The Tolkien Tourism Effect

Have you ever read the Lord of the Rings books written by J. R. R. Tolkien? If you have, then you can appreciate the epic story told through the books. These books are a modern work of art and are highly revered around the world, which shows the number of languages that the books have been translated to. There are a lot of people around the world that love the story of this epic series of books. With the advent of technology, it was only a matter of time before they made a successful adaption of Tolkien’s books for the big screen.

New Zealand

by Patrick Brosset

There was much excitement, anticipation and also trepidation to the release of the films. The previous attempts had been good in their own right but did not convey the true magnitude of the story being told. To put it bluntly, fans of the books were disappointed. Some die hard fans moaned about the inclusion or exclusions of certain parts of the book, but Peter Jackson who directed the movies, tried his best to include everything which helped to tell the story.

Thumbs up for New Zealand

The filming of the Lord of the Rings films was chosen to be done in New Zealand for various reasons. The filming took around 18 months of location shooting. But with the Pick Up shots and other things to be added, the three films were made over 5 years between 1999 and 2004. This was a huge boost for the local economy of Wellington where the Weta Digital team was appointed the task of creating all of the special effects, which would be required for the films. Weta did everything from creating Digital special effects to creating props, backdrops and scale models of the places and buildings of Middle Earth. This created and secured a lot of jobs for many people. As well as Weta, there were lots of works for other industries as well:

  • Catering
  • Prop Making
  • Animals and Handlers
  • Extras
  • Accommodation
  • Training
  • Extras
  • Tradesmen

A lot of people benefited from the filming of the Lord of the Rings. This is set to be increased with the filming and release of The Hobbit trilogy of films, which are the prequel to the Lord of the Rings. Even today the making of all of these films is still having a direct effect on the people of New Zealand, and Wellington in Particular. Tolkien Tourism has started, and people want to see where the magic happened!

A Tourism Boost

New Zealand suddenly faced an influx of tourists who were keen to explore Middle Earth as it appeared in the films. An executive decision was made after the filming to keep some of the sets intact as tourist destinations. This has proved extremely popular with Lord of the Rings fans from all over the world and has attracted a lot more tourists to this beautiful and wonderful country. It is not just a bonus for the concession owners who run these attractions either. Jobs are created, local hotels, restaurants, bars and other attractions also have seen an increase in customers. This has helped to give the local economy a much needed boost and create jobs for the locals, in turn putting money directly into the community.

Because of their work on these films, some people and companies have also been able to springboard off the back of success from these films to bigger and better things. Weta is a great example of this as it is now a worldwide leader in the special effects industry. You can even go and visit the Weta studio to see where the magic happens and buy a souvenir perhaps. Have you ever wanted to own your own ring as in the story?

Knock on Effect

This has also had a knock on effect, and a recent one would be the Game of Thrones TV series, which is based on the books written by George R. R. Martin. The producers of the series use locations in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Iceland, and Croatia. Some people, instead of looking to book a holiday in the Algarve, are looking to go away where their favourite TV show is filmed. This is being encouraged by the production companies as well as the locals in these locations and could very well be the start of a new trend amongst holiday makers.


Ariana Louis is a modern adventurer who loves to travel around the world. Ariana loves sharing her ideas, opinions, and adventures in the articles and blogs that she writes. Ariana loves to take her family on holiday somewhere new.  She often checks Travel Republic Images to see new interesting places to visit abroad.