordland!
Destination: Drive from Invercargill to Te Anau
Under $50 Activity: Free caving excursion at Clifden Caves
Bonus Activity #1:Free Gemstone Hunt at Gemstone Bay
Bonus Activity #2: Free camping at thicket burn DOC
Cheap Deal: Free Lookout point hike
February 19th, 2014
Auckland is New Zealand’s largest and most bustling city. Made up of a unique mix of cultures and people, the atmosphere of Auckland is not easily beaten. The city is set within a natural paradise, surrounded by idyllic beaches, relaxing holiday islands and a rugged coastline; which is home to rare and endangered wildlife. Experiencing all that makes Auckland great doesn’t have to cost you the world – in fact there is lots to see and do for under $50.
Waitemata Harbour Cruise
The best way to take in the beauty of this region is by sea. The Auckland harbour, made famous by the America’s Cup, is a place where boaties from far and wide gather to enjoy the unique coast and calm waters. Enjoy exploring the unique landmarks of Auckland and get an up close view of the magnificent Harbour Bridge. You will enjoy a stop over at Rangitoto Island and be able to take in the atmosphere while appreciating some of New Zealand’s famous coffee. An adult ticket is only $40.
If you have travelled to New Zealand to marvel at our rare wildlife then perhaps a trip to the Auckland Zoo might be right up your alley. Some of New Zealand’s most precious animals can be found here, allowing you to have a once in a lifetime experience. Enjoy meeting our famous Kiwis, the Tuatara – the world’s oldest living dinosaurs and our endangered birdlife. There are also lots of other exotic creatures to keep you busy and tons of hands on experiences for the whole family to enjoy. No holiday is complete without a trip to the Zoo – and for only $25 an adult, it’s a bargain.
Kelly Tarltons Aquarium
If you have had a swim at one of the beautiful beaches around New Zealand during your holiday you will have likely met some exciting marine life. Penguins, seals and dolphins are all found in New Zealand waters – and if you are after an up close encounter then the aquarium in Auckland is the place for you. There are over 80 different species at Kelly Tarltons that can be viewed from their amazing underwater tunnels. The largest Antarctic penguin colony in the world is found here, and if sharks are your thing – they have these too. If you are interested in dicing with danger then sign yourself up for an underwater dive experience or just enjoy the stunning marine displays. It’s a whole day of fun for only $36 per adult.
Waiheke Island Explorer Tour
Within the pristine Auckland Harbour are the Hauraki Gulf Islands – all picturesque, pure and inviting. Waiheke Island is the second largest in the Gulf and boasts a sparkling coastline of turquoise waters and golden sand. The island is made up of forest, vineyards, farmland and lush olive groves.
The people of Waiheke are known for their craftsmanship, artistic flair and culinary skills. A journey to the island will awaken all of your senses and allow you to experience a unique slice of New Zealand’s culture. For just $48 you can jump aboard the ferry and cruise across the beautiful Gulf to the island. When on the island, you will be taken for a tour to see the highlights and encounter some of what makes Waiheke truly unforgettable.
Unlike many international cities, experiencing Auckland doesn’t have to cost a packet. In fact many of the activities that you will find the most memorable are free – walking the bustling Queen Street, strolling alongside the harbour and meeting our friendly locals. Grab a map, some sturdy footwear and immerse yourself in what makes this city great.
February 19th, 2014
Experiencing your own slice of New Zealand doesn’t have to cost a truckload. The old saying, ‘the best things in life are free’ rings true when you head down under. The natural beauty of our country is yours for the taking and wont cost you a cent, but if your budget can stretch just that little bit further, there are plenty of things to do for under $50.
If you find yourself in the rugged mountainous town of Queenstown have your wallet at the ready, there are many exciting experiences up for the picking. Being the adrenaline capital of New Zealand means that Queenstown has a great range of activities that will get your heart pumping – and they don’t need to cost you the world.
The Skyline Gondola
If dangling above dense forest is your thing then you are going to love taking a ride in the Skyline Gondola. The Gondola had the steepest incline in the Southern Hemisphere and offers spectacular views of Queenstown and the surrounding mountains. At the top of the ride you are 450 feet above the township below and are able to enjoy the view of the richly blue Lake Wakatipu. All of this for the bargain price of just $27 an adult.
