Contributor to Fodor’s Travel New Zealand Guide

Visiting Hobbiton

Visiting Hobbiton

Mike Stearne


Welcome to! I am Mike Stearne, a tour guide based in Wellington, New Zealand. I own and operate Obsidian New Zealand, a luxury private tour company offering day trips in and around Wellington, longer nationwide tours and VIP private transfers and chauffeur driven car services for government, corporate and the entertainment industries.

Having worked as a professional tour guide for other companies since 2002, I started in 2013. Due to increasing demand for high-end personal services, I launched Obsidian New Zealand in 2017, which has allowed me to recruit a small team of drivers and tour guides to serve an ever-growing number of clients. I still spend as much time as possible personally driving and guiding tours, as I love the relationships and friendships I get to build along the way.

With my private tours, I’m able to tailor each tour to suit your needs and wishes during your time here. I also offer custom private tours of New Zealand for individuals, couples and small groups. Here too, we can write an itinerary to suit your specific needs and wants, and work within the time you have available for your trip to New Zealand.


A New Zealand native, I grew up in Otautau, a small town of about 800 people in Southland. I moved to Queenstown when I was 19, and although it’s only 2 hours from where I grew up, Queenstown is a different world, also known as the Adventure Capital of New Zealand. I did a short stint in Australia, living in both Sydney and Melbourne for a while, before returning to New Zealand.

In 1999 I was fortunate to work as an extra on The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. I am a huge fan of J.R.R. Tolkien’s books, and it was such an exciting opportunity to be involved in this epic trilogy. I played an Uruk-Hai – one of Saruman’s orc soldiers, who fought at the end of the film in a place called Amon Hen. I didn’t know it at the time but this was the catalyst for me starting a career as a tour guide – one who gets to share my love of The Lord of the Rings on a regular basis.

My life as a tour guide began in Queenstown in 2002, where I first worked as a 4×4 tour guide for Nomad Safaris, showing off some of the world’s most beautiful scenery to visitors, including Lord of the Rings filming locations and historic gold mining settlements. When I moved to Wellington in 2010, I worked for a couple of local day tour companies, before setting out on my own and forming Mike the Guide.

If you book a tour or any service with me as MiketheGuide, correspondence may come from Obsidian New Zealand, as my booking and accounting software is set up under that name.

disclaimer: All information given was correct at the time of writing. Some activities and prices change over time, or due to unforeseen circumstances. Please always reconfirm details with the operator/proprietor to avoid any disappointment or nasty surprises.

Tour Snapshot

Mike and (serious LOTR fan) Sarah
Mike and (serious LOTR fan) Sarah
Sarah was part of a group of 12 passionate LOTR fans I took on a 12 day tour of Middle-earth and Narnia filming locations, to coincide with the World Premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in November 2012.

LOTR Credentials

Ian Brodie, author of the official Hobbit Location Guidebook has very generously recommended me as the preferred guide for bespoke tours of Middle-earth filming locations in New Zealand.

We were introduced around the year 2000, when Ian was working on his bestselling The Lord of the Rings Location Guidebook. As we were both huge fans, we had an excellent time as I helped Ian pinpoint and photograph the filming locations around Queenstown. We became (and remain) great friends, and it’s been very exciting to watch Ian rise to the top of his profession as a film set photographer and film location author.


In November 1999, production of The Lord of the Rings trilogy moved to Queenstown. They had advertised a few months earlier for extras, and I was lucky enough to be cast as an Uruk-Hai in the Amon Hen battle scenes at end of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. I was a huge fan of the books and it was a great experience and honour to be able to say I was involved in the movies, even in this tiniest of ways. I was part of the army that killed Boromir and kidnapped Merry and Pippin.

Six days of shooting bought me about 15 seconds of screen time – where I look exactly like the other hundred Uruk-Hai running around on screen.

While I don’t have any aspirations as an actor, I’ve also worked as an extra in Mortal Engines, and the Avatar series.

I’m an an unashamed LOTR and film geek and fan boy. As well as being an extra in the first film, I travelled to Wellington from Queenstown for the red carpet parade for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King world premiere. I was lucky enough to attend The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey world premiere, and a special Wellington premiere screening of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. I LOVE being able to visit LOTR and Hobbit filming locations all over New Zealand with fellow fans, and I still try to read Tolkien’s books and watch the Peter Jackson films when I can.