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One million pairs of ‘hairy feet’ visit New Zealand’s Hobbiton Movie Set

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

One million pairs of ‘hairy feet’ visit New Zealand’s Hobbiton Movie SetFor well over a decade tourists have been visiting a small pocket of green farmland in the depths of Middle-earth™ New Zealand and today marks a special milestone for the famous destination.

Video release links – You Tube

Hobbiton™ Movie Set, near Matamata in New Zealand’s Waikato region, has welcomed its one millionth visitor in a celebration that coincides with the very reason for its existence. As the movie set milestone was reached in the lush hills of the real Middle-earth- New Zealand, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – the final film in Sir Peter Jackson’s epic Trilogies adapting the timeless novels of J.R.R. Tolkien – was being released to the world on DVD/Blu-Ray.

Few would have realised the impact the movies would have on the real Middle-earth, New Zealand. Hobbiton Movie Set is now one of New Zealand’s most visited tourist attractions and has become an international bucket-list travel destination. Since filming wrapped on The Hobbit Trilogy, New Zealand has seen an unprecedented increase in the flow of fans and tourists to the country, with more visitors than ever before citing the popular films as an influencing factor when choosing New Zealand as a holiday destination.

Hobbiton Movie Set’s General Manager Russell Alexander was on-hand to welcome the one millionth visitor—Don McCormack, from Southern California—who was given an exact replica of the Trilogies’ emblematic “The One Ring,” made in Nelson, New Zealand, along with a bottle of the Green Dragon’s finest ale.

“‘It is a very exciting and humbling achievement to have hosted one million guests over the past thirteen years, it’s an incredible milestone. We are extremely proud of our enduring role in the real Middle-earth and we look forward to hosting many more visitors in the years to come,” says Alexander.

One millionth Hobbit

Don McCormack, the Hobbiton Movie Set’s one millionth visitor, was ecstatic with his prize and couldn’t wait to send pictures to his grandson back home in America.

“It was really unexpected. We were coming just to enjoy the set, and we are excited about being the one millionth visitor. We’re die-hard fans; when the latest movie came out we had to wait in line to get tickets to go see it.”

McCormack and his wife have been enjoying a trip around the North Island of New Zealand, and say Hobbiton was “unbelievably beautiful.”

“I can’t believe how much detail there is, it’s unbelievable. I’m amazed that everything around it is all real. This little piece of Middle-earth is amazing, and I’m really looking forward to seeing the rest of it.”

Middle-earth lives on

Middle-earth fans, fascinated by the world Sir Peter Jackson captured on film during his The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogies, continue to visit the dramatic scenery of New Zealand- the cinematic Middle-earth.

International visitor arrivals data for year ending February 2015 show holiday arrivals into New Zealand are up 7.8 per cent year on year.

For the period January to December 2014, just over 100,000 international visitors said that The Hobbit Trilogy was a factor in influencing their initial interest in New Zealand.

Tourism New Zealand’s Chief Executive Kevin Bowler says that The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and, more recently, The Hobbit Trilogy gave New Zealand a unique opportunity to showcase itself as a visitor destination by leveraging off one of the largest movie franchises in history.

“The Trilogies have put New Zealand and its stunning landscapes centre stage for movie lovers world-wide, and Tourism New Zealand’s work has been to connect the landscapes of Middle-earth with the experiences of a real life New Zealand holiday.

“And while the Trilogies are complete, New Zealand’s association as the home of the cinematic Middle-earth will live on. The establishment of Middle-earth tourism experiences – the most famous being Hobbiton Movie Set – ensures the legacy continues.”

A long yet rewarding journey

It has been a long journey since a location scout first came knocking on the Alexander farm door in 1998. Back then, the fertile green paddocks on a quiet back country road were home to the Alexander family, and their grazing livestock – 13,500 sheep and around 400 cattle.

Hobbiton was then created by director Sir Peter Jackson to depict the home of the Hobbits for The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

In December 2002, Russell Alexander was conducting the first tours of the movie set, and which was rebuilt out of permanent materials from 2009 to 2011 for The Hobbit Trilogy.

Since then, tourists from all over the world have been flocking to Hobbiton Movie Set to get their own insider’s view of the epic filming projects, making it the largest permanent film set you can visit in the world.

The two-hour tour shows tourists around 44 Hobbit Holes dug into the green Waikato hillside, Hobbit orchards, the Party Tree and party field, and finishes with a pint in The Green Dragon™ Inn.

Alexander says,

“I can honestly say I never in my wildest dreams thought it would be this big. From where we began in 2002, running a couple of tours in our wee van, to where we are now is very humbling and a true testament to the great team we have here at Hobbiton Movie Set. It doesn’t stop here though, I have made it a personal goal to do something new every year. We have some very exiting additions we will be unveiling in the next 12 months so watch this space.”

