New Zealand movie locations
In the last 10-15 years New Zealand has made its mark as a great location for filming the latest blockbuster movie. With diverse and stunning scenery and everything from mountains to beaches to snow to lakes and forests, it’s the perfect place for any setting that is required. The best part is once the movie has had its time on the big screen and made its way to clearance bin at your local store you can still visit some of the infamous sites from the films and bring them back to life.
The first movies that really put New Zealand on the map were Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy. They created a whole new wave of fans that loved the fantasy stories of hobbits, elves and giant battles. The story was then added to when the Hobbit movies were filmed in New Zealand as well.
In a small rural town called Matamata you can find the town of Hobbiton where the hobbits lived. You can take a tour around the farm and see the hobbit houses nestled into the side of the hill, as well as The Green Dragon Inn, The Mill, double arched bridge and other structures and gardens built for the film.
Way back in the year 2000 Tongariro National Park transformed itself into the dreaded Mordor, the strong hold of Dark Lord Sauron from the Lord of the rings films. The eerie barren landscape with jagged volcanic rocks was the ideal setting. The Tongariro crossing is a 19.4km walk that winds across this dramatic, awe-inspiring natural scenery. The path makes its way past Mount Ngauruhoe which was used as Mount Doom. If you are feeling fit and well prepared you can climb the steep 45 degree slopes and peer into the crater. But make sure you are prepared as weather conditions can change suddenly. I have had first had experience of this and have learnt my lesson.
In 2005 director Andrew Adamson filmed nearly the entire first part of The Chronicles of Narnia in New Zealand. There were several locations in the North and South Islands used for different parts of the film including Woodhill Forrest as the White witches camp and the limestone formations at Elephant’s Rocks in North Otago. My Favorite because it is such a stunning location is Cathedral Cove. It is located on the Coromandel Peninsula at Hahei. Once you park up you take a 45 minute walk with beautiful views over the coast line down to the beach where the cave is located. Once there the water will look so inviting you will have to take a dip (if its summer, you have to be quite brave to swim in winter). The other option is to kayak around the coast line.
Canterbury – The Great Battle
If you are looking for a more action packed scene location from the Narnia films then Flock Hill Station in Northern Canterbury is the place to check out. This was the setting for the dramatic final battle between Aslan’s forces and the White Witch Army. The Southern Alps were the ideal backdrop for the fearsome battle that raged on. The bad news is this beautiful setting is on private land, the good news is tours are available in conjunction with Flock Hill Station.
Seen as you are in the neighborhood, you might as well stop in and see Cave Scenic Reserve by Broken River. The karst topography of limestone rocks seen from here is typical of the landscape that is displayed in Narnia.
The Last Samurai
The Last Samuri is a film based in Japan, but strangely enough, film makers used areas of the Taranaki region for filming. Much of the filming was done on the hillsides of the Uruti Valley, which was then remodeled slightly to imitate Japanese rural life in the 1860’s. The most climbed mountain in New Zealand, Mount Taranaki was used as a stunt double for Mount Fujiyama and put on an impressive performance.