Chopper tours film spots
Queenstown-based Heliworks and guiding firm Alpine Adventures have teamed up to offer a tour of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit locations. The Middle Earth tour is aimed at the luxury travel market and Heliworks is the only chopper firm permitted access to Earnslaw Burn, which featured in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Heliworks sales and business development manager Joey Glass said there was a noticeable trend for unique and exclusive excursions into New Zealand’s back country. ‘‘We’re noticing more and more demand from our clients as well as inbound tour operators for something that’s extra special,’’ she said. Alpine Adventures’ head guide Mark Dewsbery has cultivated an encyclopaedic knowledge of native flora and fauna during 26 years of high-country farming and exploring the back country on foot and skis. Alpine Adventures was started last year. Tolkien fans can now fly into the imaginary Anduin Valley of Middle Earth, which was filmed at Earnslaw Burn. ‘‘My clients are looking for an adventure they can’t do on their own, that takes them to those untouched places and are a little hard to get to. They want to see our incredible country in a way that’s memorable and also very authentic,’’ said Mr Dewsbery. Although the tour takes place on a public trail, it is rare to see other hikers as the track from Glenorchy is long and can be hard to find in places. The Department of Conservation recommends only very experienced hikers with route finding and survival skills attempt the track without a guide due to several river crossings.
Top flight: A Heliworks helicopter at Mt Nicholas Station.