GNT’s new Tourstarter tours not only allow you to help build the tour that you want to go on, but also puts money back in your pocket via profit sharing. As the tour grows – tour participants will enjoy a reduction in their fare. Of course, pricing is not fixed as we have yet to build the tour together, but based on past tours tour participants can expect a price reduction at 20 participants of $125.00 USD, at 25 participants that reduction increases to $200.00 USD and at a sell out of 30 tour participants expect a tour reduction of $250.00 USD.
Further, the tour pricing is based on past tour research. It may fluctuate while we build the tour but hopefully will remain close to the indicated rate.
Spread the word and help us put some money back into your pocket (next to the one ring you carry)…
We are starting off with only a limited number of participants on this tour to make sure we keep the group intimate, and for ease of travel. Book soon as we are starting off with a 20 participant maximum…
About this TourStarter Tour
WE HAVE YET TO BUILD THIS TOUR! We are itching to get to it however, and thus have it listed as a Tourstarter project (see the Special Notice notes above and the “I’m Interested” notes to the right)… The dates have not been settled on nor have tour details been arranged. The currently described route shown below is also up for changes although we feel those places are must sees for LotR and Hobbit fans…
Some of the questions we first will have to ask are…
A) Currently, GNT has picked February 2023 for this tour… New Zealand will be headed into spring at that time but the tourism season will not yet be in full swing. Do we however, want to change the month of travel?
B) We have many walks (and some will be challenged by Mt. Doom) as walking is a big part of the Tolkien experience, but should we include more hiking?
C) Should we explore an “off road experience” – perhaps using ATVs or even hoping on horseback?
D) Do we need more free time on the tour?
E) This tour is currently divided into two 7 day tours. Should we automatically make it a 14 day tour or should we continue to leave either the north or south island visits optional?
Join Geek Nation Tours on a voyage across the Sundering Seas to the realm of Middle Earth. More commonly known as the land of New Zealand, we will journey from north to south and visit filming locations from Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. We’ll also partake in a handful of experiences to place ourselves right inside of the story itself. And yes, we WILL walk right into Mordor! We are offering a seven day tour of the north island, a seven day tour of the south island, or a thirteen day tour of both islands. Check out the itinerary below to decide which tour package is right for you. Whichever route you take, it is sure to be the Unexpected Journey of a lifetime!
Day 1 - Auckland (Friday, Feb. 17, 2023) / Welcome to New Zealand/Middle Earth
Today is the day your fellowship will gather from all corners of the globe. Whether you arrive precisely when you mean to by modern aircraft, elvish ship, or prancing pony, you will be given detailed instructions how to reach your hotel. There you will meet a ranger from the north, better known as your GNT Tour Leader. Upon arrival the day is yours. Feel free to rest and relax after your long journey, however, if you want to make the most of your day, your Tour Leader will be able to provide you with recommendations on what to see and do and advice on how to get there.
In the evening, you’ll break bread with the other members of your party at our welcome dinner. This is where you’ll officially meet and greet your traveling companions and your Tour Leader will give a more detailed explanation of the itinerary and answer questions about what to expect along the way.
Overnight Location: Auckland
Day 2 - Waitomo (Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023) / Hobbiton and the Waitomo Caves
We set out on our adventure bright and early in the morning and making our way to the village of Hobbiton. Hobbiton served as the set for the village of Bilbo, Frodo, Sam, Pippen, and Merry in both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. Bring your appetite as we’ll be having lunch on site at the Green Dragon Inn after our guided tour of the set and before continuing on to Waitomo Caves. In the caves you’ll experience spelunking like no other and will feel like someone has doused the light from the Two Trees of Valinor and brought Varda’s stars from the sky and placed them close enough to touch.
Day 3 - Turoa (Sunday, Feb. 19, 2023) / Mount Doom and the Tongariro Crossing
We’ll be off before sunrise in order to reach the world renowned Tongariro Crossing. This hiking trail crosses Mount Ngauruhoe, an active volcano which doubled as Mount Doom in the film series. Yes, we will in fact simply be walking into Mordor and likely making our own memes in the process. The entire hike is rated moderate and typically takes 7 to 8 hours, but we’ll allow ourselves 9 hours to complete the course and break for lunch during the hike. Your Tour Leader will make sure everyone is supplied with a nourishing packed lunch as well as water (but please make sure to bring your own backpack to carry your supplies) and is responsible for getting the entire group safely past the gaze of Sauron. In the end, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views and an unbelievable sense of accomplishment upon completing the trek.