The Skyline Luge
After you have enjoyed the view from the top of the Gondola, why not try your hand at launching yourself down the side of the hill in a Luge? Plummeting down the hillside at top speed is an experience you will not easily forget and driving a Luge is a thrill for all ages. There are a couple of different tracks to suit those who are after a leisurely ride or wanting a heart pumping descent. Get your heart rate up for just $36 for an adult.
Lake Wakatipu Cruise
If you feel like hitting the water without getting your feet wet then a cruise around the pristine Lake Wakatipu is not to be missed. The Million Dollar Lake Cruise company will whisk you away on their luxury boat for a tour of this magnificent region. Cruise across the pristine, clear waters on a journey to the stunning Kawarau Falls and gaze at the Remarkables Mountain range. You will be sure to see some of New Zealand’s native wildlife and find out everything you ever wanted to know about Queenstown from the informative Captain. All this, and a glass of local wine for just $25.
You might think dining on fine Kiwi cuisine is going to cost a packet – well think again. Head down to Fergburger, located right in the heart of Queenstown and sample the most famous burgers this side of the Tasman. Crafted from local fare, and assembled by expert burger makers, the meals here are delicious and deliciously inexpensive. The queues are long but the atmosphere is brilliant, and dining at Fergburger will allow you to meet all walks of Kiwi life. Grab a local brew and dine out on the lakeside for an unforgettable experience. Meals are around $15.
These are just a handful of activities that you can enjoy for under $50. Some of the best experiences you will have in New Zealand cannot be planned – but you will find you will spend less than you anticipated here and enjoy more than you could ever have imagined. Our best advice is to get amongst it and mingle with the locals, they are friendly and can steer you towards an adventure!
January 26th, 2014
Our friends over at JUCY are giving away 3x romantic road trips in the Glampavan of Love! Put in your entries now to be in to win! winwithjucy.com
Glampavan Competition Terms and Conditions
• The winner of the JUCY Valentine’s Day Glampavan competition will win a 7-day trip in a special JUCY campervan
• Travel black-out dates may apply and hire is subject to availability
• The hire includes complimentary JUCY stress-free insurance
• One winner each for NZ, Australia and the USA
• The contents of the glampavan may vary in each country
• Winners are subject to all regular rental terms and conditions for JUCY and the driving laws of each country
• Only entries submitted via social media will be accepted
• All entries must use the hashtag #JUCYwin to be eligible to enter
• The prize is valid for one year from March 1st, black-out dates apply for each market and will be given to the winner upon claiming their prize
• Winner agrees to their entry, name and any imagery and video related to the win to be used by JUCY for advertising, marketing and PR in any medium indefinitely
• Winner must be available for media interviews
• Winner will supply content in the form of photos, videos and a blog entry to JUCY for use in social media and online at the end of their Glampavan trip
• Winner is responsible for covering their own fuel costs and other travel-related expenses
May 20th, 2013
Driving into the glacier towns, whether you are coming from the north or south, is like driving into another world. The mix of farmland, beaches and snow capped mountains is enough to make you want to just stop and stare, but don’t stop too long, because we found so many enjoyable activities to do while you’re there.
The most popular tourist attractions in Fox and Franz Josef towns are unmistakably the two glaciers. These mass expanses of beautiful blue ice descend from the southern alps into very accessible valleys. After a quick visit to the i-site, we decided the best way for us to get the full glacier experience on a budget was to follow the hiking trail up to both glaciers in one day. We started with Fox glacier as the trail to it is a shorter walk than the Franz Josef. As soon as we drove up to the Fox Glacier parking lot we already had
an impressive view of the glacier, and as we walked the trail through the glacial moraine, the views just got better and better. This trail changes almost daily because of the glacial activity and flooding, and the DOC does a great job maintaining it. The viewpoint gave us a great view of the bottom of the glacier, and as soon as we got there a massive chunk of ice slowly fell off and crashed into the water below, creating a wave that we watched travel all the way down the river and back to the parking lot. What an incredible sight to see!
