New Zealand Highlights
Giapo for the most fun gelato in this part of the world. Come hungry because you’ll need some extra room for their creations. The line is worth it!
It is not possible to visit the set without a guided tour. It is strongly recommended you make reservations in advance, but not required (pre Covid). Many times it is offered as a tour from Auckland, Rotorua and surrounding cities or you can book directly as well. There are also some additional experiences if you’re looking for a little more than just the standard tour.
The website also has FAQs and further information about booking. Groups are broken down into around 20 and a group leaves every 5 minutes making it a slightly crowded experience.
International Hobbit Day occurs every year on September 22 (Frodo and Bilbo’s birthday). While it can be celebrated around the world, Hobbiton is the place to be. For those massive LotR fans this is a CAN’T MISS life experience. You get the regular tour of Hobbiton (but with much fewer people) as well as an entire party in Hobbiton complete with music, dancing, unlimited food and drinks, games and a costume contest. THAT’S RIGHT. There is nothing that makes Middle Earth come to life more than being surrounded by hobbits, dwarves, wizards and elves. Tickets cost a pretty penny but are worth every single cent.
Rainforest meets cliffs meets water meets wildlife… it has it all.
Consistently rated one of the greatest tracks in the world the Milford Track is a must-do but also takes a little planning ahead.
New Zealand Department of Conservation website – Stay up to date on the latest news about the track
Rotorua & Taupo
s a die hard Lord of the Rings fan, it was epic just being in the presence of this mountain. I visited in September which meant there was still a fair bit of snow and required both crampons and a guide. Mount Ngauruhoe is the actual Mount Doom and the Tongariro Crossing is the trek you do.
Climbing Mount Doom: Mount Ngauruhoe and Tongariro Crossing
- Open all year but it is required to go with a guide during the colder months for safety reasons
- Mount Ngauruhoe is actually a separate detour hike you can do during the Tongariro crossing. This can also sometimes be closed due to weather conditions in the snowier months
- The peak of Mount Ngauruhoe is sacred Maori land and while it isn’t forbidden to summit, it is considered disrespectful to the Maori people
- A Guide to the Tongariro Crossing and Climbing Mount Doom
- Hiking up Middle-earth’s Mount Doom
- Pro tip, head to the Redwoods right before dusk so you can see it during the day and at night
Warning: I would like to point out that I feel through all of the research I did on Hot Water Beach I was not given realistic expectations. We planned around the tide but there were only several small stretches of beaches where the hot water was present and the rest of us suckers who didn’t find the right spot just made sand castles and the largest hole possible with the shovel we paid $5 for. It was still a nice day and a fun experience, but we left feeling a bit cheated.
This guide may help you find it more successfully. I would also recommend bringing a shovel. It does actually make a world of difference. Don’t rent them in the parking lot though as they’ll cost at least $10 per shovel. Hot Waves Cafe was renting for $5 (plus a deposit) back when we were there in 2018.
The Coromandel Food Trail Guide – An extensive guide on eating all over the peninsula