Monday, October 02, 2006

Release of newest edition of Lonely Planet New Zealand

"The world's biggest film set is also the world's must-visit destination for the umpteenth year in a row," gushes the introduction. "No wonder the locals are smiling. They've long known they live in paradise and now everyone else does too." So begins the 13th edition of Lonely Planet New Zealand. The result of 5 writers on the road for 26 weeks, it offers a sometimes harsh but fair judging of all that New Zealand has to offer.

The authors praise New Zealand for it’s spectacular scenery, adrenalin pumping activities, music, wine and clean green image. The main cities fair well - Wellington is considered hip and energetic, Auckland cool, and Christchurch is seen as a thoroughly modern NZ city.

But some of the small towns are dismissed by the authors for being outdoor shopping malls (Cromwell), nondescript service hubs (Alexandra), fairly bleak (Ranfurly) and of little interest (Balclutha). Harsh judgements, I think, having visited many of the places myself. But it will give many of New Zealand’s small towns ‘food for thought’. If they are truly interested in attracting and then holding the attention of overseas visitors, they may need to work on and develop their appeal.

Lonely Planet guides have always been known for their honest appraisal of a place and this edition is no different. This honesty has only enhanced sales of its guidebook series. And the New Zealand editions are among Lonely Planet’s highest selling. It will be interesting to see if this edition maintains that honor.

New Zealand takes top billing

New Zealand is a star in Hollywood. Its spectacularly rugged and diverse scenery have provided the landscape for a number of Hollywood blockbuster. As a result, movie tourism has taken off in a big way. Following the release of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, numerous tour companies and guide books were created specifically to provide fans with access to LOTR location sites. But even before New Zealand became the new Middle Earth, movie tourism existed in New Zealand.
Among the main locations are:

The Piano:
Karekare Beach, Auckland
Lord of the Rings:
Matamata - Hobbiton
Rangitikei River - River Anduin
The Volcanic Plateau - Mordor
Wellington - The Shire, Moria and Bree
Hutt Valley - Isengard, Rivendell, Minas Tirith, Minas Morgul
and Helm's Deep
Nelson - Dimrill Dale
Takaka - Chetwood Forest
Canterbury - Plains of Rohan
Mackenzie Basin - Pelennor Fields
Queenstown - Lothlorien
Southern Alps - Misty Mountains
Milford Sound - Fangorn Forest
Perfect Strangers:
Punakaiki Rocks, West Coast South Island
Whale Rider:
Whangara, the tiny village on the NI east coast
The Last Samurai:
The Worlds Fastest Indian:
Oreti Beach in the southlands of New Zealand
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe:
Flock Hill Station, near Oamaru
River Queen:
Whanganui River in Wanganui

Tourism New Zealand’s website provides more information on visiting the film
locations of
Lord of the Rings, River Queen, The World's Fastest Indian, and The Chronicles of Narnia.