NZ Movie Locations for International Students in New Zealand to Visit
These are nine of the most recognisable places to visit that can be seen in some of the biggest movies to have been filmed on our shores.
Putarangirua Pinnacles, Cape Palliser – Lord of the Rings – Return of the King, Dimholt Road
Bring your walking shoes to visit this Middle Earth destination in the greater Wellington region. This 2-4hr walk is 2.5km long and can be done in two parts. One walk takes you onto a ridge overlooking the pinnacles and the other takes you meandering through the pinnacles/hoodoos. We recommend taking each path to fully enjoy the experience. The pinnacles were formed and shaped by a receding ocean and over the past 100,000 years have been further shaped by wind and rain, exposing just the harder base rock and stripping away the softer layers. The total ascent to the lookout is 270m and the pinnacles are located 13km along Cape Palliser Road from the Lake Ferry turn-off. Lord of the Rings fans will easily recognise the rocky landscape as Dimholt Road in Return of the King.
Castle Hill/Flock Hill, Canterbury – Chronicles of Narnia - The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe, The final battle
This spectacular and distinctive place is most noteworthy for the large limestone and rock formations that remain from when NZ was covered by the sea some 30-40 million years ago. The area is classified as a conservation area and known as Kura Tāwhiti (“the treasure from a distant land”, which referred to the kumara that once were in abundance to the area) by Ngai Tahu, the principal Māori iwi of the South Island. Scenes for the film the Chronicles of Narnia - The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe were shot nearby, a 10 minute drive North, at Flock Hill, and the distinctive stones (called a ‘karst landscape’) at Castle Hill and Flock Hill can be seen throughout the final battle sequence of the film, as Peter and Aslan’s army clashes with the White Witch and her minions. The area is known as a popular mountain-biking, hiking and boulder climbing spot.
Kaitoke Regional Park, Upper Hutt – Lord of the Rings, Rivendell
Explore Rivendell, the Elvish town created by J.R.R Tolkien and recreated in the Lord of the Rings movies using CGI and parts of this Regional Park. Its a great place to camp for the night before discovering the filming areas and numerous walks in the area by day. The best part? Kaitoke Regional park is just a 45-minute drive from Wellington City. Once there, simply follow the signs to Rivendell - study the Rivendell set-map, marvel at the replica Elven archway and take a picture with the character height marker pole.
Milford Sound, Fiordland – Alien: Covenant, Unknown planet
The beautiful and eye-catching sights of Milford Sound are on display for any horror fan that watches the fifth instalment of the Alien franchise. The many waterfalls, lush scenery and towering mountains of Fiordland are the backdrop of a ‘paradise’ that the crew land in, before they quickly discover that aliens are lurking in the shadows. Luckily for us, the aliens are just part of the movie and Fiordland is well worth exploring without worrying about anything leaping out to get you!
Hauraki Gulf, Auckland – The Meg, Megalodon vs Whale
Just to clarify, megalodon’s are extinct and don’t live in the water’s off Auckland’s coast. Also, the odds of seeing a shark in the Hauraki gulf are almost none, however, you are almost certain to see whales (22 species of whales and dolphins) if you know where and when to look! In the film the shark and the whale are both CGI, but all the backdrops aren’t!
The Cape Campbell lighthouse, Marlborough - The Light Between Oceans, The Lighthouse
This 2016 film is a romantic drama that was based on the 2012 Australian historical fiction novel by M. L. Stedman. Most of the filming took place between Australia and New Zealand, with all the lighthouse shots in the movie showcasing the Cape Campbell lighthouse in Marlborough. Take a trip to visit this iconic lighthouse, built in the 1870’s, automated since the 1980’s and with a fur seal colony located nearby. Stay the night at the experience Cape Campbell housing options nearby.
Paradise Valley, Queenstown – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Beorn’s House (also Wolverine, The Chronicles of Narnia & Pete’s Dragon)
Queenstown is an essential stop on any South Island tour. This amazing location has been seen in numerous films across the years and is a favourite among directors. Most recently it was used in the second Hobbit film as the location of Beorn’s House and provides a stunning backdrop to the scene.
Redwood forest, Rotorua – Pete’s Dragon
The film ‘Pete’s Dragon’ offers viewers spectacular views of Redwood forest in Rotorua from both the sky and land. Most of the forest scenes you see in the movie were shot here as the forest is home to California Redwoods, a perfect way to represent the American location of the film. We recommend the Rotorua treewalk, a great way to get a view of the forest the way Elliot the dragon would’ve seen it.
Oreti Beach, Invercargill – The World’s Fastest Indian
This film is about Kiwi motorcyclist and motorsport pioneer Burt Munro, who still holds the record for the fastest under 1,000cc world record and the fastest-ever recorded speed on an Indian motorcycle, which he built and maintained himself. The actual beach that he practiced and fine-tuned his record-setting runs on was used throughout the film. Its 26 kilometres of smooth sand ideal for Burt Munro and for the film crew as well. Burt’s NZ Open Beach record for 1,050cc of 132mph was set in 1957 and still stands to this day. Every year the Burt Munro Challenge is held on the beach, in honour of NZ’s motorbike speed pioneer.
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