Cinema is a source of inspiration and entertainment for millions of people across the globe. We have all become crazy about a movie at least once in our lives and dreamt of visiting the iconic, dazzling locations that are featured in it.
New Zealand is one of the countries that attract many cinema fans from around the world. The unique and fascinating landscapes of this island country have been home to a series of cult films.
As a result, New Zealand stands high in the ranking of favourite destinations for cinema lovers.
If you love the seventh art as much as you love to travel, a visit to New Zealand is a must. In this article, you will find out about some of the must-see filming locations that any cinema fan should visit in New Zealand.
You will also find practical advice to prepare for your trip, including information about how to apply for your visa for New Zealand.
The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Trilogies
Tolkien Tourism is a big source of revenue for New Zealand. According to Tourism New Zealand, one-fifth of the tourists visiting New Zealand want to discover the country through the Tolkien lens. Fans are eager to visit the many film locations featuring in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, the two famous trilogies directed by Peter Jackson.
You can start your tour of the real-life Middle Earth by visiting the Hobbiton movie set, located in the densely forested Waikato region, not far away from Auckland, although there are more than 100 other film locations across the country, like the Putangirua Pinnacles (The Paths of the Death), or the Tongariro National Park (the main setting for the land of Mordor).
The Chronicles of Narnia
With its astonishing scenery and natural beauty, New Zealand was chosen as the set of yet another famous trilogy: The Chronicles of Narnia.
Cathedral Cove, with its iconic rock archway, is probably the most famous of all Narnia film locations, and the set for the ruins of the Cair Paravel Castle.
The area, situated a two-hour drive from Auckland, is known for its charming coves, white sand beaches and dense vegetation, but also for the delights of its gastronomy. There you can enjoy a wide range of shellfish and seafood products.
Kiwi Sir Peter Jackson also directed the remake of the horror classic King Kong. The district of Hutt Valley, in the city of Wellington, was recreated as a 1930s New York, and the Skull Island scenes were filmed in Lyall Bay, also in Wellington.
The city is also well-known for being home to Peter Jackson’s Stone Street Studio and to the Weta Workshop, where the special effects of other important films, like Avatar, the Lord of the Rings or The Legend of Zorro have been made.
The Disney movie Pete’s Dragon was filmed on both the North and South islands of New Zealand and features the sheer diversity of the country’s natural scenery.
From the sky-high Redwood forests in Rotorua, with their mod pools and shooting geysers to the towering mountains of Queenstown or the small town of Tapanui, you will feel the movie’s magic when you visit the area.
The breathtaking Karekare beach, in Auckland’s Waitakere Ranges, became worldwide famous in 1993 thanks to the award-winning Hollywood film The Piano, directed by kiwi Jane Campion.
This impressive natural spot, with its black, volcanic sand and the three streams converging in it, was the perfect location for the famous scene where Holly Hunter plays her piano in solitude.
Karekare beach (Maori for “Wild and Turbulent Waters”) is depicted in the film in a mysterious and tragic atmosphere, but it is actually one of the most stunning beaches in New Zealand and is located in the Waitakere Ranges, a national heritage park.
Prepare Your Trip Well in Advance
It’s maybe not the most exciting part of your trip, but practical details are important when planning a trip, especially if you are travelling to a distant destination like New Zealand.
Remember that all UK citizens must have a valid visa to enter New Zealand. Also, in some cases, you might also need to apply for a visa for Australia.
This can be the case if you are going to do a stopover in Australia and you want to leave the airport, or if your transfer is longer than 8 hours and you are not a national of the UK, the UE, or Switzerland, for instance.