The Southern Lakes - a truly epic
Return of the King, the third and final instalment
in the Lord of the Rings trilogy premiered in Wellington in December
2004 shattering box-office records and confirming Peter Jackson's
place in the film-makers hall of fame.
In only its first two weeks after release The Return of the King
is estimated to have earned over $779 million in box-office takings
in 39 countries - the highest numbers for a worldwide film debut
and a tribute to the six years of hard work invested in this project
by the members of New Zealand's blossoming film industry.
But the real star of the trilogy is not its exhausted director
or handsome leading man but the breathtaking beauty and
awe-inspiring proportions of New Zealand's natural landscape
which breathed tangible life into Tolkien's unique vision of Middle
'Tolkien's world was one of deep hidden valleys, barren wastelands,
remote mystical mountains and lush, low valleys, and we found all
these places throughout New Zealand'. Peter
Jackson explains his decision to film the popular epic trilogy in
the foreword to the latest edition of Ian Brodie's best selling
'Lord of the Rings Location Guidebook'.
Wanaka man Ian Brodie made New Zealand publishing history when
the first edition of his Lord of the Rings location guidebook
became the fastest selling book on record. The revised edition,
including location photographs, information and movie images from
the final film, interviews with cast and crew and special features
written by Jackson, Barrie Osborne (producer) and Richard Taylor
was launched in November 2003 and, together with the original version,
has already sold over 205,000 copies. With markets in the UK, Europe,
South Africa, Hong Kong, Singapore and possibly the US, the second
edition has launched Brodie onto the world stage as an ambassador
for New Zealand at tourism forums and Tolkien galas.
Brodie isn't the only local entrepreneur to benefit from the overwhelming
success of the films. Lord of the Rings fever has incited a surge
in tourism numbers in the southern lakes region cleverly harnessed
by a number of intriguing Middle Earth-inspired tourism
ventures. The distinctive and varied natural landscape
encompassing Wanaka, Queenstown and Fiordland provided a wealth
of backdrops for all three films but the remoteness necessary to
create the illusion of vast uninterrupted panoramas from flat land
to snowcapped mountain means many of these locations are only accessible
by 4WD, boat or plane.