5 Minutes with Sarah McLeod (Rosie Cotton)

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sarah mcleod or rosie cotton red carpet tours

Sarah, to the fans, your character was a very special person. How did you view Rosie and what she represented to Sam and the story?

I still think Rosie is just lovely. The love that Sam has for her all the way through his struggles is so sweet and sad when he doesn’t know if he’s going to ever get back to her.

What did you most enjoy about your role in Lord of the Rings?

There was a really great sense of family and fun on set. The boys joking around. The happiness of Hobbiton. The beautiful costumes. The wonderful sets with real flowers and carrots growing in the gardens.

What was it like working with the hobbits and your Samwise?

sarah mcleod (rosie cotton) Lord of the rings LOTR tours

They were all so friendly and funny. The great thing about working with Sean was that he had his family with him so on a few occasions we all hung out together. I really do think that that is part of what makes the last scene in the final movie so poignant. He was there with his daughter playing Elanor and I was there with my daughter playing baby Frodo.

How did this film role affect your life post Rings?

I still get fan mail! It will always be a proud memory to have been involved in such an iconic movie trilogy. And not just because the films are so well known but also because it was just such a lovely experience working on them. It surprises me that people still recognise me from the films – having had four children and growing my own apples and feijoas must be keeping me well connected to my Rosie Cotton character. ;)

What's the most-asked question you get from fans?

Can I sign their photo. ;) I also get asked lots of questions about the intricacies of the embroidery on my costumes. Oh, and also whether it was hard to dance in Hobbit feet.

What's your favourite must-see place in New Zealand?

We are so lucky to live here! So many beautiful places to see. Given that it’s autumn, Arrowtown would be a must. But personally my connection is with the beaches – especially Whangamata where I grew up and the magical Whatipu which I love.

Sarah Mcleod Lord of the rings

5 Minutes with Mark Hadlow (Dori)

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A huge thank you to Dori for being part of the Red Carpet Tours family! He shared a few moments and memories with us.

Biggest Challenge

How was Dori going to take shape. Prosthetics, makeup, costume and weapons essentially were going to determine his look, but maintaining the character for nearly two years in production was going to be a major part of the challenge. I think what helped was the brothers back-story. Dori, Nori and Ori were a pretty close family! Sure, there were squabbles and dislikes but ultimately they had each other's backs. Blood is thicker than water.

Best Locations

It's so hard to choose one, because New Zealand is so amazing to travel anywhere. I think all of the locations were outstanding. Pelorus river was exciting, going down it in barrels and seeing the grandeur of Paradise valley in Queenstown. There was something special about every location. Just like the movies - we were on an adventure, and the journey within the journey was traveling to the locations.

Favourite Scene?

There were a number of them but probably the best was the barrels in the water race! A big water ride was built to shoot the close-up scenes in Upper Hutt in Wellington. It was like a Disney ride and we felt like kids in an amusement park. Two huge Diesel engines propelled water round this huge oval water channel the size of a football field and we got in barrels and were propelled around it we just had fun. It was brilliant, crazy and amazing. 

What's Next?

I'm trying to get a film a mate has written up and running, called SWANSONG. It's a cop serial-killer movie, and the script is a page-turner. Stef Harris is the writer/director, I'm playing a cop and Jed Brophy is playing the serial killer. It's compelling. We are working pretty hard at getting some finance together but the process is pretty slow. Takes forever to bankroll but we believe firmly in the project and will keep sourcing interest. I have a play later in the year for ATC and I've been cast in a film happening mid-year. My Navy work will pick up again with a new project, I hope, and my one-man-show MAMIL (Middle aged Man in Lycra) hopefully may get another couple of seasons. All in all there's a bit on the horizon!

Working with Red Carpet Tours

I am really enjoying meeting the fans on the Red Carpet Tours. I enjoy reliving the stories and the pictures as much as they do! Re-telling the excitement of days on set and the experience keeps it fresh in my ageing mind. I look forward to meeting more!

