Tourism NZ spent $100k on Colbert trip

Taxpayers forked out more than $100,000 for late-night talk show host Stephen Colbert and his crew while they were in New Zealand last month.

But Tourism New Zealand is expecting a "significant return on investment" of $5 million in estimated advertising value from Colbert's trip.

The talk show host, and Lord of the Rings fanatic, was in New Zealand for six days in October filming The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, which averages three million views an episode.

A spokesman for Tourism NZ 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.

At the time, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise approached Tourism NZ to assist with sourcing a gift for Colbert.

"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."

An invitation it appears Colbert accepted.

Although CBS, the network which produces The Late Show, funded the majority of the production, Tourism NZ covered accommodation ($58,200), domestic travel ($7900) and some production expenses ($14,500).

It also stumped up just over $19,000 for "attractions and activities".

There were 16 crew, not including Colbert, on the trip.

Colbert was meant to visit in New Zealand in March, Tourism NZ said.

But after the March 15 terror attack in Christchurch, the Prime Minister's Office, Tourism New Zealand and CBS all agreed that the visit should be postponed until later in the year.

The show featuring Colbert in New Zealand is scheduled to air in late November.

While Colbert was in the country, he caught up with Ardern in Auckland.

At the time, he tweeted a selfie with Ardern with the caption: "Just hanging out in Auckland with the PM. "She appointed me president of New Zealand ... I think. I'm pretty jet-lagged."

The pair were spotted filming at Kind Cafe and Eatery in Morningside.

Colbert had said on his show that Ardern had a "special place in my heart" after inviting him to New Zealand last year.

She has been on his show twice.