The Greatest Films Shot in New Zealand

The Greatest Films Shot in New Zealand

New Zealand is home to some of the most beautiful natural locations on the planet, and the cities are also known for being among the world’s most stunning. 

Some of cinema’s best films have been shot in New Zealand, but aren’t just attracted to film in the country because of the diverse range of scenery locations that look amazing in various film genres. 

For several years, a scheme backed by the New Zealand government promised a cash rebate of 20% of any shoot’s production expenditure, which is carried out in New Zealand, provided the filmmakers fulfil a certain criteria. 

Let’s dive straight in to discover some of the greatest ever films shot on location in New Zealand, some of which you will already be familiar with by now, and others will be exciting new gems that may have slipped under your radar and are well worth checking out. 

Lesser-known films that were shot in New Zealand

We can start by taking a look at some lesser-known films that were shot in New Zealand. 

  • Bad Taste – a cult classic gory horror film released in 1987
  • The Quiet Earth – a drama/mystery/sci-fi film that was released in 1985
  • Goodbye Pork Pie – an action/adventure/comedy/crime film released in 1980
  • Whale Rider – a family/drama film released in 2002
  • Heavenly Creatures – a biography/crime/drama/thriller released in 1994
  • Boy – a comedy/drama film released in 2010
  • The Dark Horse – a biography/drama film released in 2014

Some of these films were written, directed, and produced by relative unknowns, whereas others were brought to you by the minds of people like Peter Jackson. 

Honourable mentions

Another film shot in New Zealand was the 1985 adventure/comedy movie that some of you may have seen called Came a Hot Friday. It’s set in a post-war small town in New Zealand and follows the antics of two con men trying to run an illegal betting scam. 

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What are the most famous films ever shot in New Zealand?

Now that we have revealed the names of several lesser-known films shot in New Zealand, let’s look at some of the greatest films ever shot here, which many of you will already be familiar with by now. They include the following:

  • Avatar – 2009
  • Once Were Warriors – 1995
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring – 2001. In fact, Lord of the Rings – The Trilogy (2001-2003) was shot in New Zealand
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – 2012. In fact, The Hobbit Trilogy (2012 – 2014) was shot in New Zealand
  • The Piano – 1993
  • The World’s Fastest Indian – 2005 
  • Mission: Impossible: Fallout – 2018
  • Vertical Limit – 2000
  • Wolverine – 2009
  • The Last Samurai – 2003

Honourable mentions

The following films were also shot in New Zealand, including the 1988 film Mauri, the 2006 film Black Sheep, and the 2005 movie The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe: The Chronicles of Narnia. 

Others include Prince Caspian: The Chronicles of Narnia (2008), Without a Paddle (2004), Rainbow Warrior (2002), The Adventures of TinTin (2011), and King Kong (2005). 

Also, keep an eye out for Out of the Blue, The Lovely Bones, Bad Blood, Shaker Run, The Castle, The Bounty, Millie Lies Low, Under the Mountain, River Queen, and The Dark Horse, to name just a few.

Some of these movies also include scenes shot at filming locations outside New Zealand. However, many of these films were shot entirely on location in New Zealand. 

Are there any new films, television series, or adaptations made in New Zealand coming soon?

Yes. According to the New Zealand Film Commission, several new movies, television shows, and adaptations recently shot in New Zealand are coming soon. They include the hotly anticipated new Time Bandits, Minecraft, Chief of War, ASH, and Sweet Tooth (season 3). 

Where can I watch the greatest films ever filmed on location in New Zealand?

Most of the films shot in New Zealand mentioned on this page are now widely available to watch on various trusted streaming sites, like Amazon Prime, Netflix, Paramount+, Hulu, or Disney+. Others can be purchased in the DVD/Blu-ray disc format from Amazon. 

When all else fails, don’t forget to try YouTube, which sometimes has films up for you to watch.