Hobbiton Movie Set fact file

• Film set area: covers approximately 12 acres

• Hobbit houses: 44 Hobbit Holes

• Party tree: 70 – 80 metres tall

• Construction: 70 set builders

• Catering: During production, three meals were served daily to cast and crew, plus snacks on demand for 600+ people

• Gardens: 2.3km (and growing) hedges; 30 – 200 plants around each Hobbit house

• Ground staff: 7 – 8 gardeners during height of season, 5 in winter

• Traditional ales, cider and non-alcoholic ginger beer, all brewed exclusively for Hobbiton, are served from barrels behind the bar at the Green Dragon Inn.

• The set is a two-hour drive from Auckland and within easy access of other tourist destinations including Rotorua, Waitomo, Tauranga and the city of Hamilton.

About The Hobbit Trilogy:

Peter Jackson, the Academy Award®-winning director of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, directed The Hobbit Trilogy – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and the final film, The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies. The Trilogy screenplays were written by Fran Walsh & Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson & Guillermo del Toro. Jackson also produced the films, together with Carolynne Cunningham, Zane Weiner and Fran Walsh. The executive producers are Alan Horn, Toby Emmerich, Ken Kamins and Carolyn Blackwood, with Boyens and Eileen Moran serving as co-producers. All three films in The Hobbit Trilogy are productions of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM), with New Line managing production. Warner Bros. Pictures handled worldwide theatrical distribution, with select international territories as well as all international television distribution handled by MGM.

About The Lord of the Rings Trilogy:

From New Line Cinema, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy is directed by Peter Jackson from screenplays by Fran Walsh & Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson based on the book by J. R. R. Tolkien. Produced by Barrie M. Osborne, Fran Walsh and Peter Jackson, the Trilogy is co-produced by Rick Porras and Jamie Selkirk. Robert Shaye and Michael Lynne are the executive producers, along with Mark Ordesky.

Outstanding month of arrivals drives overall visitor growth

Saturday, March 21st, 2015

The combination of Chinese New Year and the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 has resulted in impressive arrivals growth for the month of February, says Tourism New Zealand’s Chief Executive Kevin Bowler.

Arrivals in February 2015 were up 14.0 per cent compared to the same period last year.

The data, released today by Statistics New Zealand, confirms that much of the growth is driven from the higher-value holiday visitor, with holiday arrivals for the month up 24.2 per cent.

As a result, total arrivals for the year ending February are up 5.1 per cent and holiday arrivals up 7.8 per cent pushing New Zealand’s total arrivals above 2.9 million annually of the first time ever.

China has seen staggering growth for the month with holiday arrivals up over 100 per cent.

“Chinese New Year is a key travel period for this market so it is great to see that reflected in the months arrivals,” says Kevin.

“What is even more encouraging is the increase in holiday stay days, up 30.6 per cent for the year ended February, which is a great sign that we are attracting more high quality Chinese visitors.”

Growth for the month was further bolstered by the Cricket World Cup which kicked off in February. Tourism New Zealand’s activity around the major sporting event has worked to target the key markets of Australia, India and the UK.

“As a result these markets have seen positive growth for the month with Australia up 1.6 per cent, the UK up 1.8 per cent and India up an incredible 36.0 per cent.

“The event continues into March so I am confident we will continue to see the flow on effects in next month’s arrivals.”

Holiday results are strong out of the Asian markets of Singapore (up 9.2 per cent), Japan (up 11.6 per cent), Korea (up 12.2 per cent) for the year ending February 2015.

Tourism New Zealand’s priority emerging markets are performing well year-on-year with total arrivals from Brazil up 12.4 per cent and Indonesia up 13.3 per cent.

Year-on-year growth has been further supported by solid holiday arrivals from Western markets with holiday arrivals from the US, UK and Germany up 13.8 per cent, 2.6 per cent and 11.8 per cent respectively.

Our largest source market, Australia, has seen steady growth over the summer months with holiday arrivals up 1.4 per cent for the year ending February.

ENDS

Commercial Accommodation Monitor Jan 15

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

The latest Commercial Accommodation Monitor (CAM) Figures for January 2015:

The Hamilton & Waikato region saw an increase in guest nights of 6.9% for the month of January 2015 compared to January 2014. International guest nights rose 15.9% and domestic guest nights rose 4.3%.

For the year ended January 2015 guest nights rose by 6.4%. International guest nights rose 5.0% and domestic guest nights rose 6.8%.

National figures saw an increase of 3.8% month on month with international guest nights increasing 2.5% and domestic guest nights increasing 4.6%.

For more information click here.

