I found a few articles from the New Zealand press about episode 3 and they had some interesting information, so I thought I'd repost them here. First is an article that gives some behind the scene details about how Christchurch and the Canterbury region was chosen as a site for the episode. It has 4 pictures from the show, but I believe we have them already in the first page of this thread, so I won't repost them here.http://www.guardianonline.co.nz/news/millions-watch-mid-canterburys-amazing-race/Millions watch Mid Canterbury’s ‘Amazing Race’
A classic bit of Kiwi can-do attitude convinced the producers of The Amazing Race to film in Mid Canterbury last November.
The episode featuring the Rakaia Gorge and Mt Hutt Station screened in the United States yesterday afternoon to an audience of over 10 million viewers.
Experience Mid Canterbury general manager Nigel Birt yesterday revealed that the flexibility and generosity of the local farmers and tourism operators persuaded the American producers to base one episode around Methven.
True to the title of the programme, Mr Birt said that the locals had been “amazing” to accommodate all the last minute wishes of two high-profile Hollywood producers as they were driving and flying around the Mid Canterbury countryside.
Tourism New Zealand had secured the show as part of its international marketing programme to target overseas travellers.
Mr Birt had to act quickly as he only received 24 hours warning to put a proposal together for an unidentified reality TV show and when the producers from CBS arrived a few weeks later, he said he had to “think on his feet a bit” as the Americans tried to plan their story line around the Mid Canterbury landscape.
“They’ve got no idea what you’ve got to offer and when you show them some things, their needs will change and adapt rapidly and you then have to come up with other ideas.”
At that stage Mr Birt still did not know which show he was actually pitching for “but that became clear as the day went on. It was all a bit hush-hush”.
Mr Birt said all the locals were falling over themselves to help the Americans, which convinced them to choose the Ashburton District.
“The support from the community was huge,’’ said Mr Birt, who wanted to thank the numerous people in Mid Canterbury who were involved in the bidding process.
The show’s presenter Kiwi Phil Keoghan, who grew up in Lincoln, had been the key instigator behind the Canterbury episode after growing up in the Lincoln area and becoming Canterbury Tourism’s ambassador.
“I am very proud and, of course, very excited about letting people understand what makes Canterbury such a fantastic destination,” Mr Keoghan said.
Mr Birt was full of praise for Mr Keoghan’s initiative.
“Phil was keen to do something for Canterbury after the earthquake and help it get back on its feet. It was his initiative that made all this happen.”
The Guardian understands that several regions within Canterbury were invited to pitch for the programme to be filmed in their backyard before Mid Canterbury got the nod.
Mr Birt said the opportunities that the Rakaia Gorge had to offer and the possibility to do several activities in close proximity were the decisive factor for CBS to opt for Mid Canterbury.
“They had a very tight timeframe to work to.
“We needed to keep it compact and that’s where the gorge really suited. It had all the right ingredients, like the famers and tourism operators, complete with access tracks and incredible scenery to boot.’’
The Guardian understands from recent internet blogs the contestants flew into Christchurch from the previous stop in Tahiti, before racing quad bikes and rally cars.
Mr Keoghan himself posted about ‘the shemozzle’ at Mt Hutt Station, a rural-style combat course in which the contestants had to team up with a local shepherd and his dog while completing the course and transporting some eggs.
Like in every major operation, things did not all go as planned when the plane from Tahiti was delayed and the teams did not arrive until Sunday night, instead of Sunday morning.
The Guardian understands the contestants slept in 12 tents at the Rakaia Gorge before competing the next day and racing back to Christchurch on Monday afternoon for their next leg into Asia.
With over 140 rooms booked for the production staff involved and the art department buying everything they needed, the Methven economy received a massive boost according to locals the Guardian talked with in November.
Mr Birt, who hopes that many Americans and other nationalities will put Mid Canterbury on their wish-list, as the show and its repeats screen around the world.
“We have just showed Mid Canterbury’s landscapes and activities to tens of millions,” he said. “We could never buy that amount of exposure”.
A spokesperson for TVNZ said the Mid Canterbury episode is likely to air on our screens in over a year. TV2 is currently showing season 18, while CBS is already into season 22.
- Coen Lammers