We had a quick lunch at the van before making our way to Franz Josef. The parking lot at this glacier is surrounded by the beautiful temperate rainforest, and the hike begins through this gorgeous forest, before descending onto the moraine. The hike to Franz Joseph is significantly longer than the Fox Glacier trail, but the sights you see are completely worth the longer walk. As soon as we walked out of the forest we were greeted with two large waterfalls. The waterfalls are very easy to access from the trail, and that water was the best tasting I have ever had. We continued along the trail, passing through a field of boulders that the glacier dropped there so many years ago. Just over the only hill at the end of the trail, suddenly we had the glacier right in front of us, and we could see all the way up to the first bright-blue icefall. What a sight, words cannot describe how massive and beautiful it is!
As much as I love a good hike, and as mild as these two hikes were, I’ll admit, my legs and feet were moderately sore. The lady at the i-site also told us about the Glacier Hot Pools, a man-made hot spring complex right in the town of Franz Josef. Everything about these pools scream luxury, except the price. $23 gets you access to the three public pools, and they also have private pools for a higher price. The public pools are surrounded in lush rainforest, the fern trees making a canopy over the pools. They have sun shades over the pools as well, and when it rains the shades make a cool mist, the perfect compliment to a hot pool. The design and shape of the pools make it very easy to seclude yourself from other bathers if you want to, but can also be a very social setting, it all depends on where you sit.
The West Coast Wildlife Centre was the perfect way to spend our second day in the glacier towns. They offer a package deal for $40 which includes all day entry into the Wildlife Centre, and a ½ hour backstage pass to see the breeding and incubation program with your own guide! The Wildlife Centre has two kiwi’s that you can view up close, a wildlife exhibit and a huge glacier exhibit. We recommend doing the package deal while you’re there, being up close with kiwi chicks is unbeatable!
Destination: Fox and Franz Josef Glacier Towns
Under $50 Activity: Glacier Hot Pools
Bonus Activity: West Coast Wildlife Centre
Cheap Deal: Viewing 2 glaciers in one day.
January 24th, 2013
The West Coast has been calling our name lately, so after a trip to the glaciers, it was time to head north and see what other adventures we could find. Greymouth is the central hub of the West, the biggest town in the area. It is a great base to explore between Hokitika and Westport because it has everything you need in a town, without the busy, fast paced feeling.
While exploring the area we happened upon On Yer Bike, an off road heaven of 4 wheelers, go carts and 8 wheeler argos used on a spectacular and muddy trail system just outside of Greymouth. We opted for the ½ hour argo tour, and this small 8 wheel drive vehicle did not disappoint! Because we were there during a few days of rain the trails were extra wet, and that could be why we had such a blast. The deeper the water the better in these machines. Our guide Mike was great, he fed off of our excitement and could really read our comfort levels, giving us just enough thrill without any fear. The trail system on the property is well done and takes you through lush native forest, farmers fields, steep hills and even through a river before returning to the cafe/office. Once at the cafe we warmed up with a cuppa and made use of their free wifi.
Greymouth is home to one of the best beer brands we have tasted in New Zealand, Monteith’s. The brewery was started in 1868, and has been producing this famous beer ever since. Recently the brewery has undergone a facelift, changing from producing Monteith’s signature beers, to focusing more on the seasonal ones, sending mass production elsewhere in New Zealand. Their brewery has also recently been completely redone, and we were lucky enough to get the first tour of the new brewery! The tour takes you through all of their new shiny equipment, while telling you all about the beer making process. After that the tour moves onto the bottling and kegging rooms. The best part about the tour, in our opinion, is learning about the older, homemade machines, hand crafted by one of the long term employees of the brewery. During the tour as well you are invited to the tasting area where you get a chance to pour your own beer from the tap. It is set up as a sort of VIP lounge, very prestigious. Call ahead to book your time and ask about the different Passport options, they have deals with local restaurants and transport companies that you can take advantage of.
Punakaiki or Pancake Rocks is one of New Zealand’s most famous natural attractions, and is a great half-day side trip from Greymouth. There isn’t much else close to the Pancake Rocks other than some Cafe’s, a cave and the i-site, but walking around the walkways, watching the blowholes and delighting in the rocks can really take some well enjoyed time.
