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Road to Lake Marova

Sunnyvale, CA
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220 posts
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Road to Lake Marova

My sons and especially my husband are major LOTR fans and would like to have some days during our NZ trip dedicated to movie sites. We're planning on doing a few tours (Hobbiton of course), but I'm also trying to add little side-trips in the driving (that don't involved a schedule or $$$) to movie sites. One that I saw in the guidebook was Lake Marova - it said that it's a 40km drive off the road that goes from Te Anau to Queenstown that we could easily do.

However, it said that the road is unsealed so I was wondering how bad the road is, how long it would take us to get there, do you need a 4WD and would major rental car companies allow us to go there? Finally, is it worth the side trip - we will already have seen the Fjordland, Lake Wanaka, glaciers and similar.

Dunedin, New Zealand
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1. Re: Road to Lake Marova

Helps when you spell the lake correctly, otherwise people might think you are using Hobbit names! There is a regular gravel road in to Lake Mavora, as far as the DOC campground (I'd expect that if the Hobbit crew needed access there, it has probably been upgraded since I was there): after that, you either walk or take a 4WD, but you shouldn't need a 4WD to get to the campground. NZ still has lots of gravel roads and they're drivable in normal cars - very few car rental places prevent driving on all gravel roads, most only prohibit specific roads.

As for whether its worth it, it isn't like Wanaka in that it is more enclosed and doesn't have a tourist resort lining its edges. Only going in and looking will tell whether you like the experience or not.

New Zealand
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for South Island
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2. Re: Road to Lake Marova

As Barry said, you don't need a 4WD to get to the campsites. The last time I was at Mavora the road was badly corrogated so the drive seemed endless. But usually the road is fine.

The lake is surrounded by low terrain so it isn't an overly pretty setting, however there are some great trails through the native bush, with some interesting swing bridges.

The Mavora Lakes don't have a high number of visitors so you will be amongst the select few if you do go.

Enjoy :)

Sunnyvale, CA
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220 posts
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3. Re: Road to Lake Marova

Thank you both for your replies - as usual the TA destination experts have great advice....and yes, I'll make sure to spell it correctly next time.

It's hard trying to balance all the amazing place NZ has to offer with the bucket list of my LOTR fans (i.e. as many movie sites as possible).

One more question - if we've already gone on the Doubtfull Sound cruise, how much more will we get if we also go on the Luxmore jetboat (other than someone pointing out what areas were used in the LOTR movies)?

Thanks again for all the great suggestions!!

New Zealand
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for South Island
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4. Re: Road to Lake Marova

I haven't done the Luxmore Jet, but believe it goes up-river?

On the Doubtful trip you cross Lake Manapouri - so the two trips cover entirely different locations.

I think one of the most stunning jet boat rides is Dart River Jets - breathtaking scenery and yes, it is all LOTR locations.

Dunedin, New Zealand
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5. Re: Road to Lake Marova

Plus, well, a jetboat might give a bit of a cheap thrill that you won't get on the cruise.

Sunnyvale, CA
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6. Re: Road to Lake Marova

We are definitely doing the Dar River jet - that was one of the first things everyone agreed should be on our "must do no matter what" list.

The Luxmore jet boat goes down the river from Lake Te Anau to Lake Manapouri, and goes in the lake a little bit. From what I can see from the satellite photos (how did people plan trips before the internet,) it seems that the river goes through a forest. I was just wondering if it was worth doing on the way back from Te Anau, combined with a drive to Lake Mavora or if it was better to make our ways to Queenstown and do a different hike in the Queenstown/Wanaka area area - any suggestions?

Is the Hooker Valley glacier hike doable that time of year (winter) and how difficult is it? How about the Wanaka lake cruise/hike?

New Zealand
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7. Re: Road to Lake Marova

Hooker Valley and Mou Waho Island are both possible when weather and track conditions allow - impossible to say today what it will be like in July. Wanaka is relatively low elevation so it isn't often tracks are snow covered there - but it dioes happen.

if you are already doing Dart River I would skip the jet boating at te Anau, but it is entirely up to you.

As you have discovered, too many possibilities - let us know what you eventaully decide and how it all goes :)

8. Re: Road to Lake Marova

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