Welcome to Almost Ginger’s brand new In-Flight Movie series! Every month I’ll be bringing you films that will provide a cultural insight into a different place. They will show off the country’s landscapes and communities, and generally get you excited about the prospect of going to that country or continent. I firmly believe in the inspirational and educational power of film. Therefore, I’m going to attempt to bring you my picks of films that will do just that. Some won’t be set in that place, but will have been heavily located there. Some will provide a slice of life in that country in a certain time or place, and at least one will be in that country’s own language. So without further ado, Let’s begin with New Zealand!
I’m going to jump right in and start with a country I’ve not only never been to, but never been in 1,000 miles of… My impressions that I have gathered so far of New Zealand are the diversity of the landscapes. The friendly people and the terrific accents, but I can only guess.
I have therefore done extensive research on the films that might represent it best and have chosen the final contenders…
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-2003)
Alright, this is kind of an obvious one. Therefore, I hope you don’t hate me for an entry the average person born before 1993 would be able to point out. If you’ve recently joined us from Mars, The Lord of the Rings movies were shot entirely in New Zealand. More specifically, it was shot all over New Zealand from Matamata to Wellington, Nelson, Canterbury, Mackenzie Country, Southern Lakes and Fiordland. If you’re planning a trip to New Zealand, chances are you won’t be too far away from a film location. One of the more popular places to visit is Matamata, a 2 hour drive from Auckland where the Hobbiton set is open to tourists.
Even though the films are set in Middle Earth and are meant to look like they are set in a world which is not our own, they probably are one of the best film series to watch if you’re planning a trip to New Zealand. Because they do cover so much of the country and feature so much of the vast countryside. The landscapes look so beautiful. You’ll have to keep reminding yourself the land isn’t make-believe, but is actually there for you to visit.
Eagle Vs Shark (2007)
New Zealand’s biggest export to the small screen has to be Flight of the Conchords, right? Well, one half of the Conchords duo Jemaine Clement stars in this adorable, if slightly weird, rom-com filmed in Wellington. I chose it not just because it’s a good film, but there there are startlingly few films that are set in any of the cities in New Zealand. Most make use of the landscapes, which is fine, but I can’t help feel like someone’s missing a trick. I also recommend one of Clement’s most recent films What we do in the Shadows (2014) which is a mockumentary/horror/comedy about vampires living in Wellington.
The Piano (1993)
This is a Hollywood movie that, for a change, didn’t use any stand in locations. It was actually filmed in the Auckland region where the film is set. Despite the time of the film being some 150 years ago. The film is about a family who move from Scotland to Auckland, and the mother is a mute but plays piano beautifully. I’ve only really seen period dramas set in the UK or the USA aside from one or two. So, it’s interesting to see one set in New Zealand and look at the differences and similarities. Yeah, you might argue that the film doesn’t inspire much wanderlust. However, it certainly offers an insight into the feel of a time and place. Since it wasn’t filmed that long ago, you can still look at the beaches for what they are.
Other suggestions: The Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016), The World’s Fastest Indian (2005) and Whale Rider (2002).
Have you seen any films that show off New Zealand that should be on this list?