Hospitality Training Trust grants available

Saturday, March 7th, 2015

The Hospitality Training Trust has $135,000 worth of grants available for projects to encourage and support training in the sector.

It could be a great training idea, training for an outstanding employee or a project related to hospitality training. Read more.

Strong summer spending

Saturday, February 28th, 2015

International visitor spending in January 2015 was 9% higher than January 2014, according to the latest Regional Tourism Indicators. The Queenstown, Rotorua, South Canterbury and Wairarapa RTO regions showed particularly strong spending.

In January 2015 domestic spend was 3% higher than in January 2014. There were mixed results with the Auckland, Christchurch, Rotorua and Wellington RTO regions performing better in January 2015 than in January 2014, while Dunedin and Queenstown RTOs saw a decrease.

Read more.

 

Visitor arrivals break another record

Saturday, February 28th, 2015

Visitor arrivals to New Zealand numbered 2.87 million in the January 2015 year, the highest ever annual total and up 4% on the previous year.

Australia (+31,088 or 2.5%), the USA (+20,944 or 10.4%) and China (+20,128 or 8.4%) collectively contributed around 61% of the growth over this YE January 2015.

Read more

January arrivals a great start for 2015

Friday, February 27th, 2015

New Zealand’s appeal as a holiday destination continued to drive annual visitor growth during January this year – with total holiday arrivals up 5.6 per cent for the year ended January 2015.

The data, released today by Statistics New Zealand, reveals that for the 12 months to the end of January total arrivals have grown by 4.3 per cent to over 2.86 million.

Tourism New Zealand (TNZ) Chief Executive Kevin Bowler says “this is a great start to 2015 and has been further supported by an increase in visitors’ spend, up 13 per cent for the year ended December 2014.

“We have also seen stay days increase 7.5 per cent for the year ending January, with holiday stay days up 8.7 for the same period which are great indications that we are attracting more high value visitors to the country.”

Our largest source market, Australia, has seen steady growth over the summer months with holiday arrivals up 2.4 per cent for the year ended January.

China has seen a dip in arrivals for the month of January which can be attributed to the timing of Chinese New Year, which fell in February this year. The market remains in growth for the year with holiday arrivals up 6.4 per cent.

“We are continuing to see a significant shift in the China market, with holiday stay days having increased by 12.9 per cent for the same period and holiday spend up 50 per cent for the year ended December 2014,” says Kevin.

“These indicate a shift towards higher quality and higher value Chinese travellers and I am confident we will see a spike in arrivals from this market in February,” says Kevin.

Holiday results are strong out of the Asian markets of Singapore (up 5.0 per cent), Japan (up 10.3 per cent), Korea (up 12.4 per cent).

Tourism New Zealand’s priority emerging markets are performing well with total arrivals from India up an impressive 21.7 per cent, Brazil up 14.4 per cent and Indonesia up 12.8 per cent year-on-year.

Overall growth has been supported by steady holiday arrivals from Western markets with holiday arrivals from the US, UK and Germany up 14.2 per cent, 1.7 per cent and 16.0 per cent respectively.

ENDS

Contact Georgina Maguire, Communications Advisor, Tourism New Zealand
georgina.maguire@tnz.govt.nz; phone +64 21 478 659

Visitor spend grows 13% in 2014

Saturday, February 21st, 2015

Total estimated visitor spend in New Zealand reached $7.4 billion for the year ending December 2014, up 13% on 2013, according to the latest quarterly International Visitor Survey.

The growth is driven by our major markets, with significant increases in total spending by visitors from the USA +32%, the UK +29% and China +50%. However, spend from Australian visitors was down 8% in 2014.

Read more here

Regional Tourism Indicators – Dec 2014

Monday, February 16th, 2015

The latest Regional Tourism Indicators for December 14:

The latest Regional Tourism for December 14 show international expenditure in the region sits at an index of 194, an increase of 31 points on December 2013 and higher than the national average of 152.

Domestic expenditure in the region for December 14 sits at an index of 121, an increase of 2 points on December 2013 and lower than the national average of 136.

Read More

The regional tourism indicators (RTI) measure the change in level of expenditure of both international and domestic travellers in New Zealand by region.

The data is based on electronic card transactions.

Commercial Accommodation Monitor Dec 14

Monday, February 16th, 2015

The latest Commercial Accommodation Monitor (CAM) Figures for December 2014:

The Hamilton & Waikato region saw an increase in guest nights of 7.0% for the month of December 2014 compared to December 2013. International guest nights rose 8.3% and domestic guest nights rose 6.5%.

For the year ended December 2014 guest nights rose by 5.8%. International guest nights rose 2.2% and domestic guest nights rose 7.0%.

National figures saw an increase of 7.1% month on month with international guest nights increasing 9.5% and domestic guest nights increasing 5.4%.

For more information click here.