Please note: You will be able to opt out of this experience if you feel it is too challenging. Your Tour Leader will do their best to accommodate your decision.
Day 4 - Wellington (Monday, Feb. 20, 2023) / Gollum's Pond and the Outer Edges of the Shire...
After a long day, we’ll make sure to leave a little later than normal and treat ourselves to a bit of a lie in. We’ll depart after breakfast and make our way to Tawhai Falls, also known as Gollum’s Pool. This is where Gollum can be seen merrily singing a song, catching a fish, and bashing it against the rocks in The Two Towers. We’ll continue on by coach to Rauwaka Falls which was not used as a filming location, but it does give us an opportunity to break up the day’s drive and stretch our legs before heading further down the road and stopping for lunch near the town of Wanganui. We’ll then make our way to Waitarere Forest. The tall, thick, and widely spaced trees of this logging forest served as the edge of Osgiliath where Gollum lead Frodo and Sam and plotted their demise at the end of The Two Towers. Then we’ll continue on to Otaki Gorge. This pleasantly rolling green and wooded area served as the outer edges of the Shire in the film series. It’s a wonderfully amusing example of movie magic since in the films this area is just outside of Hobbiton, but in real life it’s two days’ of driving away on the complete opposite end of the island!
Day 5 - Wellington (Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023) / “Get off the road!” and WETA Workshop
After breakfast, we’ll set off for Wellington’s Mt. Victoria. Not only does this lush hillside provide a spectacular view of the city and bays below, but it is also the location of the “Get off the road!” scene in The Fellowship of the Ring. We’ll do our best to avoid any ringwraiths along the wooded path. From there, we’ll sneak off to The Weta Cave where we’ll take in a tour of the effects studio that brought the world of Middle Earth to life as well as out of this world creatures and vehicles from District 9, Avatar, and Thunderbirds Are GO. After an extensive tour of the studio we’ll rush around the corner to the Weta Workshop where we’ll have a hands on seminar in practical effects from the Weta crew! Get your hands dirty as you recreate your own practical effects like those used in The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, and King Kong.
After a full day learning up close what happens behind the scenes, we’ll meander to the historic Roxy Cinema. Dinner is served in the adjacent Coco restaurant before we take in that evening’s main feature. There’s no telling what will be playing when we visit, but the majestic art deco building will provide a luxurious foreground to whatever is glowing on the silver screen.
Day 6 - Wellington (Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023) / From the River Anduin to Isengard to Rivendell and Lothlorien
Today will be our last day on the north island and it is sure not to disappoint. We’ll set off by coach on a custom Lord of the Rings tour in the area around Wellington. Our first waypoint will be Moonshine Park just north of the city. We’ll slowly follow the Hutt River to nearby Totara Park. You may recognize the bright waters and sandy banks by another name as this stretch served as the River Anduin during the films. We’ll continue on and make an extended stop at Harcourt Park just around the bend. Harcourt was the setting of the gardens of Isengard in The Fellowship of the Ring where Gandalf sought the counsel of Sauroman before being betrayed by the white wizard and locked in his tower. From here, we’ll make a short trip to Kaitoke Regional Park. This lush expanse of protected New Zealand forest doubles as Rivendell, the home of Elrond and the elves and where the Fellowship was officially formed.
After swearing an oath to protect the ringbearer, we travel to the village of Featherston and break for lunch before continuing to the Fernside Inn for an exclusive tour of the property. The grounds of this mansion were used both as Lothlorien, the mystical home of Galadriel, and the pond where Deagol found the One Ring shortly before his best friend Smeagol murdered him and took the ring for himself. We’ll then return to Wellington and visit the Stansburough Woll Mill. We’ll be treated to a tour of the mill and learn more about New Zealand wool production and how Stansburough produced elven cloaks and other wool clothing for the film series.
