We’re going to New Zealand to bring you a one-of-a-kind study tour experience you will not want to miss. Think beautiful scenery, from subtropical forests, beaches, and offshore islands in the north to glaciers, lakes, snow-covered mountains, and large flat plains in the south. Imagine fjords, volcanoes, hot springs, and beautiful rolling green pastures, a diversity like no other place on earth all while gaining unique insight into the New Zealand film and theatre industry.
USITT’s upcoming study tour will explore the Maori culture and the breathtaking beauty of both the North and South Island. The tour will take place May 14-28, 2020.
Our tour will include multiple talks from industry professionals. We expect to meet with production designer Grant Major (Oscar: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King) and costume designer Ngila Dickson (Oscar: Costume Design, Lord of the Rings) if their film schedules permit. We will visit the Main Reactor studios (the leading props and makeup effects shop in New Zealand), South Pacific Pictures Studios (The Whale Rider New Zealand’s largest screen production company) and Sir Peter Jackson’s Weta Studios, Costume, Hair, Makeup, Special effects, Sculpting and 3D modeling, engineering, miniatures, molding, imaging etc.) in Wellington. We also meet with Stephen Blackburn, producer of WOW — the annual World of Wearable Art performance event.
Regarding Maori culture, we will visit the studios of New Zealand’s unique Maori Television, and in Waiheke Island we will experience a traditional Maori welcome at the local marae and talk with local artist Paora Toi te Rangiuaia or Chris Bailey.
In the North Island, we will explore Hobbiton, the rural village setting for Peter Jackson’s films of the Tolkien classics, Lake Taupo (second largest in Southern Hemisphere) the thermal hot springs at Tokaanu. and Tongariro National Park and its three major volcanoes (the setting for Mordor scenes in Lord of the Rings).
In the South Island, we will visit the beautiful coastal town of Kaikoura (Whale Watch Centre) and Akaroa (Hector’s dolphins). Near Queenstown we will explore some of the Lord of the Rings locations and Glenorchy on Lake Wakatipu.
Alongside you on this tour will be Tour Leader Alessia Carpoca and Tour Operator, Michael Fleck. Learn more about your guides, here!
Visiting New Zealand will be the trip of a lifetime and the chance to experience your own slice of Middle‑earth. While New Zealand is at the very edge of the world, you are sure to experience a natural paradise while also learning from some of their leading film and theatre professionals.
In the 2000s, Peter Jackson filmed the The Lord of the Rings series in New Zealand, using a largely Kiwi production crew, helping create an enormous skill base in the New Zealand film industry. This has led to a number of prominent Hollywood films being made in New Zealand, with major international productions not only filming there but also using the country’s various post-production facilities and special effects companies.
Among these films are The Last Samurai and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Major productions such as Avatar used Jackson’s Wellington studios and the services of the special-effects company Weta Digital. New Zealand theatre borrowed heavily from English storytelling traditions in its early years, but the amount of local playwriting and content has significantly increased. New Zealand now hosts a world-class national orchestra and national ballet company, a national opera company and several quality regional orchestras. All main centers have professional theatre companies and there are excellent galleries and museums.