Surge in New Zealanders visiting ‘Game of Thrones’ filming locations

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Dubrovnik stood in for King's Landing in the show.

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Dubrovnik stood in for King’s Landing in the show.

Being half a world away from Game of Thrones filming locations hasn’t stopped New Zealanders from joining the legions of fans from around the world flocking to them. 

Bookings to GoT locations have risen by 172 per cent since the fifth series of the show premiered in 2015, online travel agency Webjet said. 

The show’s popularity might not be the sole reason for the increase, but the tourism mania it has generated in the likes of Spain, Ireland, Croatia and Iceland almost certainly has something to do with it.  

Tourists preparing for a 'beheading' as part of the Winterfell experience at Castle Ward in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

CHARLES MCQUILLAN/GETTY

Tourists preparing for a ‘beheading’ as part of the Winterfell experience at Castle Ward in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Spain is the most popular GoT film locale for Kiwis, generating more than a third of bookings, the Australasian travel agency said.

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Filming locations in the country include the gardens of The Alcazar in Seville, which were transformed into the Water Gardens of Dorne; Plaza de Toros in Osuna, an old bullring which did a star turn as a gladiator arena; and the amphitheatre at Italica which served as a backdrop for scenes in the season seven finale.  

Dark Hedges in County Antrim, Northern Ireland provided the backdrop for the iconic Kingsroad.

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Dark Hedges in County Antrim, Northern Ireland provided the backdrop for the iconic Kingsroad.

Ireland, the real-life setting of Winterfell, generated 32 per cent of bookings and Scotland, where the pilot for the first season was filmed at Doune Castle, generated 22 per cent. 

Croatia is the fourth most popular GoT location for Kiwis – and also the fastest growing. Bookings to the country are up 305 per cent since 2015, Webjet said. 

Nearly half (48 per cent) of New Zealanders who travelled to the real-life Westeros between 2015 and 2019 were solo travellers, while 41 per cent travelled in couples, the research showed. 

Travellers aged 45-65 generated the highest volume of bookings, followed by 26- to 35-year-olds. Eighteen- 25-year-olds have been in catch-up mode since the season seven finale, filmed in Croatia’s Dubrovnik, and now represent the fastest growth segment. 

Webjet CEO OTA David Galt said: “As a huge Game of Thrones fan myself, it’s no surprise that people who share a love of the show are heading off in search of these dramatic and unique destinations. We’re expecting this epic travel trend to continue beyond the finale as excitement piques and GoT lovers look to continue the journey, seeking out their own iron thrones.”

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