Go Away With … Sean Astin

Actor Sean Astin encourages travelers to “look up. It might sound like a simple thing to say, but don’t have your face in a map or your phone or your stuff. I think most people get to wherever they think they need to get to and then they look up.”

New Zealand, “Lord of the Rings” and me

True story. A decade or so ago, when I was on the New Zealand set of “The Lord of the Rings,” someone accidentally spilled grape juice all over me, dousing my pants and turtleneck. There wasn’t enough time to go back to my hotel to change. So, they let me wear one of Liv Tyler’s outfits.

“The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers”

You’d think that tacking on an additional 43 minutes to the three-hour movie would be overkill. But the extended version actually feels shorter than the theatrical release — possibly because it tells a more thorough story. “Two Towers” continues where “The Fellowship of the Ring” left off. With the Fellowship splintered into two groups, Frodo and Sam head for Mordor to destroy the Ring.

Cuba Quarter

The “Lord of the Rings” crew may have left New Zealand, but Wellington hasn’t lost its buzz – particularly not the city’s Cuba Quarter. Located adjacent to the financial district, the nabe is home to funky boutiques, cafés and some crazy nightlife.

‘Rings’ spotlights other Down Under

For decades, the joke around Wellington was that Americans only knew of New Zealand as “that place by Australia.” But thanks to “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, which was filmed in Wellington–New Zealand’s capital–the country is stepping out of Australia’s shadow.