Motorhome Rental New Zealand - Narnia

Middle-earth fans keep New Zealand buzzing

New Zealand, home of middle earth, is about to hit the silver screen again as Narnia.

Filming is underway in the Disney-Walden Media epic fantasy, ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe’ in Auckland and throughout the South Island, with the film’s release in December 2005. All going well, it could be the first in a five movie series, all based on the C S Lewis chronicles.


The film will feature New Zealand scenery strongly according to Kiwi director Andrew Adamson. ‘Like Lord of the Rings, it's a very location-based movie, this world of Narnia, so it offers the same opportunities for the government and tourism.’


New Zealand is still reaping the benefits from ‘The Lord of The Rings’ trilogy and according to Helen Jansen, business development manager of Nomad Safaris which takes 4WD tours to filming locations near Queenstown, there’s no sign of it waning.


‘Our business has grown 400 per cent and it’s still rising. The interest is massive and we haven’t reached our peak yet. I would be very surprised if we see an end to this for years to come and even if it slows down, people will always want to see the filming locations.’


Nomad is just one of many tourism businesses still expanding off the back of the film. Just down the road, Dart River Safaris say their jetboating business has flourished by 40 percent following the release of ‘The Lord of The Rings’ tour and has maintained that for the last three years.

Heliworks operations co-ordinator Barbara Swan says they too have had a dramatic increase in business and this is just the beginning.


‘There’s no sign of it waning, in fact it’s only starting – people plan a trip to New Zealand a long time in advance and this film has just heightened their interest in this part of the world.’

In the year after Hobbiton was opened to the public, more than 12,000 people visited the grassy farm in Matamata, in the rich pastoral heart of the North Island. Three hundred thousand people have been through in the last six months and it’s currently attracting 150 people a day. Between now and Christmas the owners are expecting another 35,000 and have bookings as far away as 2008.


Ian Brodie, the author of ‘The Lord of the Rings Location Guidebook’ has been inundated with requests to take Tolkien fans and international media to filming locations.


‘I’ve always thought of New Zealand as Middle-earth, long before it was realised on film and it’s just brilliant that it is now truly established as the home of Middle-earth.’


The film industry has also reaped the rewards of the trilogy. David Rycroft, of Film South, which provides help and advice for film companies looking to work in the South Island, says the agency has been inundated with inquiries from around the world since the success of the Rings trilogy.


‘Peter Jackson clearly demonstrated that New Zealand is not only a fantastic location for shooting a wide of variety of landscapes, but that we have got a world-class film industry here,’ Rycroft says.


‘The Lord of the Rings showcased the scenery in a way that has never been done before. It has things we take for granted - our sky is not cluttered with planes; the wide open spaces, and a variety of terrains, are all in close proximity. You would be hard pressed to find any country in the world with a variety in scenery that we have.’