New Zealand Film & Photography Production Services & Camera Crews
Are you a media company, brand, ad agency or production company looking for film / photography production support or shooting crew in New Zealand? Contact us for trusted fixers, producers, directors, DoPs, videographers, photographers, and full shooting crews tailored for the specific needs of your project.
Filming in New Zealand
For an introduction to shooting in New Zealand see below notes on film locations, permits, when to shoot, unique local stories, costs, tax incentives, crews, talent, equipment, communications, art department, studios, post facilities, visas and work permits for filming, transport, film-friendly accommodation, and safety advice.
New Zealand Film Locations
New Zealand is a southwest Pacific nation that offers a wealth of locations within close proximity to each other. The country is best known for its otherworldly locations of snow-covered mountains, glaciers, lakes, volcanoes, geothermal pools, magnificent fjords, forests, peaceful streams, white-water rapids, rolling bucolic landscapes, black and white sand beaches, and stunning roads. Cities of note include Auckland, Wellington, Queenstown, Christchurch, and Dunedin. Car proving grounds are available for filming. New Zealand has many rugby and cricket venues.
New Zealand is a popular choice for dairy commercials looking for black and white Jersey cows wandering around luscious green meadows. Bucolic pastures with grazing sheep, beef cattle, pigs, poultry, goats, and deer are also available. Other agricultural film locations include farms that produce wheat, barley, corn, kiwifruit, apples, avocados, peaches, apricots, plums, cherries, and berries. New Zealand is famous for its vineyards. Fishing trawlers are available for filming. The country has an impressive sailing culture so there are plenty of boats available for filming on the open ocean. Lumber mills and pulp mills are also available for filming. New Zealand mines coal, silver, iron ore, limestone, gold, and jade. Energy locations include coal and natural gas fired power plants, hydroelectric power, geothermal power, and wind farms.
New Zealand has hosted many productions including Evil Dead Rise (2023), M3GAN (2022), X (2022), The Power of The Dog (2021), Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018), Ghost in the Shell (2017), The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014), The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013), The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012), The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader (2010), X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), Avatar (2009), The Lovely Bones (2009), The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008), The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe (2005), King Kong (2005), The Last Samurai (2003), The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), Lord Of The Rings: Fellowship Of Ring (2001), Xena – Warrior Princess (2001-1995), Vertical Limit (2000), The Frighteners (1996), Heavenly Creatures (1994), The Piano (1993), and The Bounty (1984).
Locations of interest to filmmakers and photographers can be divided by the following regions:
The North Island includes the regions of Auckland, Northland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay, Taranaki, Manawatū-Whanganui, and Wellington.
Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city. Known as “The City of Sails”, Auckland’s two large harbours are full of yachts. The city boasts more boats per capita than anywhere else in the world. Viaduct Harbour is a great place to film waterfront bars and cafes. Auckland’s iconic Sky Tower punctuates the modern city skyline. Auckland film locations include Auckland Art Gallery, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Auckland Town Hall, Museum of Transport and Technology, Torpedo Bay Navy Museum, St Patrick’s Cathedral, University of Auckland campus, Civic Theatre, Britomart Transport Centre, Mount Eden Crater, Auckland Botanic Gardens, Auckland Domain, Victoria Park, Fo Guang Shan Temple, and Eden Park stadium. Monte Cecilia Park was filmed for The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe (2005).
Waitakere Ranges Regional Park was filmed for Xena – Warrior Princess (2001-1995).
Karekare Beach featured in The Piano (1993).
Piha Beach is a scenic black sand surf beach.
Woodhill Forest was filmed for The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe (2005).
Tiritiri Matangi Lighthouse is located on Tiritiri Matangi Island.
Northland. Waitangi Treaty Grounds are located in the Bay of Islands.
Haruru Falls is a beautiful location.
Tāne Mahuta is a giant kauri tree in the Waipoua Forest.
Whangarei was filmed for The Bounty (1984).
Cape Reinga Lighthouse is located in Northland.
