New Zealand is well known for being the backdrop of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films, but it has also hosted many other Hollywood productions that you may not have known about. Visit these scenic locations across New Zealand to experience the wonder of your favourite films up close, while enjoying the local culture each of these locations has to offer.

The Last Samurai

For the filming of The Last Samurai, starring Tom Cruise, the Taranaki region became 1860s Japan. It’s easy to visit all of the filming locations for The Last Samurai, as they were all within the Taranaki region. Start with a visit to the Imperial Army Parade and Palace locations, Pukekura Park, and hire a wooden rowboat to study the scenery from the lake. If you’re interested in hiking, Mount Taranaki played the role of Mount Fujiyama during filming, and Lake Mangamahoe was featured in several battle scenes – both are popular hiking and day walk locations. And of course, there’s nothing quite like a ride in a helicopter to get the full view. While you’re in Taranaki, the adventurous can trying surfing and snowboarding in one day, while the easy-going visitor is sure to enjoy a taste of the local culture and history in the art galleries, museums, and boutique wineries and breweries.

The Chronicles of Narnia

The majority of the Chronicles of Narnia was filmed in New Zealand, as far north as Auckland, and as far south as Queenstown and the Catlins. Visit the White Witch’s camp at Woodhill Forest, Auckland, and ride the network of mountain bike trails, visit nearby Muriwai Beach, or sample wine from one of West Auckland’s many vineyards. Experience the same wonderment as the Pevensie children first stepping into Narnia by visiting the Coromandel Peninsula, especially the Cair Paravel ruins at Cathedral Cove – an unmissable stop for any seafood lover on a summer holiday. Aslan’s Camp was filmed in the Waitaki district at the ancient Elephant Rocks, not far from the historic town of Oamaru – you can easily visit the Elephant Rocks and still have time to sample award winning cheese, wine, and local produce at Whitestone Cheese factory.

King Kong

Much like many of Peter Jackson’s projects, King Kong was filmed in New Zealand, mainly Wellington. The famous Skull Island was created at Lyall Bay and Shelly Bay, with the ocean scenes being filmed both off the Kapiti Coast around the bird sanctuary on Kapiti Island, and on the Cook Strait between Wellington and Picton. Lower Hutt was transformed into 1930s New York for filming, all decked out in depression era facades, vintage cars, and period costume. One thing Wellington has on New York is more bars and restaurants per capita – the region is renowned for its good taste in coffee, cocktails, and fine dining. There’s plenty of local attractions to visit, including Te Papa museum and the historic cable car, but a tour of the Weta Studios is unmissable for any film fan. You’re also in easy reach of several cellar doors for a day of wine-tasting in the Wairarapa.

Whether you’re looking for a luxury wine experience and the familiar scenic backdrop is just a bonus, or you’re after an opportunity to see New Zealand through the eyes of your favourite characters, Escape NZ can help you arrange it. Let us create your dream New Zealand escape, showcasing the most breath-taking locations in New Zealand by air, land and sea, along with world class accommodation for a short escape you’ll never forget.