Since Peter Jackson made unprecedented success in Hollywood with his New Zealand films (Lord of The Rings & The Hobbit in case you’re from Mars), New Zealand has been placed firmly on the map as the perfect film location, which in turn has done huge things for New Zealand tourism.

Here I have compiled a list of the ten top New Zealand films or about the famous New Zealand islands (in no particular order):

1 Wolverine (2009) – Filmed in the Otago and starring the beautiful Hugh Jackman. Sadly, Jackman’s incredible body may have been overshadowed by the Otago scenery, however, this gives us the perfect excuse to watch it again.

2 Lord of the Rings – The Trilogy (2001-2003) – Had to be mentioned otherwise I may have had a serious backlash, these films have created a whole sub-industry within New Zealand tourism, with tours focussed on taking you to all the stunning New Zealand film locations. Make sure you also check out this article for the Top 5 LOTR & Hobbit film locations in NZ.
Hobbiton, The Shires, Middle-Earth, Matamata, New Zealand - panoramio (12)

3 Mauri (1988) – The first feature film from Merata Mita who is well known for her political views and advocate for change, thanks to her traditional Maori upbringing. It was also the second ever feature film to have a female Maori director. The film is a discussion on racism and birthrights within a rural community. It may not be a hollywood blockbuster but it is still an important film about New Zealand and Maori history.

4 Black Sheep (2006) – Awesome and hilarious light relief comedy horror filmed in Wairarapa and Wellington. The film isn’t really made to showcase New Zealand’s beautiful landscape but is still a worthwhile mention.

5 The World’s Fastest Indian (2005) – a combination of three killer elements here. A true story about New Zealander Burt Munro from Invercargill, starring my favourite actor Anthony Hopkins, and filmed on the gorgeous black sand shores of Muriwai Beach, 42km from Auckland City.

worlds fastest indian
By Midnight bird (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
6 The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (2005) – The film is nowhere near as good as the book but the cinematography and scenery is stunning, thanks to filming locations including Flock Hill – Canterbury, Purakaunui Bay – Otago and Auckland City.

7 Rainbow Warrier (2002) – tells the true story of the bombing and consequent sinking of the Greenpeace ship about to set sail to protest against nuclear testing in France. It’s a film that provokes thought, especially in this day and age, and makes you see Auckland Harbour in a different light.

8 Without a Paddle (2004) – Pay attention in this film as it is a walking advertisment for New Zealand’s North Island. Film locations include Taupo, Rotorua, Wanganui, Waikato and Wellington. It is also a good backpacker hangover comedy.

9 Whale Rider (2002) – Famous outside of New Zealand for being ‘that New Zealand film that won awards’, Whale Rider showcases some of the North Island’s most stunning coastline, most notably, Whangara on the Gisborne coastline, east coast of New Zealand.

10 The Piano (1993) – Many would be surprised to know that this film offers viewers the best that Auckland has to offer, including both KareKare and Piha beach.

If you’re currently in New Zealand and fancy some movie star spotting, then there seem to always be film stars somewhere in the country filming something. Also, keep your eyes peeled when travelling around New Zealand as you could well be standing on some of the famous film locations from your favourite films.

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