Waikato. Hobbiton is the film set for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014), The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012), and Lord Of The Rings Fellowship Of Ring (2001).
Waitomo Glowworm Caves is a beautiful location.
Raglan is known for its surf beaches.
Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve is where you can find Cathedral Cove where The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008) filmed.
Whanganui National Park protects the habitat of the North Island brown kiwi, whio, and a diversity of birdlife.
Lake Taupō pours into the spectacular Huka Falls.
Pouakani Forest Reserve has many ancient totara trees.
Mangaotaki Rocks featured in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012).
Aratiatia Rapids were filmed for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013).
Bay of Plenty. Rotorua is known for its lakes and geothermal health spas. Film locations include the Rotorua Museum, Rainbow Springs Nature Park, Whakarewarewa Forest, Hells Gate Geothermal Park, Okere Falls, and Pohutu Geyser.
Frying Pan Lake is the world’s largest hot spring.
Whakaari / White Island is an active andesite stratovolcano. The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader (2010) filmed on White Island.
Gisborne. Gisborne Airport has a railway that intersects the runway.
Hawke’s Bay. Opossum World is located in Napier.
Taranaki. Mount Taranaki in Egmont National Park doubled for Japan’s Mount Fuji in The Last Samurai (2003).
Manawatū-Whanganui. Tongariro National Park is home to volcanos including Mount Ruapehu, Mount Tongariro, and Mount Ngauruhoe, played Mordor and Mount Doom in Lord Of The Rings: Fellowship Of Ring (2001). Whakapapa Ski Field on Mount Ruapehu is one the country’s largest ski areas. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013) filmed in Tongariro National Park.
Waitarere Forest played Trollshaw Forest and Osgiliath in Lord Of The Rings: Fellowship Of Ring (2001).
Fordell doubled for rural Texas in X (2022).
Wellington. Located at the southern end of the North Island, Wellington is New Zealand’s capital, and a major film production centre. Film locations of note include the Beehive parliament building, Opera House, Embassy Theatre, St James Theatre, Circa Theatre, Roxy Cinema, Te Papa Museum, Wellington Railway Station, Botanical Gardens, Mount Victoria, Mount Victoria Tunnel, Moa Point tunnel, Mount Crawford, Wellington Cable Car, Wellington International Airport, Sky Stadium, Scorching Bay, Shelly Bay, and Lyall Bay where King Kong (2005) was filmed. Busy downtown locations of note include Jervois Quay, Featherston Street, Maginnity Street, and Hunter Street. Wellington is one of the windiest city on earth.
HMNZS Wellington is a F69 Frigate wreck artificial reef dive site.
Boomrock is a car racing and training course.
Motorplex in Masterton is a dragstrip available for filming.
Kapiti Island Nature Reserve was filmed for King Kong (2005).
Wainuiomata beach is a long, unspoilt, rocky stretch of coastline.
Battle Hill has a farm, plantation and forest (Pete’s Dragon).
Putangirua Pinnacles is an area of rocky pillars.
Kaitoke Regional Park was shot for Rivendell in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001).
Fernside House & Garden featured in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001).
Dry Creek Quarry played Helm’s Deep in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002).
Cape Palliser Lighthouse is located in the Wellington region.
The South Island includes the regions of Tasman, Nelson, Marlborough, West Coast, Canterbury, Otago, and Southland.
Tasman. Abel Tasman National Park is known for its golden beaches, granite cliffs, Wainui Falls, and Harwoods Hole cave system.
Nelson Lakes National Park is known for its beech forests, lakes, snow-covered mountains, and valleys.
Maruia Falls is a beautiful location.
Tākaka Hill was filmed for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001).
Kaihoka Station in Golden Bay was filmed for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012).
Canaan Downs was filmed for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013).
Nelson. The city of Nelson is known for its beaches, mountains, lakes, wineries, and churches.
Marlborough. The Marlborough region is famous for its Sauvignon Blanc vineyards.
Marlborough Sounds are a beautiful location.
Pelorus River was filmed for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013).
West Coast. Westland Tai Poutini National Park is home to Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier.