The West coast is a great place to spend time, the laid back attitude and friendly locals combined with the unique and interesting activities make it a great place to slow down and enjoy.
Under $50 Activity: On Yer Bike
Bonus Activity: Punakaiki Pancake Rocks
Cheap Deal: Monteiths Brewery Tour
January 16th, 2013
Franz Josef is such a scenic area to be in, and it’s abundance of free campgrounds in the surrounding area make it the perfect place to set up a base for a few days.
We found ourselves at Gillespies Beach, a gorgeous free DOC campground just outside of the town, on a beautiful, warm evening with clear skies right above us and over the ocean, with rain just past us over the mountains. As blue skies turned into starry skies, the rain staying just past our little piece of paradise, and new introductions of fellow travelers turning to friendships, we realized this was the perfect evening to explore the Kiwi phenomenon known as the Swappa-crate.
The Swappa crate, or ‘Puinamu’ which translates to ‘wooden crate with beer’, is one of the best things about New Zealand, from a backpackers point of view. It contains 12 x 750mL bottles of decent beer, Tui or Speights being our personal favourites. The first time you buy a swappa you are charged for the crate and bottles, but every time after that you swap your empty crate for a full one, you save money and it’s the perfect way to recycle your empty bottles. The best part is, you have an abundance of beer, and a bit of extra cash.
So while we were on this gorgeous pebble beach, with new friends and an abundance of beer, there was only one thing to do. We piled up some beachwood, lit a fire, and shared our Swappa with our new friends. We heard stories from all over the world as we sat around the fire, had a lot of laughs and made some long lasting friendships as well. It was a difficult task, but with our new friends and a gorgeous beach and fire, we were able to get through the Swappa by the time the sun came up.
The next day we slept late, abandoned all hope for an active day, and enjoyed Flowing West – The Glacier Movie at the local theatre. Without giving too much away, Flowing West is a well made, scenic ride through the water cycle, from ocean to glacier and back. It was the perfect activity for a rainy, post Swappa afternoon.
Destination: Franz Josef
Under $50 Activity: Swappa on the Beach
Bonus Activity: Gillespies Beach Campground
Cheap Deal: Flowing West – The Glacier Movie
January 10th, 2013
The town of Hanmer Springs is a secluded paradise, and seems to be built around the famous hot pools. While Hanmer Springs Thermal Resort is an incredible place to spend a day, it is definitely not the only thing to do in Hanmer Springs.
As we were driving into Hanmer Springs, we noticed a handful of tour operators along the road into town. One that caught our eye was Hanmer Llamas and their short llama trek. They offer a two hour llama trek with light refreshments included in the price. Trekking with llamas is not something we ever considered before, but these well trained, affectionate animals are a joy to hike with. They carry packs along the trail so you don’t have to, and are so mild tempered. The laamas were originally trained to carry packs for hunting and fishing excursions, but they also love a quick walk around the large property, and the views are exquisite.
Hanmer Springs Thermal Resort is what this town is famous for, and for good reason. If you want a full on theme park sized hot pool complex at a very reasonable price, this is the place for you. No it’s not a natural hot spring, but it uses natural, geothermally heated, filtered water in it’s many pools, and has so many different pools it’s difficult to choose which one to go in. Our favourites, as hard as it was to choose, were the Aquatherapy pools, which have jets and waterfalls that literally massage head to toe, and the sulphur pools, which may smell like sulphur, but feels like liquid silk on your skin. We spent the entire day, and evening there, trying out all of the different pools, we even indulged and paid the extra money for the water slides, which completed the fun-factor of this great day.
If you are more interested in a small private, natural hotspring this area is still perfect for you. Just west on Lewis Pass Road (Highway 7) after the road crosses the river is a small, completely natural hot spring, right beside the cold rushing river. If you can handle sand flies, or have bug repellant, this place is like something out of a movie. Cue the naked hippies, and action! The small pools are perfect size for two or four people, and the ice cold river is perfect for keeping your beer cold. If you keep driving in Lewis Pass road a little further, the Deer Flats Campground is free.
Whether you’re looking for one of the best tourist attractions or an obscure, off-the-beaten-path type of activity, Hanmer Springs has it all.
