New Zealand Study Tour Itinerary

Note: The professional presenters named herein may be available for these dates depending on their schedules; if unavailable, significant alternates will meet with us.

Thursday, May 14:

Arrive at Auckland International Airport, probably early morning. Michael Fleck of Good Company Pacific Cultural Journeys, your guide on this tour, will greet you upon arrival and assist in taking shuttle vans to our downtown hotel.

Rest. Walkabout theatre district and waterfront. Welcome dinner. Possibly an evening at the theatre. Accom: Kiwi International Hotel, Queen St.

Friday, May 15:

After breakfast, we walk to the (nearby) Academy Cinema for a presentation from film production designer Grant Major (Oscar: Lord of The Rings: The Return of the King), followed by a presentation by production design visionary Mike Mizrahi of Inside Out Events.

Lunch at nearby Auckland Art Gallery. Gallery visit.

Our bus then takes us to the studios of New Zealand's unique Maori Television. Guided tour.

If time permits, we also visit the studios of South Pacific Pictures (film and television).

After dinner on the Auckland waterfront, we may see an evening production at either the ASB Waterfront Theatre or at the annual Architecture & Design Film Festival at the Rialto Cinema, Newmarket.

Saturday, May 16:

A day visiting some of the major performance venues in central Auckland, if ongoing productions permit:

  • The Mighty Civic — Legendary atmospheric theatre of 1930. One-hour guided presentation.
  • Aotea Centre — New Zealand's largest performing arts centre.
  • Auckland Town Hall — Historic performance space.
  • Lunch break
  • Q Theater — Two-in-one community-designed multi-purpose theatre venues.
  • ASB Waterfront Theatre tour (if time permits)
  • OR Auckland Museum — among the finest in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • Evening dinner and theatre production, perhaps at Pop-Up Globe Theatre.

Sunday, May 17:

After breakfast, we walk to the ferry and cross the Hauraki Gulf (35 minutes) to Waiheke Island. We experience a traditional Maori welcome at the local marae, and view interior carvings and design, likely hosted by artists Paora Toi te Rangiuaia or Chris Bailey.

We also visit the Artworks and Library design complex in the main village, Oneroa. Lunch at celebrated Casito Miro restaurant, vineyard and art gardens.

Afternoon visit and korero (conversation) at studio/gallery of village designer Claude Lewenz and painter Gabriella Lewenz (formerly of New England).

Dinner at Cable Bay or Mudbrick Vineyards. Ferry return to Auckland.

Monday, May 18:

After breakfast, we travel to Main Reactor, directed by Roger Murray. It is Auckland’s equivalent of Weta Workshop in Wellington, creating props and costumes for productions like Mulan.

If accessible, we then visit the digital design and production studios at Studio West ("Xena" "Young Hercules"), possibly guided by digital designer Tim Capper.

Lunch in West Auckland.

If she is available, we meet designer Ngila Dickson (Oscar: Costume Design, Lord of the Rings), then travel over to Ellerslie to visit the celebrated Pop-Up Globe Theatre and possibly meet designers there.

After dinner, we may enjoy a Pop-Up Globe production, or a free evening (most theatres are dark) The annual Comedy Festival may be sparking.

Tuesday, May 19:

After an early breakfast, we travel by coach two hours south to Hobbiton, the rural village setting for Peter Jackson's films of the Tolkien classics. Specialist guide requested.

Lunch at or near Hobbiton, probably in Matamata town.

We continue south to Lake Taupo (second largest in Southern Hemisphere) and at the lake's southern end, we pause to immerse ourselves in the thermal springs at Tokaanu. Then a bit further to Tongariro National Park and its three major volcanoes — the setting for Mordor scenes in Lord of the Rings.

After dinner a visit to the elegant Chateau Hotel.

Accom: Skotel (with views of Mt Doom)

Wednesday, May 20:

After breakfast, we travel south through the Whanganui River region to Wellington, New Zealand's capital city (Wellywood, to those in the film industry).

Lunch stop en route.

After settling into our hotel, there is a time to walk the impressive waterfront, including the Civic Plaza, the Michael Fowler Performing Arts Centre, and the celebrated carved wooden bridge of Maori sculptor Para Matchitt.

Dinner in the Courtney Place theatre district near our hotel, and possibly an evening program at the historic Embassy Theatre (art deco cinema), or at the Circa Theatre, Wellington's oldest professional theatre.