Favourite Lines

Probably the ones addressed to The Wizard himself, but there were a few in all the films so all of them I guess. Family squabbles with the brothers were good ones.

Lines Spoken to Ori:

  • "Just try it you might like it"
  • "Would you like a cup of camomile tea Mr Gandalf?"
  • "It's got a fruity bouquet"
  • "Mr Gandalf can't you do something about this deluge?"

Daniel Reeve Reflections - Artists Sketching and Photography Tour 2016

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What was your favourite part of the Artists Tour?

Impossible question! I always love going to Hobbiton, and I’d never had the evening banquet there before, so that was really nice. Trollshaws was also a new experience – loved it! Meeting Ian Hayman – what a character! All the locations are fantastic. I also loved walking on the Routeburn Track on Day 14. But perhaps the favourite part was seeing the artists flourish as they learned new skills and techniques, and so many people trying calligraphy and loving it. And the whole group bonding – it really is a fellowship by the time the tour is done.

Oh, and the earthquake was pretty impressive too!

How many years have you been working with Red Carpet Tours and how did you get involved?

I did my first presentations with Red Carpet Tours in 2004, after a chance meeting at an LOTR-related event. I’ve done the presentations ever since, apart from 2-3 years off while making The Hobbit. It has been a fascinating journey, and every group is unique – but invariably wonderful.

What's next for you in your incredible art world?

I’ve been asked to do a solo exhibition at the Kapiti Gallery this February-March, so I’m busy preparing for that. Oh, and I’ve just made new signage for Hobbiton – that’s a nice on-going relationship. There’s the possibility of working on Mortal Engines, but I won’t know that for a while - and if it happens, I won’t be able to tell you!

What is your top advice for fantasy artists and photographers?

Work on subjects for which you have a passion, as this will bring out your best. Think about composition. Use light for maximum advantage – it’s all about the light.

What is your favourite quote from Lotr or Hobbit trilogies?

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.


The Road goes ever on and on Down from the door where it began.

Now far ahead the Road has gone, and I must follow, if I can.

Pursuing it with weary feet, Until it joins some larger way, Where many paths and errands meet.

And wither then? I cannot say.  


Not all those who wander are lost.

What's your best piece of advice for budding calligraphers?

Don’t get so good that you steal my job!

No, seriously, try ALL aspects of lettering – there are so many more facets to calligraphy than what I get time to demonstrate for Red Carpet folk. Do all the styles, use all the different tools, go really big and really small, invent alphabets, create a font – become multi-talented. Each part reinforces all the others.

And probably more than anything, SHOW your work, and learn from other people’s work.

Art from the tour


Artists Sketching and Photography Tour 2016

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Our 2017 Artists Sketching and Photography Tour was a great success, thank you to all of our friends who joined the fellowship, and Daniel Reeve for his immense talent and mentorship!

A Very Special Tour

This 2017 November tour was a chance for artists and photographers to be mentored by our good friend and artist Daniel Reeve - known for his trademark work on The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit films. 

We were lucky to have daily photography tips, evening sketching and watercolour workshops, calligraphy workshops and watercolour demonstrations from Daniel! People could do as much or as little as they wanted to - the evening seasons were low key and hugely creative.

Most Memorable Moments

I loved watching all the creative and enthusiastic members of the group, thriving on all the new knowledge and skills they were learning. Many of them went home to practice and develop their newfound talents.

Favourite Activity

Everyone was really excited for the calligraphy lessons, getting to write in Elvish and develop their own styles!

Most Improved

Guest most improved under Daniel's mentorship: Lesley Humphries, she impressed even Daniel with her natural calligraphy skills. She thrilled and surprised herself!

Tour Images



Winter in New Zealand

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Beautiful pristine lakes, big blue skies and long white clouds envelope you ~ Aoteroa.New Zealand

Winter in New Zealand is an adventure worthy of the grandest fireside tale! You may see rainfall, with sparkling water falling over the sweeping landscapes, but a true adventure isn’t always sunshine. See frosty snow-capped peaks in our jewel of the South Island, and refreshingly crisp mornings in the endlessly green North Island. Our winter season usually has fewer tourists, so you can enjoy the uncrowded attractions and pathways more exclusively. 

