Being a huge LOTR fan, a LOTR tour was a must-do for me in NZ. It was really a stroke of luck that I ended up with the Paradise Safari Tour with Info&Track. While researching, there were so many companies offering the same tour, and such varied feedbacks on Tripadvisor that I got frustrated! I decided to just sign up with the company that I was reading up on then, which was Info&Track!
We were lucky we had a private tour that day. Just me, my friend, and the guide, Adrian. Adrian was the reason why we enjoyed the tour so much! I'm pretty sure all the tour companies offer the same deal and it really comes down to the guides to make a difference! We got really lucky with Adrian!
First up, the drive to Glenorchy was beautiful, as anyone who has been there will tell you. There were a few photo stops and during each, Adrian provided little titbits about the filming of the movie. That was exactly what I wanted, I could get a guidebook and drive myself around to see the filming locations. But I joined a tour to get the "behind the scene" information. My friend was not a LOTR fan at all; she didn't know what we were talking about, but she enjoyed the scenery just as much!
When we got to Paradise, things got better and better! Our first stop at Paradise was the forest where they filmed Lothlorien, Amon Hen and Fangorn Forest. It was a little chilly still and as we was pulling our jackets out from the car, Adrian surprised us with the cloaks that the Hobbits worn! OMG! It was so fun to put these on. But the fun didn't end there! As we walked into the forest, we were presented with replicas of the swords and arrows used in the movie. Then the fun really started. Adrian was not in the LOTR but he sure was a good actor. He got both of us involved as well and we found ourselves acting out the fighting scenes between the Hobbits and the Orcs! It was way fun! We aren't exactly the easily excitable nor overly dramatic types so credits to him for being able to draw us out!
As we drove further up, we came to the filming location for X Men and again, out came the props and the fun started! He was really good with presenting these props. It wasn't boring like "ok, here are the props". There were always element of surprise (which I won't disclose here lest it spoils your surprise when you join the tour)!
Remember I said that my friend was not a fan? She did not watch the movies (LOTR and X Men) at all. However, that didn't turn out to be a problem because Adrian had this book with pictures from the movies. That really helped because there was nothing left of the film sets in these locations! The picture really helps you to visualise how it was. For a LOTR fan, that was heaven; imagining how it was. Lest you start to think that it was simply showing you the sites and fooling around with the props, it wasn't. We really got to hear more about what went on during the filming and questions were welcomed.
As the tour went on, we started talking more. It wasn't like what other reviewers said about their guides, who only wanted to talk about themselves. We really enjoyed the conversations, we got good tips from a local (sorry Adrian, if you are reading this, we didn't bungy jump), and since he studied plants, we learned about the Manuka plant and even got some leaves back to make tea! Wouldn't know all these from a guidebook, would we?
It was really a great tour. My friend, who was just accompanying me , said that it was the most fun one she's ever been on. That's saying a lot for a non-fan! Right after the tour, we ran into an Irish lady in the town centre. She was in the same Milford Sound tour with us the day before. She didn't have plans for that day and we immediately recommended her to join the Paradise Safari tour. This is definitely a tour that I will recommend to others!
Thank you Adrian and the Info&Track team :)
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