Pancake Rocks is located near Punakaiki.
Hokitika Gorge is a beautiful location.
Lake Matheson is a picturesque location.
Paparoa National Park is known for the Te Ananui Caves.
Moeraki River Inlet in Westland was filmed for The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008).
Kahurangi National Park played Eregion Hills in Lord Of The Rings: Fellowship Of Ring (2001).
Canterbury. Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island. Film locations include the Canterbury Museum, Christchurch Art Gallery, Christchurch Art Centre, International Antarctic Centre, Cardboard Cathedral designed by Shigeru Ban, Air Force Museum of New Zealand, Ravenscar House Museum, Christchurch Gondola, Christchurch Tram, Hagley Park, and Christchurch Botanic Gardens. The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe (2005), The Frighteners (1996), and Heavenly Creatures (1994) filmed in Christchurch.
Lincoln University is known for Ivey Hall.
Kaikoura is a spectacular coastal town known for its sperm whale population.
Castle Hill limestone boulders are a beautiful film location.
Ski resorts include Mount Hutt, Hanmer Springs, and Roundhill.
Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park is known for its mountains, glaciers, and alpine lakes. Mount Cook is New Zealand’s highest peak. Tasman Glacier is the country’s largest glacier. Mueller Hut is a beautiful location. Vertical Limit (2000) filmed in Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park.
Flock Hill was filmed for The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe (2005).
Mount Sunday played Edoras in Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King (2003).
Ben Ohau Station played the Pelennor Fields in Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King (2003).
Arthur’s Pass National Park is known for its mountain peaks, scree slopes, steep gorges, waterfalls and rivers.
Braemar Station was filmed for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012).
Lake Pukaki was filmed for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014).
Otago. Dunedin is the largest city in Otago. Film locations include Dunedin Railway Station, Dunedin Town Hall, First Church of Otago, Anglican Cathedral, Larnach Castle, University of Otago’s Registry Building, Otago Boys School, Fortune Theatre, Toitū Otago Settlers Museum, and Forsyth Barr Stadium. Baldwin Street is one of the world’s steepest streets. The Power of The Dog (2021) filmed in Dunedin.
Queenstown is New Zealand’s outdoor and adventure capital sitting on Lake Wakatipu and set against the dramatic Southern Alps. It is the gateway to many of the South Island’s most spectacular mountain, glacier, and fjord locations.
Lake Wanaka has a solitary tree growing in the lake, backdropped by the beautiful Southern Alps.
Southern Hemisphere Proving Grounds is a winter car-testing track located on top of a mountain. It is one of few places in the world where cars can be tested on snow during the months of June to August.
Skippers Canyon Road is a narrow, cliffside gravel road with spectacular views.
Ski resorts of note include Treble Cone, The Remarkables, Coronet Peak, and Cardrona. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) filmed in Treble Cone.
Mount Aspiring National Park is known for its mountains, glaciers, waterfalls, and valleys.
Lake Tekapo’s flowering Lupins are in full bloom in November.
The Shotover River featured in Lord Of The Rings Fellowship Of Ring (2001).
Kawarau Gorge played Argonath in Lord Of The Rings Fellowship Of Ring (2001).
Closeburn played Amon Hen in Lord Of The Rings Fellowship Of Ring (2001).
Mavora Lakes Park played Nen Hithoel in Lord Of The Rings Fellowship Of Ring (2001).
Oamaru is known for Harbour Street’s Victorian architecture. It is also a good place to photograph a colony of little blue penguins.
Nugget Point Lighthouse is located in Otago.
Glenorchy was filmed for X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe (2005), and Lord Of The Rings Fellowship Of Ring (2001).
Elephant Rocks, near Duntroon, featured in The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe (2005).
Purakaunui Bay featured in The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe (2005).
Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018) filmed in Central Otago’s Rees Valley.
Poolburn Reservoir played Rohan in Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers (2002).
Strath Taieri was filmed for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012).
Passburn was filmed for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013), and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012).
Rock & Pillar Range was filmed for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014), and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013).
