7 Films to Experience the Best of New Zealand

7 Films to Experience the Best of New Zealand
New Zealand is a famous destination among filmmakers Photo Credit: Shutterstock

The New Zealand government has decided to keep its borders shut in 2021. Here are some movies to help you live your NZ dream

Aashna Dhiman
February 02 , 2021
05 Min Read

While travellers around the world wait patiently for some good news on international travel, the New Zealand government has asked fellow backpackers to wait a year more to take that flight to its picturesque north and south Islands. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has decided to continue restrictions on foreign arrivals (exempting their Australia air bubble) as the country enters the vaccination phase.

However, we don’t want you to cancel New Zealand from your bucketlist just yet. Instead, we would like you to take this time to revamp your “To-do Things in New Zealand” list with a creative twist – watch some movies. Yes, if you cannot take a flight, you can definitely take our suggestions and experience New Zealand from the comfort of your home. 


The Lord of Rings Trilogy (2001-2003)

The Edoras in the Lord of Rings was originally filmed in Mt Sunday in Canterbury
On the top of our list is Peter Jackson’s masterpiece. The trilogy not only introduced us to the fantasy world of Middle Earth but also put New Zealand on the list of stunning landscapes in the world. The early 2000s saga was filmed in several places including Mt Sunday in the Canterbury region which represented Edoras in the movie and the Putanigirua Pinnacles in Wellington where Legolas, Aragorn, and Gimli searched for the Army of the Undead. Taking the experience further are the green hills in the North Island that appear similar to The Shire, and the magnificent mountains in the South that mirrors the beauty of the Misty Mountains. 

The Hobbit Trilogy (2012 – 2014)

Talking about Middle Earth, and not mentioning The Hobbit by Jackson would be sacrilege. The films have more of New Zealand to see than you'd expect. The epic scene in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug where dwarves plunge down the river in barrels was filmed in the Pelorus river of the South Island. It was in Piopio where Bilbo Baggins (the unwilling hero) and the crew in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey had set up camp, were put on the spitroast by trolls, and later attacked by orcs. The dramatic chase between wargs and the company was the best shot in Twizel, the largest town in the south Island, and the scene where Bilbo left Rivendell and views of pretty waterfalls adorned the frame was brought to life in the Glenorchy valley of Otago.

Prince Caspian – The Chronicles of Narnia (2008)
The Coromandel Cove is one of the most-visited places in the country after the release of the Narnia series
Released after The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (2005), the mythical journey of children and fictional creatures gets more adventurous in the Prince Caspian as they struggle to dethrone the crooked King Miraz. Filmed in locations like Flock Hill in Canterbury, Purakaunui Bay in Otago, and Auckland city, the movie introduces us to the beauty that New Zealand is. The most stunning location of all is the Coromandel Cove near Hahei beach that was specifically chosen to represent the tunnel in the film, wherein the children would enter the arch before they get transported to Narnia.  

Wolverine (2009)
James’ cabin in the movie was built on the peak of the Deer Park Heights
The sci-fi and adventure thriller that introduced the cinema fanatics to the exciting story of the Marvel hero Wolverine (starring Huge Jackman) was filmed in the Otago region of the South Island. The secluded cabin owned by James in the movie was idealised and built on the peak of Deer Park Heights on the south of Queenstown. The place, similar to the movie opens to incredible views of the Remarkables mountains at the Otago. 

The Piano (1993)
Starring Holly Hunter and Anna Paquin, the 1993 feature film presented some of the finest views of Auckland city and its neighboring countryside. Directed by Jane Campion, the film narrates the story of a mute woman who has been sent to New Zealand for an arranged marriage. Set in the mid-19th century, the story takes viewers on a journey through the lush green forests of North Island in New Zealand, and let them soak in the breathtaking views of Karekare and Piha beach that they are unlikely to ever forget.

Mauri (1988)
The Maori culture is traditional to New Zealand
Having grown up in a traditional Maori setting in New Zealand, director Merata Mita envisioned a film based out of her community that effectively portrayed issues like racism and rights in the village. Not only did the film become an important element in the political history of New Zealand, but it also received appreciation for being the second feature film made by a female director in the country. Filmed in the remotest East Cape area in a Maori village with an impressive aerial scene at the end, Mauri presents viewers an insight into the untouched beauty of New Zealand that they are most likely to miss out on their usual touristy getaways.

Once Were Warriors (1994)
The 1994 drama explores the struggles of traditional Mauri family in the urban setting
Want to experience New Zealand from the eye of an urban Maori family? Adapted from the famous book Once Were Warriors by Alan Duff, the film cautiously explores social issues faced by village folks as they get encroached upon by western influences. The film is largely premised in Otara, Auckland. 

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