With striking scenery, unspoiled rural landscapes, and a growing film industry dubbed “Wellywood,” it’s no surprise New Zealand has become a top filming location for some of the world’s biggest blockbusters. It is also home to several world-class directors and a top production company. New Zealand’s dramatic scenery is the perfect backdrop for many famous movies, including The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies, Avatar, The Chronicles of Narnia, Wolverine, and others. Whether you’re a movie buff or simply interested in having a look around these famous movie sets, find some Hollywood flair in your next New Zealand vacation.
Known as the “home of Middle Earth,” New Zealand boasts scenery so beautiful it’s easily mistaken for CGI (Computer-Generated Imagery). With lush green meadows, beautiful snow-capped mountains, and sparkling fresh-water streams, New Zealand’s landscapes are the stuff of fantasies. What’s more, the rural areas of New Zealand – with its laidback country farms – don’t have the built up infrastructure, high rise buildings, and power cables that belie so many other locations close to the city. Explore the film sets and scenery that make New Zealand one of the most film-friendly destinations in the world.
The city of Wellington, dubbed “Wellywood” by the film industry, is inundated with high end film production companies, including Wingnut Films, Weta Workshop, Weta Digital, Stone Street Studios, and Park Road Post. Sir Peter Jackson, a patriotic Kiwi, is one of the world’s most innovative and famous filmmakers, known for his work directing the films, Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. He has a private theatre as well as filmmaking facilities in Wellington. With such fantastic production facilities and excellent tax credits, New Zealand is a no-brainer as a world-class film location.
It is for this reason and more that so many well-known movies have been filmed in New Zealand. Take some time, on your New Zealand vacation, to explore the famous sets and enjoy a behind-the-scenes look at the incredible work that goes into making these films.
The Hobbiton Movie Set
The Lord of the Rings was the film that really put New Zealand on the map in the film industry, and its set was later used again for The Hobbit trilogy. A working sheep and beef cattle farm in Matamata was transformed into the Hobbiton movie set, and its rolling green hills, endless green meadows, and beautiful gardens epitomized what J.R.R. Tolkien created in his books. This 1,250 acre working farm, with 13,000 sheep and 300 beef cattle, offers spectacular views across the Kaimai Ranges. New features on the set include a variety of Hobbit holes, gardens, bridges, meandering pathways, picket fences, and mills. The more recently built Green Dragon Inn is one of the newest features of the set, and visitors on their New Zealand vacation can enjoy a complimentary apple cider or ginger beer at the end of their tour. The movie set is open to the public and has become one of the most popular tourist spots in New Zealand. Tours of the movie set are available and conclude with a chance to visit the Woolshed, where you watch sheep being sheared and can bottle feed the adorable pet lambs. Nightly tours are available once a week where you can end your tour with dinner in the Green Dragon Inn.
14-Day Lord of the Rings Self-Drive
Weta Workshop has been providing design and manufacturing for film for over 20 years, and studio tours are available to view the specialty costumes, weapons, props, and models for various popular films, including The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films. Explore the famous Weta Cave Shop, where you can see the life-sized Hobbit sculptures and stroll through the mini museum for a closer look at the intricate props. You can even pick up filmmaking memorabilia here, such as art prints and the replicas of sculptures and props used in the films. Entry is free!
Suggested Day Tour:
Weta Cave Premium There and Back Tour
Movie buffs should look no further than New Zealand for the ultimate film location vacation!