Scenery Worthy Of The Big Screen: Movies Made In Queenstown

Unless you were living under a rock in the early 2000s, you probably heard of a movie franchise called The Lord of The Rings.

The film trilogy catapulted director Peter Jackson to superstardom.And for Queenstown͛s tourism industry, it had a similar effect.


Glenorchy is a popular movie location

When the first Lord of The Rings film hit the big screens in 2001, the jaw-dropping landscapes of New Zealand's South Island were thrust upon audiences around the globe. Peter Jackson delivered New Zealand to the world as the embodiment of ͚Middle-earth͛. And it had a massive impact. The film was a three-hour advertisement for sightseeing in New Zealand, and the marketing people couldn͛t have been happier. Before long, Lord of The Rings tours and sites popped up everywhere, giving eager fans the chance to walk amongst the scenery immortalised in the movies.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy was shot throughout New Zealand. The filmmakers unearthed a wealth of uninhabited locations to recreate the fantasy landscapes of Tolkien͛s imagination. But no other location featured as heavily as Glenorchy and its surrounding mountain ranges. During filming, the cast and crew were based at Glenorchy and Queenstown for so long, they became honorary locals. Many were on hand to help the town when it succumbed to a major flood in 1999.

Now, 15 years later, Lord of The Rings mania has died down. Sort of. Just like other cinematic classics (think Star Wars or The Sound of Music), the appeal continues many years after the movies have left the cinema. Local tour company, Nomad Safaris, run 4WD Lord of The Rings locations tours, which are still hugely popular.


There have been many movies shot around Queenstown, some of these are:

Vertical Limit (2000),

Lord of The Rings Trilogy (2001 –2003),

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe (2005),

10,000 BC (2006),

The Water Horse (2007),

Wolverine (2009),

I Hate Luv Storys (2010),

Jane Campion͛s Top Of The Lake (2012),

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2014).

The Bollywood super hit 'I Hate Luv Storys' was filmed locally and put Queenstown on the top of the wish list for Indian travellers. The romantic comedy, starring Imran Khan and Sonam Kapoor lured many Indian visitors to New Zealand as they sought to put themselves in the same scenery as their film heartthrobs


Making movies at Moke Lake

In case the scenery isn͛t enough to entice the filmmakers, Queenstown also offers a few other benefits.The location is close to a world-class resort with plenty of appropriate accommodation for A-list film stars and large film crews. With many of the local landscapes and mountaintops owned by the Department of Conservation, access is relatively easy but also comes with strict terms of use to ensure no damage is done. Queenstown͛s mountain ranges give great versatility and have starred as the Scottish highlands, the Himalayas and the fictitious landscapes of Isengard and Lothlorien. The South Island is also seriously underpopulated, which makes it a lot easier to avoid a power pole or random passer-by getting caught in shot.

Queenstown is home to a full industry of filmmakers with the latest technology and equipment to create films, features, television shows and commercials. Filmmakers are drawn here because of a rich diversity of landscapes. Here they can find alpine vistas, fiords, raw coastlines, waterfalls, sparse, rocky landscapes, farms, vineyards and historic towns.

The Lord of The Rings movies did something amazing for New Zealand tourism, and the effects will carry on for many years to come. In all its cinematic glory, New Zealand was showcased to a global audience who quickly put the little country at the bottom of the planet straight to the top of their travel wish list.

And for anyone who visits Queenstown or Glenorchy, it͛s easy to see why the landscapes are worthy of the big screen.