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Stephen Colbert's New Zealand visit cost Kiwi taxpayers $100k

Stephen Colbert’s New Zealand visit cost Kiwi taxpayers $100k

US talk show host Stephen Colbert’s visit to New Zealand cost Kiwi taxpayers just over $100,000.

The Late Show host was in New Zealand for six days last month, filming segments for an episode of the show that will air in late November.

Tourism New Zealand said while the CBS network had funded the majority of the production, it had covered the accommodation, some tourism experiences and meals for Colbert and 15 crew members.

The shoot required 13 extras, and their accommodation, food and drinks were also paid for by Tourism New Zealand.


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Tourism New Zealand‘s estimated total spend for hosting The Late Show was $104,000. Accommodation made up the majority of the cost, at $58,200, while another $19,100 was spent on attractions and activities.

The tourism agency also covered some production expenses, spending $14,500.

Domestic travel for Colbert and his crew, whose itinerary included Auckland, Wellington and Queenstown, cost $7,900.


Tourism New Zealand chief executive Stephen England-Hall said the idea for Colbert to visit New Zealand first came about in September 2018 ahead of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s appearance on his show during a scheduled visit to the US.

Tourism New Zealand was approached by NZTE to assist with sourcing a ‘gift’ for Colbert,” he said.

“We knew Colbert is a massive Hobbit fan, so we contacted Hobbiton who agreed to the idea of granting Colbert an ‘honorary Hobbiton citizenship’, including an invite to accept it in person.”

Colbert had been due to visit in March, but the visit was postponed following the March 15 Christchurch mosque shootings.

England-Hall said three Tourism New Zealand staff members had accompanied the production at different stages in New Zealand.

“We worked closely with the show’s writers to incorporate tourism messaging that we knew would appeal to the show’s predominantly US audience,” he said.


“This allowed us to add significant value to how New Zealand will be showcased as a visitor destination.”

Tourism New Zealand estimated a “significant return on investment” of $5 million in estimated advertising value from the visit and the upcoming episode.



Equivalent advertising value is calculated based on how much it would cost to buy the same “space” for advertising that the story about New Zealand takes up. 

“The USA market is really important as its one that is showing growth despite overall visitor arrival slowdown so it was huge win to get such big name like Colbert who has such a big following for such a small investment vs return to visit,” England-Hall said.

“The bonus is that Stephen has such a passion for New Zealand.”

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