Accom: West Plaza Hotel

Thursday, May 21:

After breakfast, we visit Sir Peter Jackson's Weta Studios — construction, costume, etc. And the Weta Cave and Workshop -- perhaps welcomed by Sir Richard Taylor (five production Oscars).

We may also be able to visit Park Road Post (post-production studios) and possibly studios devoted to the new Avatar films.

Lunch at Coco’s in the glamorous art deco Roxy Theatre, Miramar, with a possible presentation by Jamie Selkirk (Oscar: Editing, Lord of The Rings: The Return of the King).
That afternoon we visit T01 Whaakari Drama School and the Parliament House.

Friday, May 22:

After breakfast, we walk to the nearby national museum, Te Papa, with a special focus on the Treaty of Waitangi, the Marae, and the Polynesian voyages.

After lunch, a possible tour of Circa Theatre or the classic St. James Theatre, and perhaps the Opera House.

We also meet with Stephen Blackburn, producer of WOW — the annual World of Wearable Art design/performance event.

Some afternoon free time for personal explorations, meetings, shopping.

Dinner will be an evening theatre event.

Saturday, May 23:

After breakfast, our coach takes us to the port terminal and we board the Interislander ferry for the magnificent three-hour passage across the Cook Strait to Picton on the South Island.

After lunch on the Picton waterfront, our South Island coach begins the two-hour coastal drive to Kaikoura. Here there's time for refreshment and a brief visit to the famous Whale Watch Centre. Then we continue another 2.5 hours to Christchurch.

Dinner. Evening walkabout along Avon River.

Accom: YMCA Hotel

Sunday, May 24:

After breakfast, we take the beautiful drive to Banks Peninsula and the harbor village Akaroa (a former French colony) via Lyttelton and Governor's Bay. We visit the world-renowned Giant's House mosaic sculptures, gallery, and gardens, and for those interested in marine life, there is an option to take the harbor cruise to view seals, penguins and dolphins — and even swim with the latter!

Lunch, bien sur! Late afternoon we return to Christchurch for dinner and perhaps a theatre event.

Accom: YMCA Hotel

Monday, May 25:

After breakfast, we visit the historic Arts Centre, the Christchurch Art Gallery, and possibly meet with theatre technicians from the Court Theatre.

After lunch at the Arts Centre or Gallery, we may tour backstage at the Theatre Royal (Sir Ian McKellen was a benefactor for its earthquake restoration), and view the ‘cardboard cathedral’ and Cathedral Square.

Our coach then takes us south, three hours or so, to the coastal town of Oamaru.

A brief rest to view the whitestone architecture, Gallery, and walkabout in Victorian village. Dinner.

Accom: Ambassador Motor Lodge

Tuesday, May 26:

After an early breakfast, we continue south to Dunedin to view the historic Railway Station, the Public Art Gallery, and the Fortune Theatre (if accessible).

Lunch near the Octagon, then we head inland into golden Central Otago and the alpine valleys to Queenstown, on the shore of Lake Wakatipu.

Dinner and evening walkabout in town center and lakeside.

Accom: Pinewood Lodge, Queenstow

Wednesday, May 27:

Early morning options: All-day bus and boat trip to Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound (the Tasman Sea fiords) OR ... (depending on weather and your interest), we drive along the lake 30 minutes and visit Little Paradise Art Gardens near Glenorchy.

In this region, we view Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers locations and the location of New Zealand director Jane Campion’s Top of the Lake TV special.

The energetic among us may also wish to walk up Queenstown Hill (45 minutes) to the Millennium sculpture and a truly breathtaking panorama. There are other options, such as bungy jumping, parasail gliding, jet-boating, river rafting.

Farewell Dinner at The Bazaar in Rydges Hotel at the edge of the lake.
 Accom: Pinewood Lodge or Copthorne Apts, Queenstown

Thursday, May 28:

After breakfast at our hotel, there may be time for shopping and walkabout lakeside and gardens, Queenstown, before our bus takes us to the airport for our flight to Auckland, where we make our overseas connections, or extend our New Zealand adventure.

If time permits, have one last (superb) New Zealand coffee at The Bathhouse - Tapas Bar & Restaurant on the waterfront, Queenstown Bay, New Zealand.