What happened to the Lord Of The Rings merchandise in New Zealand?
September 19, 2019 10:10 PM   Subscribe

So we managed to find our way to New Zealand, but time was running tight at Hobbiton and we didn’t have time to pick up LotR gifts/etc. Unfortunately we missed the WETA workshops as well. Bizarrely we have not been able to find a single bit of merchandise in cities large and small throughout the rest of the country. Is this a licensing thing? Has the tourist industry just moved on? We’ve got Queenstown, Dunedin, and Christchurch left to go; is there any hope for us?
posted by Tell Me No Lies to Society & Culture (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Surprisingly, I found some pretty good stuff at the post office. Commemorative stamps, pins and envelopes. So try the local post office and ask. This was a while ago. But if you are in Sydney I do have LOTR stuff like unopened DVD box sets with statuary and flashing glass goblets (batteries required) and would provide to you.
posted by jadepearl at 10:29 PM on September 19, 2019

Yeah I think the tourism industry probably has moved on a bit. Also NZ maybe just isn't quite as into mass-produced merchandise as other countries. Tourism-wise, there's probably more of a trend toward locally made handicrafts as souvenirs, and none of those makers would be able to license LoTR content for use in their work.

But here's another strategy: try asking the people you meet if they have any good stories about the filming. It was an enormous production in a relatively small economy, so it really touched a lot of people's lives. I lived in Dunedin at the time, and even though I had no particular connection to the film industry, it seemed like everyone I knew had some tenuous or not-so-tenuous connection to the Lord of the Rings.

Lots of Otago University students were hired as extras. One of my friends was bussed out into the wilderness to be an Orc in a battle scene. (Sadly I was too short, yet also too tall to be a hobbit). Others managed water safety for the "You shall not pass!" scene, and had to have some stern conversations along the lines of "the river is rising and you need to finish this damn scene now, or your cameras will end up underwater". Someone else was commissioned to make identical earthenware pots to be smashed in a scene in Hobbiton that ultimately didn't make the cut.

Talk to people. You might not go home with fridge magnets and hats, but if you ask around and show genuine interest, you might go home with some really great stories. Think of it like your own personalised set of DVD extras.
posted by embrangled at 12:00 AM on September 20, 2019 [16 favorites]

That said, you will probably enjoy the Lord of the Rings store in Queenstown. The same company also does tours of filming locations.
posted by embrangled at 1:41 AM on September 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

Not to rub it in but I just went to WETA workshop and they had loads of LOTR things and the workshop was great.

My experience of gift stores here is they have lots of tea towels with pictures of birds and Whitaker’s for homesick Kiwis. And possum merino wool. Whitcoulls and Replay may have the odd LOTR trinket but not much.

I don’t know about Dunedin or Queenstown but I would expect much of Christchurch. I would say if there’s a dedicated store as Embrangled suggested grab with both hands.
posted by BAKERSFIELD! at 3:22 AM on September 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

I live in Wellington; the last time I saw lots of merchandise outside of the airport, Te Papa, and Weta Workshop store - no need to capitalise as it’s about a bug. it’s not an acronym - was several years ago during The Hobbit trilogy. Right now, it’s the end of winter, not quite spring. This is when tourism is at its lowest so the demand is minimal. And NZ is not super keen on hyper-commercialism.
posted by lemon_icing at 5:08 AM on September 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

Here’s something that most folks won’t have : The Hobbit trilogy commemorative stamps bottom of page.

Our local version of Amazon is called MightyApe and they have heaps of LoTR merchandise. If you can plan ahead, and because you’re going to be in popular cities, delivery is usually next day or two after ordering.

Enjoy the rest of your trip on the South Island.
posted by lemon_icing at 12:21 PM on September 20, 2019

Thanks all, the store in Queenstown covered it. The various LotR fans we left at home will probably let us back into the country now.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:20 AM on September 21, 2019

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