New Zealand tops ultimate film destination list

New Zealand is the top film destination people most want to visit in the world - thanks to its lead role in 'The Lord of the Rings' Trilogy – according to a new British survey.

New Zealand is the top film destination people most want to visit in the world - thanks to its lead role in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy – according to a new British survey.

The study by HBO television network, which looked at holiday destinations made famous by TV and film, found these places are booming in popularity with New Zealand topping the list of places viewers most want to travel to.

New York rated second for the Sex and the City fan trail, and Game of Thrones locations featured three times in the Top 10. The popularity of Broadchurch also saw West Bay in Dorset, England feature at number five in the list.

One in five people surveyed admitted they dreamed of visiting the locations used in their favourite TV show or film so they could take a selfie next to a famous spot. 

New Zealand has already seen evidence of that with a rise in the number of visitors claiming the country’s role as Middle-earth and the filming locations of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogies influencing their visit.  

In the year ending March 2015, more than 80,000 visitors said The Hobbit Trilogy was a factor in choosing New Zealand as their holiday destination. And Hobbiton, which acted as the Shire for the movies and is now a permanent movie set, is New Zealand’s fastest growing tourist attraction.

Colin Smith, Director of HBO Home Entertainment UK, which commissioned the research, said that because films and TV shows were filmed in such a variety of places nowadays it allowed people to get a glimpse of places they might never have considered as a holiday destination.

"Some shows are introducing us to countries or cities away from the beaten track, and are helping to broaden our horizons when it comes to our travel plans."

Tourism New Zealand CEO Kevin Bowler agrees and says New Zealand - the real Middle-earth - is seeing an ongoing benefit from the cinematic exposure in the blockbuster films. 

“There’s no doubt these movies have given us a very successful platform on which to promote New Zealand as a great place to visit and experience a real movie set and we have been reaping the benefits of this for some time now. 

“Visitor arrivals to New Zealand nearly hit the 3 million mark for the year ending May 2015, up 6.9% on a year ago.  We have continuing interest from film makers wanting to use New Zealand as their backdrop and we are confident our role in film tourism is going to keep us top of mind for those people wanting to live the dream and visit their favourite film locations.”

New Zealand’s diverse landscapes made it the perfect Middle-earth and nearly 200 different locations were used in both trilogies – from the lush pastures of Hobbiton in the Waikato region of the North Island to the rugged mountain ranges of the South Island which doubled as the Misty Mountains. Tours operate in more than 30 filming locations today.