"The Lord of the Rings" movie trilogy cost almost $300 million to produce and took eight years to complete [source: Brown]. Luckily, the movies were a huge financial and critical success. They drew worldwide attention to New Zealand, the island country in the South Pacific where the trilogy was filmed by resident and native Peter Jackson. "Lord of the Rings" gave New Zealand an opportunity to show off to the world.
Movie tourism tied to Peter Jackson's ambitious projects is now flourishing in New Zealand. Many location tours are designed for the avid fan ready for full immersion in the kingdom of hobbits, elves, wizards and dwarves. One elaborate excursion lasts 12 days and covers breathtaking film locations on two islands. There are also more modest choices that only require a couple of hours.
"Whale Rider" is another movie that brought attention to the New Zealand's stunning beauty and indigenous culture. The surprise 2002 hit movie tells the story of a 12-year-old Maori girl and her family's struggle to accept her ability to lead, despite the tribe's tradition of being guided by men. Guided tours are available in Whangara, the tiny beachside village (population 30) where "Whale Rider" was filmed. One travel agency offers the "Whale Rider Self Drive" [source: Goway]. You get a rental car, an elaborate guidebook and an 11-day itinerary with directions to notable scenes in the movie, accommodations and tickets to Maori concerts and educational presentations.
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