Lord of the Rings Still Drawing Tourists to New Zealand
More than 40 tourism operators have incorporated locations for The Lord of the Rings and other New Zealand films, including The Last Samurai, Whale Rider and King Kong, into tours - and there has been little sign of numbers dropping off. In parts of the South Island, movie tourism has even continued to grow.
The activity has been revealed by German graduate student Anne Buchmann, who is studying the impact of New Zealand films on tourism for a PhD at Lincoln University.
Ms Buchmann, in Wellington yesterday to interview Rings and King Kong extras for her study In the Footsteps of the Fellowship, said she had uncovered surprising facts while interviewing more than 150 tourists, tourism operators, city council staff and film crew about film tourism.
"Everything that I found out doesn't match what academics said (would happen). People visit locations because it's personal and meaningful to them," she said.
Ms Buchmann's findings include:
* More than 150 locations were being touted to film tourists.
* A third of tourists who took scenic flights so they could see landscapes featured in The Lord of the Rings had not seen the films.
* A small number of tourists repeated tours. Ms Buchmann encountered tourists who had returned to do the same film tour for the third time. "It's very unusual behaviour."
* The largest number of film tourists in New Zealand at the same time was during the world premiere of The Return of the King in 2003, but there had been a steady flow since.
* Tourists who were hardcore Rings fans had given way to more mainstream tourists who had seen Peter Jackson's trilogy.
* Some tourists had visited remote locations and re-enacted scenes from The Lord of the Rings.
* A few felt that New Zealand had become "more real" to them because it was used to represent Middle-earth.