New Zealand Plans Lord of the Rings Tours - theage.com

A group of Kiwis has started a tourism venture to take fans of Lord Of The Rings to places in New Zealand where the trilogy was filmed.

It is understood Prime Minister Helen Clark will shortly announce government plans to cash in on the $NZ600 million ($A495 million) trilogy using agencies such as Trade New Zealand, the Film Commission and Tourism New Zealand.

And it's understood Wellington City Council still wants to brand the capital as "Middle Earth" [sic] for the week of the Australasian premiere of The Fellowship Of The Rings, which screens on December 19 in Wellington.

There is hope such proposals will revive New Zealand's tourism prospects in the wake of the world downturn since the September 11 attacks in the United States.

With about seven weeks to go before the film release, overseas media attention on New Zealand is rising with British newspaper The Independent this month featuring a two-page travel feature headlined Lord Of The Rings Country: The Complete Guide.

Written by Simon Cunliffe, deputy editor of The Press newspaper in Christchurch, it gives British fans of J.R.R. Tolkien's epic trilogy a detailed rundown of areas where the movie version was filmed.

This sort of interest has led to some Auckland travel operators and Tolkien fans forming a travel company, Red Carpet Tours, to cater solely to Rings junkies.

Red Carpet Tours chief executive Vic James said: "We want to take people from overseas and New Zealand to the sites where filming took place such as the farm in Matamata, places around Wellington and areas such as Queenstown and Methven in the South Island."


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