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Lord of the Rings

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NZ Film Locations by City


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exchange breaths in welcomeThe hongi is a traditional Maori greeting. Noses are pressed together and the ha, or breath of life, is exchanged and intermingled. The hongi is an integral part of the powhiri (welcoming ceremony).
image credit: James Heremaia






Vacations to film locations in New Zealand

There's nothing better than reality - let us design your wheelchair accessible vacation to visit one of New Zealand's many heart-stopping cinema landscapes.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy introduced New Zealand’s spectacular scenery to cinema screens around the world. Since then other movies like King Kong, The World’s Fastest Indian and The Chronicles of Narnia (The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe) are helping maintain New Zealand’s position as a world class filming location.

accessible vacations to film landscapes
The Southern Alps (above) stretch 550 km's from Blenheim to Fiordland were the obvious choice to portray the Misty Mountains in Lord of the Rings. Image credits: Peter Morath

handicapped travel to film locations
Known as Paradise, this film location was used to show the arrival of spring in Narnia. (The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe).
image credit Ian Brodie

We plan wheelchair accessible vacations to many of New Zealand's many famous film locations.

Lord of the Rings

King Kong

Chronicles of Narnia

River Queen

World's Fastest Indian


The much-awaited $200 million Peter Jackson version of ‘King Kong’ was shot in Wellington, Jackson's hometown and headquarters for his Camperdown Studios, which hold the sets for Skull Island and its jungle.
On a vacant lot in the Hutt Valley, just north of Wellington, Jackson recreated the 1930s downtown New York set- complete with Broadway, Times Square and Fifth Ave. Two of New Zealand's grandest theaters were also used to film scenes; the 90-year-old Opera House in Wellington, and the 75-year-old Civic Theater, in Queen St, the heart of downtown Auckland. The Civic opened in the era in which ‘King Kong’ is set, and the scene shot there was based around the unveiling of the giant ape to an incredulous New York audience.


The Wanganui River is New Zealand’s longest navigable waterway and is both the stage and backdrop for Kiwi director Vincent Ward’s film of a young woman's epic search for her lost son. The movie begins in the lower parts of the river, then moves upstream to the remote region between Pipiriki and Taumarunui, which is protected within the boundaries of Whanganui National Park. The film depiction of this untouched wilderness didn’t require special effects or retouching and in the film and in person you see is exactly how it is. The river that is also a road . The Maori people traveled up and down the river for centuries before the first Europeans began to explore the area. I50 years ago, the river was the only trading and transport route for settlers trying to establish homes and farms in the region; even today, most of the river’s length is still inaccessible by road.
Whether you have a day or a week, a journey down the Wanganui River offers a comfortable level of challenge, adventure and freedom. A kayak or canoe is the vehicle of choice for many people; others opt for a jet boat tour. Hiking is another way to immerse yourself in the river/forest environment.

A special feature of the river journey, the 'Bridge to Nowhere' serves as a memorial to the tenacity of World War One soldiers who tried to farm the remote Mangapurua Valley. Completed in 1932, the bridge is the only remaining evidence of the settlement. Cross the 'Bridge to Nowhere' in the Whanganui National Park.

Jet boat tours to the Bridge to Nowhere run daily from Pipiriki, traveling upstream to the middle reaches of the Wanganui River. The scenic bush walk to the famous bridge begins at Mangapurua Landing.


‘The World's Fastest Indian’, another story from New Zealand's history books, took the country's deep south by storm. The story of local motorcycle legend Burt Munro was played by Sir Anthony Hopkins along with thousands of locals in Invercargill who offered their services to the film. Invercargill is at the southern tip of the South Island.
Producer Gary Hannam said although film-making was a new experience in this corner of the world, Invercargill was a great base for a film. "Having excellent industries there, like engineering, was just as important as having the right scenery," he said.
"We could have filmed this movie anywhere, but we wanted to do it in Invercargill, where Burt Munro was from. The locals were incredibly co-operative and enthusiastic, and the quality of the extras was wonderful." Even the colorful local mayor, Tim Shadbolt, took a role in the film.
The crew spent several weeks at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah (where Munro set world speed records on his beloved Indian Scout bike) before moving to New Zealand to film the rest of the movie over 11 weeks through until Christmas 2004. Much of the filming was shot on Oreti Beach, a wide arc of white sand where Munro would test-drive his motorbikes, overlooking the waters of Foveaux Strait.
The wide streets of Invercargill, a city of 50,000, and the elegant Victorian and Edwardian buildings which border them also played their part in Munro's life story set in the 1960s.

New Zealand's Main film locations by city

New Zealand’s four best known cities, Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin provide a range of urban locations for the international film industry. While smaller, Queenstown is widely known as a great adventure destination. Auckland is situated at the northern end of the North Island, Wellington at the southernmost end, while Christchurch, Queenstown and Dunedin are in the South Island.

The location for Jane Campion’s Academy Award-winning film The Piano, and TV series Xena, Warrior Princess. Known as the City of Sails, Auckland is surrounded by water and dominated by dormant volcano Rangitoto Island to the east. There are many other dormant volcanoes around the city. Auckland has ready access to lush bush, beaches, vineyards and flat farmland. The city has a sparkling harbour, and is also venue to America's Cup racing. Auckland is a sprawling, large urban area that features many different types of suburban looks.

New Zealand’s capital city received world attention as host to the production of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The rugged hillsides of Wellington surround a large harbour and have resulted in a unique range of architectural styles. The high-rise city centre is compact and based at the foot of the hills, and houses appear to cling precariously to all manner of challenging terrain. Wellington has ready access to rugged coastlines, farming valleys, vineyards, rivers, beaches, old established stables and horse training areas. The Wairarapa Valley, home to a flourishing wine industry, is also within convenient reach. Located at the bottom of the North Island, Wellington is a convenient mid-point in New Zealand, close to the South Island.

The leafy gentleness of this flat ‘garden city’ edged by the Port Hills is a fantastic introduction to the rugged and spectacular landscape of the South Island. Christchurch has easy access to flat plains, gentle rolling hills and many different types of harvests, including wheat, oats, barley, and flower crops. Christchurch acts as a gateway to mountains, river gorges, dramatic coastline and alpine plain locations that make it a popular hub for South Island filming.

Dunedin and its nearby township of Oamaru possess beautiful working harbours with wharf buildings still in their original condition, reminiscent of 19th-century England or Scotland. Much of the rustic colonial city is still intact, with stone and brick the most commonly used materials. Dunedin is the gateway to the rolling green hills of Otago. The Catlins region provides beautiful cliff-top vistas, moss covered bush and streams, and spectacular untainted beaches.

The nirvana for adventure filmmakers. Known as the adventure capital of New Zealand, the resort town of Queenstown is set amidst some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world, nestled around Lake Wakatipu with the snow-capped Remarkable mountain range in the background. There are two ski-fields within 15 minutes of the town centre, and extreme sports such as bungy jumping (the first commercial operation in the world was launched here), white-water rafting, jet boating and hang gliding are available. There are also stunning vineyards, producing some of the country's top wines, orchards, spectacular bush and gorges. Queenstown is also the nearest point to access the National Parks of Fiordland.


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