A Red Carpet Winter Tour

You can look forward to cool crisp mornings and beautiful clean air, with hearty food fit for any Hobbit.

The Hobbit holes look warmly inviting and occasionally there may be a slight frost on the Party Field. The crackling open fire in the Green Dragon will warm you up, along with a pint made especially for Hobbiton by the Good George brewery and a lovely buffet lunch with the fellowship.

Pickles, Hobbiton's resident cat LOTR

Pickles, Hobbiton's resident cat.

Mountains Gandalf - LOTR

"Mountains Gandalf, I want to see mountains again."

We climb (short)  mountains, take helicopter tours over mountains and fly our flag from mountains. Have comfortable footwear, dress in layers, including a warm coat, hat and gloves.

Why not treat yourself to  warm merino wool hat and gloves while you're in New Zealand ? We grow quality wool in the Shire!


Mount Cook New Zealand

Beautiful pristine lakes, big blue skies and long white clouds envelop you ~ Aotearoa.

Every season in Middle Earth is special in its own unique way. Come and join us this winter for an adventure you will never forget.

Lord of The Rings Tour

Packing List

LAYERS! New Zealand is famous for “four seasons in one day” and our North and South Islands have different climates. Packing smart layers will help you stay comfortable (and dry) all day during your tours.

  • Long pants
  • Closed comfortable walking shoes
  • Breathable base layers – the weather can turn hot and sunny in moments
  • Insulating mid-layer (fleece, sweater, etc)
  • Waterproof/windproof jacket – this is essential
  • Sunscreen (yes, we have bright sunny days in winter!)
  • Warm hat
  • Sunglasses

5 Reasons to Visit Middle-earth

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One does not simply walk into Middle-earth. “Home is behind, the world ahead, and there are many paths to tread."  We take you to the iconic film locations of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, New Zealand brings the magic alive. Immerse yourself in moments from the films, surrounded by spectacular scenery and the charming local culture. There are many reasons to visit Middle-earth - these are just a few!


Beware the trolls...unless you have a trusty Fellowship with you! Piopio became home to the location for Staddle Farm and Trollshaw Forest. The farmland is backed by the dramatic sheer cliffs of the Mangaotaki Rocks, looking above the valley, carved into fantastic formations over millions of years of weathering.

A forest walk takes you into the Trollshaw Forest where Radagast first meets up with the fellowship. It's easy to imagine you can hear the Wargs howl in the distance, readying for an attack. Discover the place where Bilbo meets his famed blade Sting! Apart from the fascination with it being the film's location, you'll appreciate the beauty and wildness of the site itself. The forest is primaeval with looming tree ferns and strangely shaped limestone boulders.


Step inside the Shire with a visit to peaceful Hobbiton, the peaceful region of Middle-earth where Bilbo Baggins lived and the quest of the ring began. Set amid rolling emerald-green hills dotted with white sheep, this location transports you completely into the world of the two film trilogies. Wander the paths past the Hobbit dwellings, taking in the culture and reliving heartwarming moments. Stop at the Green Dragon Inn for a refreshing drink and second-breakfast, elevensies or afternoon tea.

This can't-miss location is a truly magical experience for every Fellowship visiting Middle-earth.


Stunning Lake Pukaki was chosen as the location for Laketown in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Glacial lakes feed into Lake Pukaki giving the water its vibrant blue colour. The lake is also a favourite walking and cycling spot, while the snowcapped Mt Cook overlooking the lake is busy with skiers during the winter months.

A nearby farm at Lake Tekapo was used in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey to portray epic scenic shots, the 'Warg Chase' and approach to Rivendell. The property was also used for the forest slopes of Misty Mountains.


