New Zealand like ‘some other planet’: Bryce Dal­las Howard

The Hamilton Spectator - - TRAVEL - NICK PERRY

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.

NEW ZEALAND VIA AP

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.

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