by Thomas Brooks,
This spring’s release of the latest Hobbit film “The Desolation of Smaug” will no doubt inspire Aussies to spend their summer holiday among the Kiwis to visit the locales graced by Bilbo, Gandalf and the dwarves. Sir Peter Jackson’s visions have become one of New Zealand’s major tourist attractions and habe spawned an industry rivaling Moria’s treasures.
There are many tours that will take you ’round both of New Zealand’s gorgeous islands to see Middle Earth sites. However, driving offers the chance to stop at other, non-Hobbit locales as well and maybe absorb a bit of the local culture while you’re there. Anyone with a valid driver’s license can rent a car, so make your reservation ahead of time and be sure to budget insurance into your trip to cover delays, lost luggage, and anything unexpected.
Take charge and drive where Frodo and Bilbo could only walk!
Self-Drive LOTR and Hobbit Tours On New Zealand’s North and South Islands
More than 150 sites were used to film The Lord of The Rings series, and the current Hobbit trilogy, of which Smaug is the second, was filmed throughout the North and South Islands.
Drive ’round one island or cover both, taking one of the many Cook Strait ferries. Be sure to verify your rental is allowed on both islands. Some agencies will charge a new relocation fee if you don’t make appropriate arrangements in advance.
The Go New Zealand site lists driving tours that range from a four-day Hobbiton Loop to a fortnight that covers both islands. Seven-day tours are also available for each island, so choosing one or the other won’t be easy!
New Zealand Offers Urban and Mountain Adventures
Corrine Goodman, who arranges tailor-made New Zealand holidays recommends that if you are short on time and can’t spare more than a week, consider a more cosmopolitan or beach holiday, head to the North Island. If you prefer a mountainous backdrop, the South Island is where Sir Peter filmed those spectacular mountain scenes.
North Island features:
- Home to New Zealand’s largest and most urbane cities, Auckland and Wellington
- Warmer beach locales and scuba
- Maori culture, particularly in Rotorua
South Island features:
- Mountain scenery
- Marine and bird life, including penguins
- Home to six of New Zealand’s nine Great Walks
A Quickie South Island Hobbiton Tour
A four-day tour that blends the South Island’s urbane features with the Hobbiton set will have you driving approximately seven hours. First, spend a day in Auckland, where you must visit the iconic Sky Tower and maybe take a Sky Walk round it, shop along Queen Street, and enjoy a drink at a Vulcan Lane pub. Next day, drive to the Waitomo Caves and see the glowworms and perhaps book a room at the Hobbit Motel Units. Cap your visit to the Hobbiton film set where the much of the magic was accomplished.