New Zealand can be a long way to travel for most people, so why is it so many tourists make the trip and even return here to live??
Well, New Zealand is unlike many other places on Earth. It has a small population, stunning scenery and no predators! We have more sheep than people here but the 4.5 million people that are here are friendly and laid-back. People from New Zealand are known as ‘Kiwi’s’ after our beloved native flightless bird, the Kiwi. New Zealand embraces its native Maori culture as well as many other cultures from around the world due to the huge influx of tourists returning here to live; bringing with them a vast range of cultures and traditions. Its landscapes and scenery are breath-taking to say the least and the food is delicious -especially our signature coffee’s such as the 'Flat White'. After all, New Zealand is a dairy country and one of the world’s largest milk producers. The climate and land have been ideal for this multi Billion-dollar industry to flourish.
In short, our small population size and awe-inspiring scenery make New Zealand a magic place to travel and live in.
That hasn't been our experience, in fact far from it! People that accompany their partners on our tour who are not fans of the movies always enjoy the journey just as much as their fanatic partners! Its so much more than a LOTR tour, its also a great way to travel a beautiful country and make life-long friends.
"I was nervous because I'd never been on anything like this before; no roadshows, no conventions, no movie premiers and certainly no themed tours like this one was. I (naively) kind of expected the people on the tour to be all very similar and a lot like the stereotyped sci-fi or fantasy geeks. I'm very pleased to be able to report that I was proved very, very wrong." - Ben's Tour Diary
"Yet I think my personal highlight was to realize how close we all got within this short amount of time. In only four days, the group grew to be the 'Fellowship of the Tour'. And sitting in the hotel talking to everybody, realizing how much I'm going to miss all the people who stay behind, really added a great deal to the whole experience." - Tanja's Tour Diary
New Zealand’s weather is variable due to its diverse landscape. The North Island is typically warmer than the South Island due to its position relative to the equator. It can be as hot as 30˚C (86˚F) and as cold as -20˚C (-4˚ F) but these temperatures are rare!
In Summer, New Zealand has an average temperature of 20 - 25˚C (68 - 77˚F) In Autumn, it has an average temperature of 16 - 21˚C (60 - 72˚F) In Winter, it has an average temperature of 8 - 15˚C (46 - 59˚F) In Spring, it has an average temperature of 16 - 19˚C (61 - 66˚F)
In short, the weather is whatever the great Southern Ocean chooses to throw at us, and temperatures vary with your altitude. For instance, when scaling the location of Edoras we can often be surrounded by snow-capped mountains even in Summer.
The secret to moving comfortably around New Zealand is layering your clothes so you can take off or add-on according to the conditions. Should you arrive and find that you have nothing warm/cool/waterproof enough, there is an impressive array of locally-made clothes everywhere- they will be tempting you before you even leave the arrival lounge of the airport.
Your packing should include some standard items: Medication, toiletry, Jacket and good walking shoes. The types of clothing you bring will depend on the season you Tour with us: Forecast and Weather map
In most cases yes they were with the exception of Hobbiton, which has been completely rebuilt including the Green Dragon and is a permanent set! In the cases of the other locations you will find that the landscape itself evokes the drama that took place there without the set. Many of the key landmarks that identify the spots are an integral part of the landscape itself.
Here are some reactions from those on previous fellowships - "…everyone is a little nervous about walking towards the site itself which is still hidden over the brow of the hill. This is the first site we've been to, in theory the most recognisable of all of the filming locations and if this doesn't live up to expectations and it proves hard to recognise the place from the film then the whole tour will have a dark cloud looming over it."
"But, in keeping with the sunshine of the day, we're all knocked back as we come over the hill to gaze into Hobbiton itself. It's all there... Bag End, the Party tree, Bagshot row and over a dozen Hobbit holes still in the hillsides. Although there's none of the set dressing left, no gardens or frontages to the holes, there's still so much more than we were expecting." - Ben's Tour Diary.
" You need but little imagination to make it all come alive again." - Tanja's Tour Diary
And imagination is something that LOTR fans do not lack!
"Walking in there, you know exactly where you are. It's fantastic. I even took the opportunity to sit down where Bilbo and Gandalf had their smoke before the party and wrote in my journal for a minute. The experience of being there was…Well, you kinda had to be there." - Josh's Tour Diary.
"Among the most dramatic scenery in The Two Towers is the grassy mountain valley in which the Rohan capital of Edoras is built. Almost no computer graphics are used in the creation of the town…Sadly none of the buildings remain but you can make out the locations for the royal burial cairns and the path leading up to the gate. Exploring the site was a bit like doing some archaeology, having to try and locate clues to the existence of different structures and line up terrain features to the few photos and memories we all had. The hill itself was easily recognisable from every angle… Once we got to the base of the hill it's a steep hike up to the top but once you are there the adrenaline buzz is amazing as it's one of the most recognisable places we've been to. I must have used an entire roll of film in the couple of hours we were there." - Ben's Tour Diary.
We stay in 4 Star Hotels in most cities / towns and some very nice lodges and Inn's in country areas. The accommodation is comfortable, and in many cases the same accommodation that the cast and crew used. "I got Elijah's room! That's right, I spent the night in Elijah Wood's bed…For six weeks Elijah slept in the bed that I am currently in. I mean, the entire crew, well, lived here." - Josh's Tour Diary
Inaccessible to most people! Red Carpet has exclusive contracts with the owners of the properties which allow our tour groups access; in many cases the owners saw and participated in months of filming and are happy to share their memories of the film project.
"Reach today's final destination at around 5:30 p.m.: Twizel, a.k.a the Pelennor Fields. Friendly greeting by owners of farm, Simon and Priscilla, as well as cute little dog. Learn Priscilla has been an orc-extra ("I'm one of the little, multiplied dots."). Extremely hard to believe! Must have been nicest orc in middle-earth… Learn film crew spent 4 weeks on farm, working with over 300 horses, 600 extras and a big blue screen in front of hill. Don't envy Rohan-Riders that much anymore, now knowing they spent up to 10 hours a day on horseback. In armour. False beards glued to their face. Do however envy Simon and Priscilla for experience of having more than one hundred horses galloping through their backyard at 40 km/h. Awesome!" - Tanja's Tour Diary