I am Mike Stearne, a tour guide currently living and working in Wellington, New Zealand. I run Private Wellington Day Tours, taking care of you during your time in our Capital City. 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. Again, we can write an itinerary to suit your specific needs and wants, and work to the time you have available for your trip to New Zealand. When you get here, I act as your personal chauffeur, Tour Guide, driver and local friend and travel companion.
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.
Due to the amazing growth of Mike the Guide, I started a business called Obsidian New Zealand, which offers VIP car and chauffeur services alongside the type of tours I’ve been offering here all along. It allows me to use only the best drives and tour guides who meet the same standards I expect of myself.
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.
Experienced. I’ve been a tour guide in New Zealand since 2002.
Personal. I’m your point of contact from your initial enquiry and I’m your driver/guide once you get here.
- Exclusive. It’s just you (or your group/client) and me.
We were introduced over 10 years ago when Ian began 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.
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.