Upon returning to our hotel we’ll have a moment to catch our breath before our Farewell Dinner in the hotel restaurant. We’ll bid farewell to our newfound friends great and small as our own fellowship of travelers disbands.
Day 7 - Wellington (Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023) / Well Met and See You Soon Again...
If you’ve booked only the North Island portion of the tour, today is the day that you will set off on your own way. Your GNT Tour Leader will be on hand early in the morning to assist you with getting where you need to go. You may be leaving your fellow travelers behind, but the memories you’ve made along the way will last a lifetime!
Optional Post-Tour Add-on
Day 1 - Nelson (Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023) / Hello and Welcome to Middle Earth
If you’ve book only the South Island portion of the tour, today is the day when your fellowship will gather from all corners of the globe. Whether you arrive precisely when you mean to by modern aircraft, elvish ship, or prancing pony, you will be given detailed instructions how to reach your hotel. Upon arrival the day is yours. Feel free to rest and relax after your long journey, however, if you want to make the most of your day, you will be given recommendations on what to see and do and advice on how to get there.
In the evening, you will meet a ranger from the north, better known as your GNT Tour Leader, and you’ll break bread with the other members of your party at our welcome dinner. This is where you’ll officially meet and greet your traveling companions and your Tour Leader will give a more detailed explanation of the itinerary and answer questions about what to expect along the way.
Day 2 - Hanmer Springs (Friday, Feb. 24, 2023) / Forging the Ring...
This morning we’ll pack our bags, check out of our hotel, and head south toward the spa town of Hanmer Springs. However, before we leave Nelson we’ll visit Jens Hanson Studio, the jeweler responsible for creating numerous pieces for the film series including the One Ring itself! We’ll stop for lunch during the drive and arrive in Hanmer Springs in the early afternoon. You’ll have a bit of down time to use as you please, but you may want to take advantage of one of the towns soothing hot spring spas. In the evening, we’ll travel to a nearby winery to learn more about New Zealand wine and then enjoy a spectacular dinner together perfectly matched to the locally cultivated wines.
Day 3 - Geraldine (Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023) / Riding Out Like the Riders of Rohan
Today we’ll start with the long coach ride via Christchurch to Mount Sunday. Although it now sits empty, you will immediately recognize the isolated mound as Edoras, home of Théoden King and the Rohirrim Horse Lords. We’ll climb Mount Sunday together which is exponentially less daunting than the Tongariro Crossing on the North Island (only 1 hour round trip compared to 8 hours for Tongariro).
From Mount Sunday, we’ll continue to Geraldine and bolster our Rohan experience by taking a horse trekking tour together through the forests and fields. The tour should only last about two hours, however if the Beacons of Minas Tirith are lit and Gondor calls for aid, we may be expected to ride to the rescue.
Day 4 - Wanaka (Sunday, Feb. 26, 2023) / Lake Pukaki and Lake Town
By the end of the day our odometer will register nearly 350 kilometers, but our journey will be much greater than that as we’ll visit locations from both Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies on our way south. Our first stop in the morning is Lake Pukaki, the real life location of the fictional Lake Town. From there we’ll head to the nearby town of Twizel and refuel ourselves with lunch together. After lunch we’ll meet up with a local guide and take an extended Lord of the Rings tour in Twizel. You’ll quickly recognize the flatlands surrounding the town as the Pelenol Fields between the port of Osgiliath and the mighty city of Minas Tirith where the penultimate battle between the forces of good and evil faced off in The Reutrn of the King. After the tour we’ll continue to the resort town of Wanaka to check in to our hotel for the evening and share stories over dinner together.
Day 5 - Queenstown (Monday, Feb. 27, 2023) / The Pillars of Kings and an Off Road Tour
Make sure you take in both first and second breakfast before we depart in the morning as we’ll have another long day of combined travel and film location visiting. We’ll begin by visiting the Kawarau River, another location used for the River Anduin in The Fellowship of the Ring, this time featuring the massive Pillars of Kings (added digitally after shooting). From there we’ll continue to Skippers Canyon. This location is often overlooked by local film tours but played an important part in The Fellowship of the Ring where Arwen uses the river to defeat the ringwraiths after challenging them to “come and take” Frodo. We’ll stop for lunch in the town of Glenorchy before splitting into smaller groups to tour the Glenorchy and Paradise filming locations with Nomad Safaris as the dirt roads and narrow bridges aren’t navigable by coach. After the tour, we’ll continue on to Queenstown where we’ll unpack for the remainder of the tour and enjoy dinner together to compare notes from the day.