Earnslaw Burn was filmed for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013).
Southland. Fiordland National Park is famous for its spectacular fjords including Milford Sound, and Doubtful Sound. Sutherland Falls was filmed for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012). The Milford Track and Routeburn Track are world famous hiking trails.
Invercargill is the southern gateway to the unspoilt Southern Coast. Film locations include Bill Richardson Transport World, Queens Park, and Invercargill Water Tower.
Stirling Falls in Milford Sound was filmed for X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009).
Slope Point is known for its gnarled permanently flattened trees.
Rakiura National Park protects Stewart Island / Rakiura. The island is a Dark Sky Sanctuary.
The Kepler Mire was filmed for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002).
Mararoa Saddle was filmed for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012).
Te Anau Downs Station was filmed for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014), and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013).
The Realm of New Zealand
Tokelau is a dependent territory.
The Cook Islands and Niue are self-governing states in free association with New Zealand. Marae Moana is a multiple-use marine park surrounding the Cook Islands which covers an area of 1.9 million km sq. Survivor: Cook Islands (2006) filmed in the Cook Islands.
The Ross Dependency is New Zealand’s territorial claim in Antarctica.
New Zealand Film Location Permits
The permitting process is generally quick, easy and streamlined. It is possible to close city streets for filming, as well as rural highways and country roads but not motorways. Aerial filming is permitted over most locations, including cities. A 500 ft minimum height limit applies to cities but there is usually no minimum height restriction otherwise. Please contact us for more location specific information.
When To Shoot?
New Zealand is popular with visiting production looking for opposite season looks. Summer runs from December to February. This is the busiest time for production with long, sunny shoot days and impressive light. Fall is from March to May. Winter runs from June to August with snow on the mountains. The rest of the country rarely sees snow, so locations at lower elevations are open to filming all year round. Spring is from September to November. The Aurora Australis is best photographed from March to September. For monthly weather statistics please see here.
Indigenous cultural events of interest to filmmakers and photographers include Matariki Festival Maori celebrations which take place in June / July.
Wheat and barley fields are harvested between December and March.
Most New Zealanders are non-religious. Christianity is the largest religion, followed by Hinduism, Islam, and Buddhism, owing to the country’s multicultural diversity.
Public holidays may affect timing, availability and costs. See here for public holiday dates in New Zealand.
Unique Local Stories
Brands are looking for local stories that match their brand narrative. Our local teams are a great lead for sourcing those unique stories and characters.
If you are looking for stories for your next shoot, send us your brief and we will pitch you ideas.
If you have a unique story you would like to pitch to a brand anywhere in the world, pitch us your idea. We have well-established processes to ensure that your ideas are properly seen and protected.
Costs & Tax Incentives
Costs. For a high quality production service centre, New Zealand is one of the most cost competitive filming centres in the Western world. New Zealand is generally less expensive than Australia due to the difference in exchange rate, less distance to locations, and more flexible crew and talent rules. Our locally based fixers and service producers will negotiate deals and provide the appropriate level of production support to match every budget.
Tax Incentives. The NZSPG offers a baseline cash grant equivalent to 20% of Qualifying New Zealand Production Expenditure (QNZPE). In addition to the baseline grant, some projects may also be eligible for an additional 5% uplift if they can demonstrate significant economic benefits to New Zealand. See Film New Zealand for more information.
GST is not charged on foreign TV commercials and other short format work as the files / negative are considered an export.
Film Crew & Talent
Crews. New Zealand has a good pool of local directors, directors of photography, production designers and stills photographers with extensive international experience. Auckland is the main filming city, followed closely by Wellington, Queenstown and Christchurch. Crews are non-union. New Zealand has a great depth of professional, technical crews. They are quick, hard working and have a great deal of experience servicing international productions.
Contact us if you are looking for a Auckland, Queenstown or Christchurch based director, DP, photographer, videographer (cameraman / camera operator), camera assistant (focus puller), sound operator, grip, gaffer, stylist, hair and makeup, PA / runner, production driver, or any other film crew in New Zealand.