Twizel lies in the heart of the McKenzie Basin, a vast alpine basin used extensively for scenes involving the Rohan plains. Twizel is also a wonderful place to spend some time studying the stars with some of the darkest skies you can find. You'll be amazed by the thousands of stars that can be seen in this Southern Hemisphere sky thanks to the clear air and lack of light pollution in this region.  The epic Battle of the Pelennor Fields was filmed in this area.

The Battle of the Pelennor Fields was a battle for the city of Minas Tirith, and ultimately for Gondor, during the War of the Ring. It was the greatest battle of the War of the Ring, and indeed the largest of the entire Third Age. Major casualties resulted from this battle - including the deaths of King Théoden and the Witch-king of Angma by the blade of the brave Shieldmaiden of Rohan, Eowyn.

Weta Workshop

Wellington is in many ways the heart of the movie fan's experience, being the home to the Weta Workshop, Weta Cave, Weta Digital, Stone Street Studios and Park Road Post Production. Named after a native New Zealand species of ancient insect and a Sir Peter Jackson anagram. Weta has been responsible for the remarkable digital and special effects, costuming and weaponry that have helped bring The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit to life.

The Weta group is made up of a huge number of incredibly talented artists who are responsible for all the Special effects, Motion Capture, costuming and weaponry, its shop front, the Weta Cave and Weta Digital where the digital visual effects wizards are based, the Stone Street Studios and Park Road Post Production. During the production of The Lord of the Rings, the artists turned out thousands of items including 1200 suits of armour and 10,000 arrows among many others. When traveling with Red Carpet Tours, you'll get a taste of these props and the people who made them and their stories on our action-packed Weta Day.


Gandalf:  "You’ll have a tale or two to tell when you come back"

Bilbo:  "You can promise that I’ll come back?”

Gandalf:  "No. And if you do, you will not be the same"  

J.R.R Tolkien Quotes





Do you know where was Lord Of The Rings filmed?

Meet Hobbit Actor John Callen

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John has worked for 40 years as a professional actor, director and writer in theatre, radio, film and television. He has performed in or directed more than 100 stage productions and more than two dozen television series, and narrated close to 150 documentaries, including National Geographic, Discovery Channel and Animal Planet.

His experience as actor or director has covered everything from the absurd to the classical, including roles as Shylock and Polonius. He relished his recent experience playing the dwarf Oin in the core cast of Peter Jackson's The Hobbit.

We're excited to announce that John will be giving a special presentation at the welcome dinner for our March Highlights Tour!

Can you tell us about your character, Oin, from the Hobbit?

Oin is sometimes considered curmudgeonly but much of that is because he is hard of hearing. His brother Gloin is far more grumpy. As a close relative of Thorin Oakenshield he feels duty bound to be a part of the great adventure. He and Gloin put money into the venture. Oin is a healer and sees himself as “medic” on the journey. He is not afraid of a good fight though somewhat older than most of the others.

What was it like having to wear prosthetics, did you have to adjust your acting style?

An actor will change his or her acting style according the production in which they are performing. Oin was might “lighter” to play than, say Macbeth, for instance. The prosthetics were a new item of make-up for me, though I did once have a prosthetic nose for the role of Shylock. However, these were something else. I sweat a lot naturally but we all sweated very much.

What was the costume and weaponry like to wear and wield?

The costume was hot, very hot. With the prosthetic I was drinking water all day and hardly ever had to visit the loo … just as well for doing so with the many layers of costume, and the fat suit, made a toilet break a real mission. My costume weighed up to 25/28 kilograms with one day, carrying blankets and extra cloaks and additional travel bags, in the rain, my stuntman, the brilliant Ike Hamon, determined we were carrying 53 kilograms. (My wife weighs 55kg). The weapons were brilliant. I had a long fighting staff with a pointy ends and a leather strap. Since my arthritis prevented me from wearing the prosthetic hands I used woollen gloves. At one point Peter Jackson asked me to rush at the camera as if I was going to kill a goblin or orc beneath the camera. I rushed in, swung the staff over my head and brought it down with such force I smashed in on the concrete floor of the studio.

