Sample Itinerary Four

7 days from Wellington - Christchurch

This vacation starts in Wellington, home of The Hobbit Trilogy Director Sir Peter Jackson’s Weta Workshop. Taking you across the Cook Strait and experience filming locations of The Hobbit Trilogy in the sunny region of Nelson. continuing to the stunning food and wine region of Marlborough and stopping in the marine wildlife mecca of Kaikoura en route to Christchurch.

Day 1: Wellington

Arrive in New Zealand’s capital city Wellington, also known as New Zealand’s ‘Capital of Cool’. Spend the day exploring this compact, yet exciting city. Wellington is home to an ever expanding film industry with many Middle-earth experiences on offer. After a day of sightseeing and exploring recharge at one of Wellington’s hip cafés, restaurants and bars.

If you are arriving by air into Wellington, keep an eye out for Gollum, Gandalf and two giant eagles in Wellington Airport’s main terminal building.

Recommended activities

  • Ride the Wellington Cable Car and enjoy magical city views

  • Go on a film tour of Wellington

  • Visit the Carter Observatory and learn about the night sky in the Southern Hemisphere

  • Stroll along Wellington’s waterfront and scenic Oriental Bay

  • Take a walking food tour with Zest Food Tours
  • Visit the Weta Cave, a mini museum featuring movie props, collectables from Weta Workshop

  • Visit Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

  • Visit Zealandia: The Karori Sanctuary Experience

  • Watch a movie at The Embassy Theatre, the venue of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King world premieres.

Day 2: Wellington - Nelson

Head out of Wellington by ferry and enjoy a scenic cruise across the Cook Strait through the picturesque Marlborough Sounds to Picton. The journey takes approximately 3 to 3.5 hours and seals and dolphins can often be spotted in the Marlborough Sounds.

Arrive in the seaside town to Picton bustling with cafes, museums and seaside walks. Nelson is 1 hour 40 minutes’ drive from Picton.

Alternatively fly from Wellington to Nelson, approximately 40 minutes.

Nelson is surrounded by three national parks each with their own distinct landscapes, there are many outdoor activities on offer including hiking, fly fishing, biking and kayaking. Unwind with a glass of craft beer, from one of the many craft beer breweries, in New Zealand’s sunniest region.

Nelson was the backdrop for several locations in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The exact locations were filmed on private property, but visitors can get a good feel for these locations with a horse trek through Golden Bay.

Day 3: Nelson

Spend the day exploring Nelson or take a day trip to one of the surrounding regions.

Recommended activities

  • Explore Chetswood Forest at Canaan Downs

  • Relax with a glass or two of Middle-earth wine

  • Take a helicopter ride over Kahurangi National Park and take in the views of Mt Owen (Dimrill Dale) or Mt Olympus (South of Rivendell)

  • Take a day trip to Farewell Spit

Day 4: Nelson - Blenheim

In the morning journey from Nelson to Blenheim, approximately 1 hour 30 minutes. Spend the rest of the day exploring Blenheim and the Marlborough region.

Marlborough is regarded as one of New Zealand’s top food and wine destinations. It is well known for its abundance of fresh seafood and top class wineries, including award winning producers of Sauvignon Blanc.

Blenheim is Marlborough’s main centre, it is easy to explore on foot and features a bustling main street, historic landmarks and beautiful gardens.

"Food and wine is incredible. A few of us – me, Jimmy Nesbitt, Aidan Turner, Dean O’Gorman and some other friends – we all hired a house one weekend in the Marlborough region, and we went wine tasting on our bikes…it was absolutely glorious." Luke Evans – (Bard)

The Pelorus River in Marlborough was a filming location for The Hobbit:The Desolation of Smaug.

Recommended activities

  • Visit Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre, featuring rare aircraft, memorabilia and displays created by Weta Workshop

  • Explore the Pelorus River with a riverside walk or guided kayak tour

  • Experience Maori culture with a Maori Experience tour
  • Go on a dolphin watching tour or get up close and personal with a dolphin swimming experience

  • Enjoy the best of Marlborough seafood with The Greenshell Mussel Cruise

  • Sample a glass of award winning Sauvignon Blanc at one of Marlborough’s top class wineries

Day 5: Blenheim to Kaikoura

In the morning drive 1 hour 30 minutes from Blenheim to Kaikoura.

Alternatively sit back and enjoy the scenery on the Coastal Pacific train, the journey takes approximately 2 hours departing early afternoon (this service is seasonal).

Kaikoura – where the mountains meet the sea – is known as New Zealand’s whale-watching mecca, visitors can get up close with Giant Sperm Whales, Humbacks, Pilot Whales and Orcas. Fresh seafood is in abundance in Kaikoura, sample delicious crayfish from a roadside stall.

Recommended activities

  • Go on a whale-watching cruise or get a bird’s eye view of these gentle giants with a scenic flight

  • Experience a dolphin encounter cruise
  • Hike the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway – three hours return to visit a seal colony, limestone formations and a seabird colony

  • Go swimming with playful New Zealand fur seals

Day 6: Kaikoura - Christchurch

Travel from Kaikoura to Christchurch, the drive takes approximately 2 hours 15 minutes.

Alternatively take a relaxing train journey on the Coastal Pacific. The train ride takes approximately 3 hours, departing mid-afternoon (this is a seasonal service).

Vibrant and every-changing, Christchurch is New Zealand’s second-largest city and is affectionately known as ‘The Garden City’. Christchurch is framed by the Pacific Ocean and the Southern Alps, offering visitors a wide variety of attractions and activities.

Recommended activities

  • For stunning views head up the Christchurch Gondola

  • Ride on the historic Christchurch Tram

  • Visit the International Antarctic Centre

  • Go punting on the Avon River
  • Take in local history at the beautiful heritage building of the Canterbury Museum

  • Take an inner city coach tour from the Museum to look at the rebuild after the Canterbury Earthquakes in 2010-2011

Day 7: Christchurch

Experience more of what Christchurch has to offer or fly home from this international gateway.

"Adventure is out there!" -Ellie and Carl