New Zealand like ‘some other planet’: Bryce Dallas Howard
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND — Actress Bryce Dallas Howard says her enthusiasm for New Zealand hasn’t dimmed since she first visited at age 5 and was so stunned by the scenery she felt like she’d arrived on another planet.
Howard began a campaign in July to promote the South Pacific nation as a tourist destination to Americans and Canadians. She first visited New Zealand when her father Ron Howard was directing the 1988 movie “Willow.”
She said her home city of Los Angeles was smog-ridden at the time.
“We arrived at night, in Queenstown, and I’ll never forget this: I woke up, and there were these huge, huge windows in the house where we were staying. I looked out, and it was as if I’d stepped into a portal, or been transported to some other planet. It was like a Utopian version of Earth.”
She said she’d never seen such stunning mountains and fields, oceans and forests, and the experience opened her up to a world beyond her family’s life in the suburb of Encino.
Howard, who starred in “The Help” and “Jurassic World,” spent four or five months in New Zealand more recently while working on the fantasy-adventure “Pete’s Dragon,” released last year.
She told The Associated Press in a recent interview that filming the movie was a magical time for her because so much of it was shot outdoors. She visited a number of towns and saw everything from farm shows to ancient kauri trees.
Howard’s tourism campaign features videos shot by National Geographic Travel focusing on things like food, hiking and city life. Organized by Tourism New Zealand and funded by the nation’s government, the campaign cost about 2 million New Zealand dollars ($1.5 million).
Tourism is growing in New Zealand, and last year overtook dairy as the nation’s top earner of overseas dollars, with the most tourists coming from Australia, followed by China and then the U.S.
The surge has placed a strain on some services and towns, and upset some residents. In one recent survey, 21 per cent of New Zealanders said they thought there were too many tourists, up from 13 per cent in 2015.
Howard said two of her favourite places were the capital city, Wellington, because of its vibrant markets and community of hipsters and entrepreneurs; and the relaxed beach town Mount Maunganui.
Bryce Dallas Howard enjoys a kayak trip down the Dart River in New Zealand. Howard says her enthusiasm for New Zealand hasn’t dimmed since she first visited at age 5.