I am Mike Stearne, a tour guide currently living and working in Wellington, New Zealand. I own and operate MiketheGuide.com, offering custom private tours of New Zealand for individuals, couples and small groups. When not hosting clients on Private New Zealand tours, I also offer Private Wellington Day Tours, tailoring each trip to the client’s specific tastes and interests.
A New Zealand native, I grew up in a small town of about 800 people in Southland called Otautau, before moving to Queenstown when I was 19. 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.
I’m married to Nicole, an American girl who I met on a Lord of the Rings tour in 2004. We married in Portland, Oregon in August 2012 and try to get back to the Pacific Northwest whenever we can. Nicole is a great musician, take a look at her site.
In 1999 I was fortunate to spend a week working as an extra on The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. I was a huge fan of J.R.R. Tolkien’s books as a teenager 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 for Nomad Safaris. There I got to drive Land Rover Defenders through mud, dust and water every day, showing off some of the world’s most beautiful scenery to visitors, including more Lord of the Rings filming locations and historic gold mining settlements. I was bitten by the guiding bug and decided that this is the industry I belong in. Not only do I get to share and show off my beautiful country every day, but I meet amazing people and learn as much as I teach while on the road.
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.