Destination: Hanmer Springs
Under $50 Activity: Llama walk
Bonus Activity: Sylvia Flats
Cheap Deal: Hanmer Springs
December 17th, 2012
Kaikoura is known for it’s dolphin, whale and seal tours out on the ocean, the depth of the water just off of the shore makes it the perfect location for these once-in-a-lifetime tours. However, we stayed on land in Kaikoura, and I can honestly say we had the time of our lives, without even touching the water, and keeping our money where it belongs, in our wallets.
We found Fyffe View Adventure Park, a tourist friendly farm with so much to offer, just off the beaten track from Kaikoura township. They offer everything from a petting zoo, to horse treks, even off road go carts. They offer half hour horse treks around a
trail system on their property, the perfect introduction to someone who has never ridden a horse before. While the horses were being prepared for our ride, we bought a small bucket of food and went to enjoy the petting zoo. This was one of the better petting zoos we have been to, they had everything from peacocks to deer fawns. The horse ride was perfect for beginners, we followed the guide at a slow pace through a lush wild field, through trees and flowers. It was very relaxing and a great introduction to horse riding. If horse riding isn’t your thing, they also offer mountain kart lugeing on their outdoor track for under $50, but when the track is too wet they close it down.
Traveling around and visiting New Zealand’s many beautiful beaches, we have found countless paua shells just laying on the beach. In souvenir shops around the country these shells polished go for between $15 and $50, even though you can pick them up in their raw form on most beaches. We found Southern Paua in Kaikoura that will polish any paua shell you bring in, for only $5. We thought this was one of the best Kiwi souvenirs you can get, so we had to try. We chose our biggest shell, because we were told the older it is the better, and had the owner of the shop polish it for us. It came out absolutely stunning! It looked like the ones out of the most expensive souvenir shop, but better, because we found it. What a neat experience to bring in something that you found on a beach, and walk out with a stunning souvenir!
Like I stated above, Kaikoura is known for its wildlife tours, mainly because the wildlife is so easily accessible. Without venturing onto the water, we found a place like no other. A gorgeous, and quite large waterfall with a perfectly round pool, cascading into a babbling brook. Yes, New Zealand has many of these, but this specific one had at least a hundred fur seal pups jumping, playing, resting and posing for the camera. One even came up and kissed our video camera! We have seen fur seals around the south island, but to see this many pups, with no adults playing wildly under this breathtaking waterfall was an unexpected and astonishing surprise.
When in Kaikoura, we definitely recommend spending the extra money and taking a tour on the water, but if you’re on a backpacker budget, there is still so much more than just the oceanic wildlife tours.
Under $50 Activity: Fyffe View Adventure Park
Bonus Activity: Paua Shell Polish
Cheap Deal: Ohau Waterfall Seal Pups
November 28th, 2012
The Hobbit & Lord of the Rings series has brought a new kind of tourism to New Zealand, taking fans of the Tolkien adventures all over this beautiful country. Some of the films locations are off the beaten track and you might not be able to reach them with a campervan. Due to the locations recent popularity you can always a way to reach your destination whether by car, campervan, tour bus, or helicopter.
Matamata – The Shire and Hobbiton Movie Set
Hobbiton has a 2 hour tour that leaves 7 times per day visiting Bag End including the house of Bilbo Baggins, the Party Tree and 44 hobbit holes. The site will remain a permanent tourist attraction. It is the one remaining man-made set location from the movie still standing, and is co-owned by Peter Jackson. The site has been rebuilt for ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ and will remain in place for many years to come as a gift to Tourism New Zealand.
Tongariro National Park – Mount Doom
Mount Ruapehu is the highest point in the North Island at 2,797 meters and it is also one of the best skiing spots in the North Island. It has the North Island’s only glacier and is also an active volcano. Both Mount Ruapehu and Mount Tongariro were depicted as Mount Doom in the films, with long shots of Tongariro and shots on the slope of Ruapehu. The new Hobbit film will also feature shots of these two mountains.
Putangirua Pinnacles – Paths of the Dead
The Putangirua Pinnacles are in the Aorangi Forest Park on the Pinnacles track. Here you can see the strange rock formations where Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli ride to meet the Army of the Dead.
