Calling all film buffs! Since the release of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, New Zealand has been home to several major film productions. Filmmakers have been able to portray incredible worlds onscreen, partly to the country’s unique, breathtaking topography. A trip to seven of the following New Zealand film locations and fabulous nearby hotels should please cinephiles and casual moviegoers, as well as those interested in seeing some of the most remarkable settings of New Zealand.
Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogies
Both of these trilogies were filmed entirely in New Zealand. The New Zealand landscape, with its beautiful foliage and tremendous mountain ranges, is an integral part of the Lord of the Rings movies, so much so that the success of the films spawned Hobbiton in Rotorua, where visitors can roam through an actual Hobbit Hole used in filming. Filming locations from both of these trilogies took place on the North and South Islands. Visiting Glenorchy (the setting for Lothlorien), Lake Pukaki (Laketown), and everywhere in between should please hobbits at heart, who will likely be awed at the sight of seeing the majestic natural features from the movies in person.
Located in Rotorua, The Treetops Lodge and Estate is a paradise for nature lovers, nestled in an 800-year-old forest. It’s surrounded by 35 miles of hiking trails, as well as rivers, lakes, and waterfalls. Visitors can also travel by helicopter to live volcanoes. Book Your Room
2. Pete’s Dragon
In the 2016 reboot of this 1977 Disney film, Tapanui on the South Island substituted for the American northwest town of Millhaven. The Blue Mountain lumber mill can be seen prominently in the film, as well as the town’s main streets. Filming also took place around Wellington, as well as the Rotorua’s enchanting redwood forest, which served as the home of Elliot. Mount Victoria, a New Zealand filming location also featured in the Lord of the Rings, was also used for some forest scenes.
Experience Victorian charm and natural solitude at this bed and breakfast, nestled on ten acres overlooking the river valley and the Blue Mountains. Classic Kiwi continental breakfasts are available, and there’s exclusive access to the Pomohaka River for trout and salmon fishing. Book Your Room at The Mainholm Country Lodge
3. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian
Loved by children of all ages, this world of fauns, satyrs, and centaurs was brought to the big screen by New Zealand director Andrew Adamson with his 2005 adaptation of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe which became the 41st highest-grossing film of all time.
Since then, there have been two more Narnia films – Prince Caspian (2008) and also directed by Adamson, and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010)
Beaches, forests, and national parks provided key filming locations for the first two movies in The Chronicles of Narnia film series. Cathedral Cove, where the Pevensie children discover the destroyed Cair Paravel, lies on the beautiful Coromandel Peninsula. In real life, this region is a thriving hub for art, fishing, and water sports, and frequently visited by New Zealanders on holiday.
Located right on the peninsula, this self-proclaimed rainforest retreat features several hotel amenities, in addition to a wide range of activities perfect for individuals and families. Visitors can hike one of the many trails, relax in natural hot springs and swimming holes, participate in bone-carvings inspired by the indigenous peoples of New Zealand. Book your room
Tom Cruise visited the South Island of New Zealand in July of 2017 to film a helicopter stunt essential to the climax of the movie. Filming took place in the region of Queenstown, the national capital for thrill-seeking activities, including paragliding, mountain biking, and bungy-jumping, which was invented here.
The Spire Hotel is famous for the luxury it strives to provide guests in all aspects of their stay. Being comprised of only ten suites allows the staff members to dedicate extra attention to the guest experience. The staff is also extremely capable at recommending activities to do in nearby Queenstown and can create a custom itinerary for people of all ages and interests. Book Your Room.
5. Alien: Covenant
Milford Sound was predominantly featured in this 2017 film. Due to the creepy atmosphere of the movie, in which astronauts crash-land on an Earth-like planet inhabited by hostile aliens, Milford Sound may appear unrecognizable to the casual observer. During production, the actual Covenant ship was brought in, and the environment lit so as to simulate the dramatic and creepy extraterrestrial environment director Ridley Scott wanted. It is this combination of the real prop placed in the spectacular location that the actors say strengthened their performance.
Director Sir Ridley Scott’s desire for realism and scale was something that excited special effects supervisor Neil Corbould. “Ridley’s a very visual director, and he loves his atmosphere.”
The Milford Sound Lodge offers a wide range of accommodation options, from chalets to campervan parking. The facility can arrange everything from boat trips to walking tours to help all visitors enjoy one of New Zealand’s most beautiful areas, in a country that’s full of them. Book your room.
6. A Wrinkle in Time
This 2018 Ava DuVernay blockbuster starred a trifecta of A-listers — Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, and Mindy Kaling, and the cast and crew made their home in Wanaka during a portion of filming. Nestled in the Otago region, which is famous for its wines, Wanaka is considered the less-commercial alternative to Queenstown. This is meant as a compliment – the city is still a busy tourist destination, with plenty of activities to do year-round, including skiing, wakeboarding, sailing, and kayaking.
Where to stay at this New Zealand Film Location: Edgewater
The Edgewater provides the only accommodation directly on Wanaka’s signature lake. This hotel offers three types of rooms to meet any accommodation need. The facility’s ideal location has made it a top destination for conferences and weddings. Edgewater also serves to facilitate a host of outdoor activities for guests throughout the year, including skiing packages and wine tours. Book Your Room.
Still the highest grossing film of all time, a substantial portion of Avatar was filmed at Stone Street Studios in Wellington, New Zealand. Weta Digital, also based in Wellington, produced much of the visual effects. The company has had a hand in some of the biggest blockbusters of the past ten years, including District 9, Man of Steel, and many Marvel films.
Where to stay at this New Zealand Film Location: QT Museum
Travelers should find no shortages of places to stay in the capital city of New Zealand. QT Museum distinguishes itself by providing a unique cultural experience, immersing guests in highbrow and lowbrow art pieces that decorate its rooms. Boldly designed, with views of the Wellington Harbor, this is a place that takes the culture and moderate bohemian vibe of the city and condenses it into four walls – a true hotel for the thinking traveler. Book Your Room.