Day 6 - Queenstown (Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023) / Of Farewell Dinners and Free Days...
After all the adventures and racing through the country, today is a free day for you to do as you please. There are numerous activities to keep you entertained either related to the silver screen realm of Middle Earth or not. Your GNT Tour Leader will be on hand to offer suggestions and advice to make the most of your day in Queenstown and is likely to make an informal excursion for a nearby activity that you will me more than welcome to join! In the evening, we’ll regather and share one last Farewell Dinner together to celebrate the completion of getting "There and Back Again".
Day 7 - Queenstown (Wednesday, Mar. 1, 2023) / To Sail Home with Elves...
If you’ve booked only the South Island portion of the tour or both islands together, today is the day that you will set off on your own way. Your GNT Tour Leader will be on hand early in the morning to assist you with getting where you need to go. You may be leaving your fellow travelers behind, but the memories you’ve made along the way will last a lifetime!
If this sounds like your kind of adventure, we’d be glad to have you join us. The journey can be booked as either a North Island, South Island, or combination tour. However, keep in mind that space for both islands is limited and we ask that you please notify us of which option you would like at the time of booking. Remember that the Hobbit Kayak Tour is only available to guests booking the combination tour. We’ll be excited to see what kind of halflings, elves, dwarves, goblins, orcs, Mithrandir, and men (and women) share in this amazing once-in-a-lifetime adventure!
Please note: The North Island Tour features an average amount of walking during location visits and tours and includes the extended hike over the Tongariro Crossing. The tour is recommended for individuals with average and above levels of physical fitness (however, guests will have the option of skipping the Tongariro hike). The South Island Tour also features an average amount of walking during location visits as well as a short hike up and down Mount Sunday (30 minutes each way). The tour is recommended for everyone.
NOTE: Attendance of special guests and celebrities is subject to change due to scheduling conflicts and conflicting professional or personal obligations.
NOTE: COVID-19 has changed both our geek and our real worlds. Some things may never be the same and others may not be able to be offered on our tours or will have to be altered in a new post Covid world. With that said, please understand that GNT is moving forward as if the disease is already conquered, but all tours are now subject to change.
All hotel stays, breakfast each day of the tour after arrival, five lunches during the North tour, four lunches during the South tour, dinner each day of the tour except departures (including Welcome & Farewell dinners), your own travel guide for the duration of the tour, specialized local guides where applicable, local transit costs where applicable, motor coach transfer between destinations during the tour, entrance to Hobbiton Village, Hobbiton guided tour, entrance to Waitomo Caves, Waitomo Caves guided tour, entrance to Weta Cave, Weta Cave guided tour, Weta Workshop Experience, Roxy Cinema tickets, entrance to Fernside Gardens, Stansborough Woll Mill guided tour, Wellington to Picton Ferry (North/South Combo only), Hobbit Kayak Tour (North/South Combo only), Jens Hansen Studio visit, wine tasting near Hanmer Springs, horse trekking near Geraldine, Twizel Lord of the Rings Tour, Glenorchy/Paradise Lord of the Rings Tour, and games & prizes along the way!
What's Not Included
Airfare to and from tour locations, local airport transfers, entry fees to museums not included in the program, some lunches on your own.
Estimated TourStarter Price
Single-Occupancy Upgrade: $450.00 USD
Single-Occupancy Upgrade: $450.00 USD
Single-Occupancy Upgrade: $900.00 USD
Don’t have a precious to get the double occupancy rate? Geek Nation Tours can help! Book as a double occupancy and we’ll match you up with a roommate. This way you get the best of both worlds, someone to watch your back against trolls…and more New Zealand dollars to spend!
Please Note that the above pricing is just an estimate and the final price will be determined upon settling our itinerary and coming to a collaborative decision on all details. It is our 2019 pricing however, and thus is a good estimate of the final price.
Non-Geek Spouse Argument
But think of the natural beauty! And everyone loves Hobbits!