New Zealand’s cinematic history showcases the country’s incredible natural landscapes, and feature some of the world’s most-loved actors, including Sam Neil, Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Orlando Bloom, Hugh Jackman, Taika Waititi and Elijah Wood. So, here’s what to watch while on a trip to NZ.
It’s not hard to guess the first 6… The Lord of the Rings & Hobbit trilogies basically introduced New Zealand to the world. Never before had people been SO curious about the incredible landscapes and filming sites throughout the country.
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring 2001 (Rated 8.8/10 on IMDb)
“The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is a 2001 epic high fantasy film directed by Peter Jackson based on the first volume of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Set in Middle-earth, the story tells of the Dark Lord Sauron, who is seeking the One Ring. The Ring has found its way to the young hobbit Frodo Baggins. The fate of Middle-earth hangs in the balance as Frodo and eight companions begin their journey to Mount Doom – the only place where the Ring can be destroyed.”
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers 2002 (Rated 8.8/10 on IMDb)
Continuing the plot of The Fellowship of the Ring, Sam and Frodo continue to Mount Doom where they meet Gollum, while the others begin fighting at the Battle of Helm’s Deep before planning an attack on Isengard.
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King 2003 (Rated 8.9/10 on IMDb)
The last of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, this film brings all of the plots together – do Sam and Frodo get to Mount Doom? Who claims the throne of Gondor?
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey 2012 (Rated 8/10 on IMDb)
This story is set in Middle Earth, sixty years before the The Lord of the Rings trilogies, around the adventurous tale of Bilbo Baggins – Frodo’s “uncle”.
“A reluctant hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, sets out to the Lonely Mountain with a spirited group of dwarves to reclaim their mountain home – and the gold within it – from the dragon Smaug.”
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug 2013 (Rated 8/10 on IMDb)
“The dwarves, along with Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf the Grey, continue their quest to reclaim Erebor, their homeland, from Smaug. Bilbo Baggins is in possession of a mysterious and magical ring.”
The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies 2014 (Rated 7.6/10 on IMDb)
“Bilbo and Company are forced to engage in a war against an array of combatants and keep the Lonely Mountain from falling into the hands of a rising darkness.”
Hunt for the Wilderpeople 2016 (Rated 8.4/10 on IMDb)
Based on ‘Wild Pork and Watercress,’ Barry Crump’s book, this film is about a juvenile foster child who is left in the care of an odd Kiwi couple who live in the wild of the New Zealand bush. Starring Sam Neil (who I will forever love from Jurassic Park) and the hilarious Julian Dennison who I believe was undiscovered before this movie. After an odd turn of events the pair take off to live in the “magestical” bush and become wanted DOA (but mostly A).
King Kong 2005 (Rated 7.3/10 on IMDb)
A world known tale, King Kong is about a movie producer that takes his crew to the mysterious Skull Island during filming, only to discover Kong, a giant ape who becomes quickly smitten on one of the actresses.
Whale Rider 2002 (Rated 7.7/10 on IMDb)
Based on the novel by Witi Ihimaera, this award winning film is a “contemporary story of love, rejection and triumph as a young Maori girl fights to fulfil a destiny her grandfather refuses to recognise.”
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe 2005 (Rated 6.9/10 on IMDb)
“Based on The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, from C. S. Lewis’s, The Chronicles of Narnia” this film is about four children who find themselves transported into the world of Narnia after walking through an old wardrobe. Here they discover their destiny with the help of some magical creatures including a mystical Lion.
Boy 2010 (Rated 7.5/10 on IMDb)
“Set on the east coast of New Zealand in 1984, Boy, an 11-year-old child and devout Michael Jackson fan, gets a chance to know his absentee criminal father, who has returned to find a bag of money he buried years ago.”
Wolverine 2009 (Rated 6.6/10 on IMDb)
Wolverine, a well known mutant within the Marvel realm. In this film Wolverine heads to Japan to meet and old friend. He then gets caught up in a conspiracy involving yakuza and mutants. In 2008 the production moved to the South Island of New Zealand. Many scenes were filmed in Dunedin, as well as Queenstown and Glenorchy.
Vertical Limit 2000 (Rated 5.9/10 on IMDb)
Vertical Limit is an American survival thriller film. The story follows a brother who must mountain-climb up to the top of K2 (one of the world’s biggest mountains), to save his sister who is trapped within an ice cave.
The Last Samurai 2003 (Rated 7.7/10 on IMDb)
Starring Tom Cruise, The Last Samurai is about an American military advisor who is captured during battle. He then goes on to embrace the Samurai culture that he was originally hired to destroy. The Taranaki region featured as Japan throughout this film.
The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep 2007 (Rated 6.4/10 on IMDb)
This is the story of a lonely boy who discovers a mysterious egg that hatches the sea creature of a Scottish Legend. Though the film appears to be set in the Loch areas of Scotland, it was actually filmed in Glenorchy on the South Island!