One of the main reasons we came to Queenstown during our adventures in New Zealand was to have some amazing adventurous family adventures! Queenstown is after all the adventure capital of New Zealand, situated on the Southern Island and surrounded by some absolutely breathtaking nature! After searching the Internet and the travel bible “The Lonely Planet”, we discovered Nomad Safaris in Queenstown.
Nomad Safaris is a great touring company, breathing out the adventure we were looking for. They provide jeep safaris around Queenstown, exploring the amazing scenery and going off-road. They have different tours, depending on what you like. You can follow the journey of Lord of The Rings, discover the gold digging sides, test your nerves in the Skippers canyon and so much more. We booked the Queenstown Lord of The Rings Tour, a jeep safari which would bring us into Middle Earth and with some luck, we might even find some gold…
Exploring Middle Earth with Nomad Safaris
After knowing that we would come to New Zealand, we introduced The Lord of the Rings movies to our girls. From the first moment, they were intrigued by the characters and fabulous natural settings of the movie. Today they would become part of the movie, and they were very much looking forward to that!
Thomas, our guide for the day, picked us up at our campground with his amazing Land Rover Jeep. They all have a license plate with a name of one of the characters of the Lord of The Rings movies, and we were discovering Middle Earth today with Eomers. Just riding in one of these jeeps was a great experience in itself. Our girls were smiling and laughing the whole time! And the best was yet to come!
Enjoying the beautiful views where Lord of The Rings was shot
Our first stop is after a winding road uphill from where we have an amazing view of the surrounding landscape. On our left, we can see the Remarkables. This is where Aragorn leads the fellowship to Lothlorien after the Mines of Moria. We get lots of information on where parts of the movies have been shot, how they pulled some tricks to create another effect, … After that, we head to the Kawarau Gorge where we can see the spot of the Pillars of the Kings. One of our favourite scenes in the movie. It is unbelievable to see how much they have changed in the movie using special effects and even putting different scenery together in one shot.
When we leave the Kawarau Gorge we drive to Arrowtown and then the real adventure begins. Arrowtown is a small gold town about 15k from Queensland where you can see leftovers from the Chinese miners. They have found gold up all over along the Arrow River, and even today, people look for gold. Although you can’t make a living out of it anymore. When we arrive, we head over to the Arrow River, looking for some gold of our own.
The most fun part of our tour, driving through the rocky Arrow River with our cool jeep!
This part is the most exciting as we drive through the river. The kids are having so much fun with the water coming up really high and the 4WD trying to find his path between the rocks. Absolutely the adventure we were looking for! We go higher up the hill on a small road which was used for the gold mining. It is picknick time and in no time Thomas has arranged some coffee, tea and hot chocolate with cookies for our family.
Playing our own part in Lord of The Rings
After taking some drone footage we drive back to the historic gold mining road and stop by the river. We have stopped at the spot where Arwen on her horse was chased by the black riders while she was carrying an injured Frodo. And know we can play a scene, something the kids were waiting for after seeing the clothes and swords in the back of the car. After dressing up, it’s time to put up a fight! Hanne and Yuna don’t seem to be impressed by mum or dad and hold their sword as high as possible.
Lots of fun and the kids want to hold on their cloak which is ok by Thomas. The swords, that were actually used in the movie, have to go back in the trunk of course.
We feel like the Fellowship of The Ring for just a moment…
After feeling movie stars for just a moment, it’s time to continue on the Arrow River. A bit further we stop the car again, and it is time to dig some gold in the river with our gold pan. The chances of finding any are very small of course, you would have to go much further up the river, but it is a great experience to see the process and have the feeling you might just find some! Unfortunately, we can’t find any gold and have to leave without an extra souvenir.
The girls had an exciting time trying to find gold in the Arrow River.
Our last stop is an amazing viewpoint next to the entrance of the Skippers Canyon. Again, we have an amazing view of the hills around Queensland and surrounding. What a stunning landscape! No wonder the Lord of The Rings movies were filmed here… They are the best advertising for how beautiful New Zealand is!
Our experiences with Nomad Safaris
This was absolutely a day to remember! We were hoping for some adventure, and we certainly got it. After Thomas took us back to the campground, we relaxed a bit and talked about the amazing things we saw and did during this day. It was one of the highlights of our trip to New Zealand. Nomad Safaris made sure we had a great experience and thought of all the little things such as the picnic (with hot chocolate and cake for the kids), gold panning and playing the movie scene. But the most rememberable part of the trip was definitely going off-road in our cool jeep and enjoying the breathtaking scenery! We had a great time with Nomad Safaris and hope to be back one day!
We had a great day with Nomad Safaris, enjoying all the scenery and adventures!
About The Author
Jurgen was born in 1979 in Belgium. His passions are food and travelling. Discovering the world with Heleen (his wife) and Yuna and Hanne (daughters) was one of his biggest dreams. When he’s around, you won’t be hungry.