The Nelson Tasman region beholds a vast array of beauty, from the marble karst landforms on the Takaka Hill to the picturesque waterfalls of the Aorere river, and, if you’re a Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit fan, this multi-day itinerary will take you on a tiki-tour of many of the spectacular landscapes that feature in Peter Jackson’s famous trilogies.
Start your day with a scenic drive from Nelson to Golden Bay, where the coastal highway will treat you to some of Tasman Bay’s treasures; offering stunning views of the mountainous ranges that hug the plains that lay before them, and of the tidal estuary adorned in stone art of many persuasions.
The first stop will be the Riwaka Resurgence, which although not one of Peter Jackson’s film locations, is the perfect place to begin your tiki-tour of this iconic destination. The crystal-clear springs are nestled amongst lush native bush and are fed by the limestone passages and marble cracks of the Takaka Hill. After this quick side-step, continue your journey weaving around the marble mountain on your gradual ascent to Ngarua Caves.
The entrance sits atop the Takaka Hill, and the opportunity to explore the inner workings of this extraordinary cave system is one not to be missed. After making your way through the plethora of stalagmites and stalagtites that protrude from the cavernous surroundings like shark teeth, your tour guide will have you climbing through a cave-hatch that will land you on the very same marble karst terrain that Gandalf galloped along on horseback.
Next stop on the tour is the site of Chetwood Forest, situated in the Canaan Downs Scenic Reserve. The ancient beech trees that tower above you and the marble outcrops that lay before you are a welcome reminder of the site where the Hobbits fleed from Bree and the Black Riders into the forest in Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.
After a day of your own unexpected journeys, kick back and enjoy some entertainment at The Mussel Inn. An internationally renowned live music venue, the Mussel Inn is set within a rustic cottage come wool-shed and serves up a delicious selection of comfort food, craft beer, ciders and soft drinks… what more could you ask for? Somewhere luxurious to rest your head you say? Just a short drive north will have you in your very own beachfront cottage, spread over tranquil seaside garden and a private sandy shore, the perfect place to catch some shut-eye before the adventures day two will bring.
Awakening on day two, you’ll head further north toward Cape Farewell, where you’ll ride out on horseback to discover Kaihoka Station. Situated on private land, with no-one else around, it is easy to imagine yourself arriving at the destroyed Weatherhills farmhouse, much like the company did in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
Driving back over the hill toward the Jens Hansen studio in Nelson City, you’ll get a first-hand look at the artisan craftsmanship of none other than the creator of the ‘One Ring’. Ponder over the passion, dedication and talent of the jewellers, before retreating next door to the Rutherford Hotel for a teppanyaki dinner and some five-star treatment.
The final day of your tiki-tour will have you experiencing even more of the major film sites from Peter Jackson’s trilogies, with a trifecta of helicopter landings atop Mount Olympus, Mount Owen and Salisbury Falls. As you venture into the breathtaking scenery of the Kahurangi National Park, your pilot will entertain you with tales and stories from the film shoots, and ensure your Lord of the Rings experience ends on a high.
See below for the list of operators featuring in this itinerary.