To the international traveler, New Zealand is a country unlike any other. One of the most popular destinations on earth, there is a mind-boggling gamut of stuff to do and see on each of its famous islands. And on top of its own natural beauty and cultural history, the islands of New Zealand hold a special significance to geeks everywhere, as the earthly home of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.
All of Peter Jackson’s industry-changing LotR and Hobbit films were filmed in New Zealand, taking advantage of the varied and pristine landscape. Adventuring to all the featured locations, from Mt. Doom to the hillside homes of Hobbiton, can take a dedicated Rings fan several weeks and covers the whole sweep of both islands! Of course, you can add to the experience by stopping for a tour at Weta Workshop, the famous effects studio which added the fantastic creatures to these stunning natural locations.
For those craving a physical thrill, New Zealand is famously the world’s home of bungee jumping. But you don’t need to take to the skies to scratch your daredevil itch! Try out some other eccentric activities unique to New Zealand: bounce down a hillside in a giant inflatable ball, or race your friends in a high-speed monorail shuttle.
When you’re all worn out from your adventures, you can always relax and spend the night stargazing. The South Island’s status as a “Dark Sky Sanctuary” guarantees a perfect view of the unique Southern Hemisphere starscape. Schedule your trip around July or August, and you can top off your New Zealand adventure with a glimpse of the magnificent Aurora Australia – the Great Southern Lights.
If you’ve toured Middle Earth and you really want to keep the pop-culture train rolling, then see if you can line up a visit to one of New Zealand’s premiere conventions, the Armageddon Expo! These events bring international star power from TV, movies, comics, gaming, streaming and tabletop worlds together under one roof, filling stadiums with happy nerds. The Auckland event in October 2020 is set to be the 25th anniversary of Armageddon, with tons of special promotions and attractions planned. How better to cap off your trip?