Do you have a highlight from the Hobbit trilogy?

It may sound corny but it really was meeting the team and developing a great relationship them all. As far as shooting was concerned the Pelorous River in the barrels will live forever with me.

The bond between the dwarves was obvious, have you kept in touch with them?

I had worked with all the Kiwi actors (directed Dean O’Gorman on Shortland Street when he was about 17 or 18) except Stephen Hunter. For me it was a treat to be alongside the other Kiwis and then we met the Irish, the British, the Scottish etc and we all blended brilliantly. I keep in touch with some of them on a regular basis but most of them from time to time. Only one, Dean, lives in Auckland. We did a voiceover together recently. Mark has become a family friend, and Peter I’ve known forever


Contact us for more information and to book the March Highlights Tour.

Q&A with Artist Daniel Reeve

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Fantasy Calligraphy and Cartography

It’s all in the details. To craft the perfect fantasy world, impeccable attention to the smallest detail is what makes the story come alive. These elements are the touch, feel, and cultural history of the characters and lore. In some cases it’s the maps, setting the scene and scope of vast planets or planes.

Meet the man behind some of the most subtly impactful pieces of the fantasy film genre. Daniel Reeve is a freelance artist from New Zealand, best-known for the calligraphy and cartography of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films. His intricate work is also featured in the films Van Helsing, King Kong, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Dead Letters, The Warrior's Way, Underworld 3, Kingdom Come, Spartacus, Tintin and The Hobbit.  He has also worked on merchandise for The Pirates of the Caribbean and Prince Caspian.

We’re lucky to have Daniel as an associate of Red Carpet Tours, and he will be part of a special upcoming tour as our “Artist in Residence.”

5 Minutes with Daniel Reeve

Q: Daniel how did you get your start on the Lord of the Rings films as the official calligrapher?

A: I heard they were making a movie of my favourite book, so I created some calligraphy and sent it in to them. I asked if they didn't already have a 100 guys that could write in Elvish, would they consider me? My phone rang very quickly, that's the one thing they hadn't thought of in all the huge amount of pre-planning.

Q: Do you have any favourite pieces of work?

A: Every piece has its own merits, I enjoy creating the maps and the individual cartouches / borders for each one. I enjoy working on each piece of artwork and seeing it to completion.

Q: Have you been busy since the Hobbit films have finished?

A: Yes, it hasn't really stopped for me. I am still doing lots of projects to do with the films, DVDs and merchandise. I also have monthly presentations with the Red Carpet Tours fellowships here in Wellington and will be mentoring a special Artists Sketching and Photography Tour with Red Carpet Tours. I am really looking forward to this special tour, 7th - 20th November 2016. I hope to see many familiar faces returning for this Tour.

July 2015 News - New Tours Announced!

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Kia Ora from Middle-earth, New Zealand.

We are just back from Melbourne Comic Con, what a great event.

It was great to meet new people and to catch up with past fellowships.

Don't forget the Comic Con special folks when booking over the next 2 weeks for those we met in Melbourne.

Thank you to Billy Boyd and David Wenham for your kind words, photos and autographs. It was lovely to meet you again.

Come and see us in New Zealand !


New tours we would like to share with you!

Artists Sketching and Photography Tour with Lord of the Rings and Hobbit Calligrapher and Map Maker Daniel Reeve as your mentor.

This special tour is scheduled for 7th - 20th November 2016 only and numbers are limited.

Travel Middle-earth with Daniel and enjoy daily sketching, photography and water colour painting of the magnificent scenery and film locations from both trilogies.

Highlights / Reunion Tours

These special Itineraries are well suited for those that have toured with us before and want an expanded experience from their previous tour and also those that want to have the Te Anau and Doubtful Sound experience included.

These special 14 day LOTR tours are scheduled for 29th February - 14th March and 5th - 19th December 2016.

Come on Fellowships, get your groups together for this one !


Keep in touch and have a great July!