Start your tour with us in Auckland where we pick you up at your hotel, at the airport or at your preferred location to start our journey to the Waitomo Caves. We suggest pick-up at 9am but are happy to fit in with your requirements.
On the 2 ½ hour drive south, we follow the mighty Waikato River through the rich, rolling farmland of the Waikato region and the King Country. We pass through a string of small, historic river towns, including Ngaruawahia, site of Turangawaewae Marae (traditional Maori meeting place) and seat of Aotearoa’s (New Zealand's) Maori King. Along the way, we pass by the impressive volcano Mount Pirongia as we near the famous Waitomo Caves.
Waitomo is an amazing natural wonderland. Explore the Kiwi House in Otorohanga, where you can see the Kiwi as well as many of our native New Zealand flora and fauna. When we arrive at the famous Waitomo Glowworm Caves, you can experience a 45 minute tour of the Waitomo Glowworm Caves.
Alternatively, you can experience a 3 hour tour which includes a spectacular Glowworm display and gently floating through a display of Glowworms and also another cave which showcases beautiful stalactites and stalagmites. Lastly, you can also experience the thrill of cave tubing (also called black water rafting), a more adventurous caving option.
Spend the night in or near Waitomo.
After a short drive to Piopio just south of Waitomo Caves, you have the option to visit the “Hairy Feet” Scenic Film location where about 22 minutes (!) of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” was filmed.
You can simulate movie scenes, step in Gandalf’s footprints and even hold Bilbo’s sword! On the tour you will also see towering limestone cliffs, massive rock formations and a primeval forest on the farm that was chosen as the location for Staddle Farm and Trollshaw Forest from “The Hobbit - an Unexpected Journey”.
Arrive at Tongariro National Park where much of the latter part of Frodo’s and Bilbo’s long journey was filmed for “The Lord of the Rings”. On and around the rocky slopes of this active volcanic area, see the place that was used as the home of the Dark Lord Sauron.
Beautiful Mt Ngauruhoe was transformed into Mt Doom, where you have the option to book a scenic flight or helicopter flight to look into the crater of Mt Ngauruhoe (2291m), which featured as Mt Doom in “The Lord of the Rings”. You can, as another option the next day, walk the famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing. This walk is reputed to be one of the world’s finest one day walks.
You have the option to spend the night at the Chateau Tongariro Hotel which is situated at the foot of Mt Ruapehu and is one of the most iconic hotels in New Zealand. The “Lord of the Rings” team also stayed there for several weeks during filming.
We can also include a trout fishing experience in various locations at or around Lake Taupo, which has the reputation to be one of the world’s best Trout fishing locations. If you choose to go trout fishing, you can also spend the night in beautiful Turangi, a small town on the Tongariro River, instead of beside Mount Ruapehu.
On the way to Rotorua we stop at a spectacular viewpoint of Huka Falls on New Zealand’s longest river, the mighty Waikato River, which starts as an outflow from Lake Taupo.
Marvel at the impressive Aratiatia Rapids, an amazing spectacle when a lock in the Waikato River is lifted and the river is allowed to roar through at amazing force and speed a few times per day. The Aratiatia Rapids were also used in one of the most spectacular scenes in the latest “The Hobbit” movies.
We then head north towards Rotorua across the central volcanic plateau. The famous region is home to several of New Zealand’s most impressive thermal parks and we suggest visiting at least one of Wai-o-Tapu, Orakei Korako or Waimangu Volcanic Valley. Here you can experience the full might and majesty of this unique and spectacular volcanic landscape, which Rotorua and Taupo are so famous for.
We continue on to Rotorua itself, where we catch our first glimpses of the shimmering blue lake with bush-clad Mokoia Island at its centre.
After settling into your accommodation at our specially chosen hotel (we have a range of hotel and accommodation options for you, depending on your preferences and budget), in the evening we highly recommend a unique Maori cultural experience in Rotorua. Here you can enjoy a traditional Kai Maori (Maori food) cooked in a Hangi (earth oven) and enjoy a performance of song and dance in a traditional Maori village setting, including the Haka, the Maori war dance made famous by our national Rugby Team, the “All Blacks”.
Alternatively, our hotel is perfectly placed close to a range of Rotorua’s finest attractions, offering you the opportunity to explore more of Rotorua on foot at your leisure.
As part of your Private Tour with us, we can show you (all part of our tour):
We can also arrange extra tour options (at your cost) to cater for your particular preferences and abilities. They include:
On our way back to Auckland, we can visit the Hobbiton Movie Set, which shot to stardom as “Hobbiton” in Director Peter Jackson’s iconic films “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit”. Please also see our Auckland to Hobbiton Movie Set Private Luxury Tour as a 1-day option from Auckland. Starts in Auckland/ Ends in Auckland. Drop-off in other locations such as Rotorua or Taupo also possible - please just ask!
We return you to your Auckland accommodation, cruise ship, airport or other location in the evening to suit your further travel plans, usually at about 5 to 6pm.