USITT New Zealand Study Tour

Registration is now open!
Join us!

Quick facts:

  • May 14-28, 2020
  • The study tour will start in Auckland (North Island) and end in Queenstown (South Island) .

  • Participants are responsible for their own airfare into Auckland and out of Queenstown.

  • Total cost for double occupancy land only is $2,850 per person. (additional $535 single supplement)


  • $1300 deposit due Nov 1 - Jan 15
  • $2000 deposit due Jan 16 - March 12
  • Balance due March 16

About New Zealand

Visiting New Zealand will be the trip of a lifetime and the chance to experience your own slice of Middle‑earth. While New Zealand is at the very edge of the world you are sure to experience a natural paradise while also learning from some of their leading film and theatre professionals. In the 2000s, Peter Jackson filmed the The Lord of the Rings series in New Zealand, using a largely Kiwi production crew, helping create an enormous skill base in the New Zealand film industry. This has led to a number of prominent Hollywood films being made in New Zealand, with major international productions not only filming there but also using the country's various post-production facilities and special effects companies. Among these films are The Last Samurai and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Major productions such as Avatar used Jackson's Wellington studios and the services of the special-effects company Weta Digital. New Zealand theatre borrowed heavily from English storytelling traditions in its early years, but the amount of local playwriting and content has significantly increased. New Zealand now hosts a world-class national orchestra and national ballet company, a national opera company and several quality regional orchestras. All main centers have professional theatre companies and there are excellent galleries and museums.


    Program Summary

    This two-week tour will provide participants with a unique insight into New Zealand Film and Theatre industry, the Maori culture and the breathtaking beauty of both the North and South Island. New Zealand has an amazing range of beautiful scenery, from subtropical forests, beaches, and offshore islands in the north to glaciers, lakes, snow-covered mountains, and large flat plains in the south. There are also fjords, volcanoes, hot springs, and beautiful rolling green pastures, a diversity like no other place on earth. Fall in New Zealand is gorgeous, the summer crowds have left, the attractions charge off-peak rates, and the weather is amazing.

    Our tour will include multiple talks from industry professionals: we expect to meet with production designer Grant Major (Oscar: "The Return of the King" LOTR) and costume designer Ngila Dickson (Oscar: Costume Design, LOTR) if their film schedules permits. We will visit the Main Reactor studios (the leading props and make-up effects shop in New Zealand), South Pacific Pictures Studios (The Whale Rider New Zealand’s largest screen production company) and Sir Peter Jackson's Weta Studios, Costume, Hair, Make-Up, Special effects, Sculpting and 3d modeling, engineering, miniatures, molding, imaging etc. ) in Wellington. We also meet with Stephen Blackburn, producer of WOW — the annual World of Wearable Art performance event.

    Regarding Maori culture, we will visit the studios of NZ's unique Maori Television and in Waiheke Island we will experience a traditional Maori welcome at the local marae, and talk with local artist Paora Toi te Rangiuaia or Chris Bailey.

    In the North Island we will explore Hobbiton, the rural village setting for Peter Jackson's films of the Tolkien classics, Lake Taupo (second largest in Southern Hemisphere) the thermal hot springs at Tokaanu. and Tongariro National Park and its three major volcanoes (the setting for Mordor scenes in LOTR)

    In the South Island we will visit the beautiful coastal town of Kaikoura (Whale Watch Centre) and Akaroa (Hector's dolphins). Near Queenstown we will explore some of the LOTR locations and Glenorchy on Lake Wakatipu.


    • $1300 deposit due Nov 1 - Jan 15
    • $2000 deposit due Jan 16 - March 12
    • Balance due March 16


    These costs include twin share or double (for couples) ensuite rooms. Guests requesting a single supplement room pay the additional cost. 


    All breakfasts are included with accommodation. Group members will purchase most of their own lunches, dinners, snacks and alcoholic beverages except on the final day, when the cost of the Farewell Dinner (food only, not beverages) is included in the total cost of the tour.


    Domestic travel costs include:

    • travel each day in a private coach with New Zealand driver
    • return ferry passage from Auckland to Waiheke Island
    • Interislander ferry passage from Wellington to Picton (South Island)
    • all local transfers to and from airports and ferry terminals.

    International airfares and flights from Queenstown to Aukland on the final day are not included in the cost of the tour package.

    Arrival: Travelers should plan to arrive at Auckland International Airport on the morning of May 14. Transfers to the hotel will be scheduled as soon as flight details are collected from registrants.

    Departure: There is no activity scheduled for the morning of May 28. Participants could arrange transportation to Queenstown Airport on thier own. You are free to book a flight anytime during that day back to Auckland or wait for the bus being arranged for later in the morning.


    These costs include admission to:    

    • Piritahi Marae program, Waiheke Island   
    • Auckland Museum          

    Tour Leader

    Alessia Carpoca is the Head of the Theatre Design and Technology program at the University of Montana. She designed professionally in Canada, Italy, Germany and the Czech Republic along with several theatres in the USA. She is an active member of USITT, leading the Troubleshooters crew at the Annual Conference. For USITT, she developed and led the Study Tour to Italy in June 2013 and the Study Tour to Germany and the Czech Republic in June 2015. She was also the Assistant Project Coordinator for the 2011 USITT-USA Prague Quadrennial exhibit. Alessia spent her sabbatical semester in Kyoto in the Fall of 2016 partnering with the Art Research Center at Ritsumeikan University. She attended multiple Prague Quadrennials and OISTAT congresses and the 2017 World Stage Design exhibit in Taiwan.

    Tour Operator

    Michael Fleck, Michael’s comes from a very artistic family and has been involved in theatre all his life. He moved to New Zealand 35 years ago and was the Touring Coordinator for the New Zealand Arts Council from 1985 to 1991. Michal has organized several film and theatre study tours for large and small groups of students and professionals including 3 tours for Milan’s Brera Scenography Academy.