It might cost millions in CGI money to make your movie set look like a place out of a fairytale but sometimes you just have to find the right location. You see, this is one thing that sets New Zealand apart from so many other places. It’s hard to find a country where more iconic movie scenes were filmed. Filming a movie in New Zealand is not just a way to ensure that your visuals are iconic... It’s more than that, your cast and crew also have the chance to have the time of their life during filming!
Needless to say, you can get to experience some of this movie magic by visiting the locations where these iconic movie scenes were filmed. Based on your taste in movies and your predisposition towards certain landscapes, you can make a specific visit to a single location, or why not go for a complete movie tour and pay a visit to as many of these movie locations as possible. Speaking of which, here are some areas that I think are a must visit on a movie location tour around New Zealand.
Movie Locations New Zealand
1. The Lord of the Rings
Perhaps the most iconic movie ever filmed in New Zealand is Peter Jackson’s marvel The Lord of the Rings trilogy. This gigantic piece was filmed back to back in New Zealand and contains all the most iconic locations, landscapes and areas from the movie. However, the place that people are most interested in seeing is the amazing Hobbiton movie set. In fact, Hobbiton is a place of such significance that travel agencies like Back to Nature Tours include it in their standard tour route. This tour is a little over five hours and it starts from Port Tauranga.
Other than this, there are other places that you might want to visit, as well. For instance, the stunning Tongariro National park served as a filming location for The land of Mordor scenes, while Mount Sunday served as Edoras. The woods around Wellington (which we’ll mention once more on this list), served as a setting for several different scenes. For instance, it was the place where the scene in which the Hobbits hide under the tree while running from the Nazgul. All in all, each of these locations is more than deserving of a photo session.
2. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
Another great fantasy hit filmed in New Zealand was the second installment of The Chronicles of Narnia. While this movie was not as great of a commercial success as its predecessor, some of its amazing scenery, like Cathedral Cove, managed to enchant big screen audiences all over the globe. The beach itself is an incredibly beautiful and secluded spot. However, its best feature is probably the proximity to Auckland, which you probably planned to visit either way. So, why not get the most out of your journey?
3. Mission Impossible
As fate would have it, Tom Cruise will make another return to the islands in order to film his Mission Impossible 6: Fallout. The bulk of the shooting has taken place in Central Otago and the locations of the filming have taken places in the vicinity of Dunedin (about a 4-hours long drive away). For those who decide to travel from Queenstown, the set is even closer.
4. The Last Samurai
When choosing a location for a fantasy movie, you have the freedom to pick any place that fits your concept (as we’ve already mentioned in the previous section). However, even when filming a historical spectacle, you don’t actually need to film it on locations where a historical event actually took place. What you need is a place that looks close enough while not costing an arm and a leg. Not to mention that getting a permit may also be a major obstacle to overcome.
Moreover, you don’t really have to pick a landscape that fits what the original place looks like. Instead, it’s good enough that you find a place that meets the expectations of your audience. This is why a major Hollywood blockbuster The Last Samurai starring Tom Cruise, was, against all odds, filmed in New Zealand, rather than in Japan. The reason for this was the fact that Mount Taranaki closely resembles Mount Fuji in Japan, which allowed for this simple cinematic trick to work so flawlessly.
5. King Kong
After his major scenic success with The Lord of the Rings trilogy, it was in no way a surprise that Peter Jackson would return to his homeland of New Zealand once more. Namely, he did so for his remake of King Kong. This gives a completely different dimension to his decision of a filming location. You see other than returning out of nostalgia, he needed a place filled with primal beauty to act as a notorious Skull Island. He used Lyall Bay as a backdrop for the place, mostly due to its proximity to Wellington, which served as his headquarters throughout the filming process.
6. Alien Covenant
Another place that is known for its scenic background is the Sci-Fi/horror movie Alien: Covenant. While the film itself horribly underperformed at the office, one thing that no one took to criticizing was the choice of location. The filming took place at Milford Sound due to its incredible low-lying clouds that make the place look almost outwardly. For those who plan to start the journey from Te Anau in the South Island, the journey itself takes less than two hours and it gives you enough material to last you a lifetime.
Of course, the list goes on and on, which is why I've had to narrow it down only to the biggest, most famous Hollywood blockbusters. Other than this, you're bound to encounter a plethora of filming locations. Who knows, due to the fact that the popularity of New Zealand as a filming location doesn't seem to be diminishing, any amazing national park or landmark you decide to visit might soon become a location that you'll also get a chance to admire on the big screen. This is definitely a notion worth considering when going to New Zealand.
Author: I am Arlette Green a blogger into traveling and moving to the farthest places to explore the world and myself as well. I usually start blogging after I return from my self-planned tours to share my experiences and insights gained throughout the trip. Twitter