Wellington – WETA workshop
The Weta Cave Museum was the first Weta Cave site with interactive displays and collectables available to check out without an entrance fee. Located in Miramar, Wellington, it is the larger of the two Weta Cave sites and has a mini-museum to learn more about the artistic process behind creating some of the wonderful special effects they produce here.
Kaitoke Regional Park – Rivendell
Kaitoke Regional Park is north of Upper Hutt near Wellington in the foothills of the Tararua Ranges. Check out the Ridge Track to see the beautiful hills and views of the Upper Hutt Valley. Sunlight filters through the trees just as it did at the House of Elrond.
Harcourt Park in Upper Hutt – Gardens of Isengard
Harcourt Park is located on Akatarawa Road in the Rimutaka Mountains in Upper Hutt which is 20 minutes from Wellington.
Waitarere Forest – Osgiliath Wood
Waitarere Forest is just north of Wellington along the coast and was chosen by Peter Jackson to represent the ‘Trollshaws’, a woodland area west of Rivendell. This is where Frodo, Sam and Smeagol walked after leaving Faramir.
Whakapapa Skifield – Emyn Muil
Whakapapa Skifield is New Zealand’s largest skifield with a variety of terrain suitable for first-time beginners through to seasoned professionals. This is where Frodo and Sam catch Gollum who then leads them on their journey.
Mangawhero River – Gates of Mordor
Located near the Tukino skifield at Mount Ruapehu. This is where the scene was filmed in which Frodo, Sam and Gollum see the Gates of Mordor before having to climb around them.
Fiordland – River Anduin
Waiau River scenes served as the opening aerial shot of The Fellowship of the Ring showing off its forested banks. This piece of land was proposed to be named ‘Anduin Reach’ to honour the work done by Peter Jackson on the Lord of the Rings films. The proposal was denied by the New Zealand Geographic Board.
Mackenzie Country – Pelennor Fields
Near Twizel in the Mackenzie Country, Peter Jackson filmed the epic battle of the Pelennor Fields, where thousands of orcs bred by Sauron clashed with the men of Gondor and Rohan. The grassy fields that stretch to the foothills of the mountains look exactly as described in The Lord of the Rings. The location is on private land, however you can arrange a tour in the town of Twizel.
Mt Sunday, Canterbury – Edoras
Mount Sunday in Canterbury was used as Edoras, the home and capital city of the Rohan people.
Queenstown – Ford of Bruinen
Arrowtown, a beautiful, small former mining town is where you can find the Arrow River which is where Arwen defeated the Nazgul by creating a flood.
Nelson – The Ring
Jens Hansen, who was the goldsmith responsible for creating the rings used in the films, has his workshop here and you can view the original rings on display or buy 9 ct or 18 ct copies.
Takaha Hill – Chetwood Forest
Just west of Nelson is Takaka Hill where the hobbits hid from the Black Riders.
Mount Owen – Dimrill Dale
Mount Owen is where The Fellowship, now without Gandalf, escape Moria. From the air in a helicopter, you can get a panoramic view of three national parks in the area including Abel Tasman, Nelson Lakes and Kahurangi.
Cardrona Valley – Various LOTR Landmarks
Mount Cardrona has a panoramic view of some Middle-Earth landmarks. At the summit you could see on the left the River Anduin and the Pillars of the Argonath, the hills in front are Dimrill Dale, and Amon Hen on the shore of Nen Hithoel further down the horizon.
Kawarau Suspension Bridge – The Argonath on the River Anduin
Kawarau Suspension Bridge overlooking the Kawarau River is where the fellowship pass the Pillars of the Kings on the Anduin River.
As you can see the sites are spread out all over the country, taking you to some of the most picturesque landscapes in all of New Zealand. If you are really interested to have all the details there is a good book on the subject by Ian Brodie called ‘Lord of the Rings Location Guidebook’ that has GPS coordinates along with more details about the locations and how they were used in the films. The best part is most of the locations are free to visit and many of them are easy enough to access that it won’t interrupt your trip schedule. Even if you aren’t a fan of the movies, many of these locations are some of the top tourist destinations in New Zealand so you can’t go wrong paying a visit to these places.