Talent. New Zealand is a multicultural country offering international talent looks, with the majority of looks being Caucasian, Maori, Pacific Islander, and Asian.
English and Maori are widely spoken.
New Zealand has a great depth of actors and models. There’s even an agency specialising in ethnic looks. Featured talent and extras of any look are easy to cast. However, if you need principal dialogue actors with a particular accent / language, we recommend that you cast in your own country, as well as in New Zealand. It is sometimes required to do a casting session in New Zealand in order to obtain work visas for visiting talent, unless the talent is key to the campaign and not generally available locally (Eg: Foreign language speaking), in which case no New Zealand casting is required.
Most actors are non-union, but our New Zealand production service producer / fixer works to industry guidelines (known as the Pink Book). There are no strict guidelines for rates here. Fees are determined based on country, media and duration of broadcast. Buy-outs are available.
For an example of locally available talent looks see Talento.
Premiums. Crew work a 10 hour day, then charge overtime in ¼ hourly increments thereafter. 10 hours is usual turnaround, breaking that incurs an hourly penalty. There are no penalties for working weekends, holiday or nights. Double-time is charged for the 7th consecutive day of filming or the 13th prep/filming day. Our producer usually works around this by giving crew a well-earned day off. However, we do work to Screen Industry guidelines to ensure high expectation levels are met on both sides. For more information on these guidelines please visit the NZ Film and Video Technicians Guild.
New Zealand Film Equipment
Equipment. New Zealand has most of the equipment you would expect from an established production service centre: 35mm, HD and Red / Alexa cameras, Technocranes, Libra head, Scorpio, Steadicams, underwater camera equipment, motion control, various gyro stabilized heli-mounts, a flying camera rig, drones and operators, tracking vehicles, low loaders and vehicle camera arms for car shoots. There are several camera and equipment hire companies, keeping costs competitive, such as Rocket Rentals. For drone filming and rentals see Droneworks. For more recommendations, contact us. For productions looking to bring in film equipment New Zealand is an ATA carnet country.
Communications. Communication is key. Our agility and global experience allows us to customise the right communications systems for every shoot.
Web posted casting, scouting, and videoconferencing.
For clients that are unable to attend set we offer a virtual video village solution. This dedicated and secure high-resolution video streaming platform allows clients from one or multiple timezones to view setups without compromise and to participate in real-time with the team on set. Separate systems can be set up for the discrete conversations that are required to make a job run right. Working remotely with our local teams reduces your content production costs, turnaround times, carbon footprint, and risks associated with unpredictable global events.
Art Department, Studios, Backlots, & Post Production
Art department, set construction, costumes and SFX are world class. To give you an example of the standard, New Zealand has hosted productions such as the The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014), The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013), The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012), King Kong (2005), The Last Samurai (2003), The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), and Lord Of The Rings: Fellowship Of Ring (2001), and Xena – Warrior Princess (2001-1995).
Studios. Although most people come to New Zealand for the spectacular scenery, many projects are also shot in studio. New Zealand has everything from small photo studios to some of the largest purpose-built sound stages in the world such as X3 Studios. Over the years, New Zealand studios have been used for a wide range of feature films, TV series, TV commercial productions, and music videos. Stone Street Studios have hosted productions such as Ghost in the Shell (2017), Avatar (2009), The Lovely Bones (2009), King Kong (2005), The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), and Lord Of The Rings: Fellowship Of Ring (2001).
Post Production. New Zealand offers world leading, sophisticated post-production, animation, VFX, 3D and sound facilities. Park Road Post Production have serviced productions such as The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014), The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013), The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012), King Kong (2005), The Last Samurai (2003), The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), and Lord Of The Rings: Fellowship Of Ring (2001).
Visas & Work Permits
Work permits are required for cast and crew from all countries except Australia. These can generally be obtained quickly. Our local fixer / service producer can provide the required documents and advice to secure work permits prior to arrival, or in some circumstances after arriving in New Zealand.
Clients and agency do not require work permits while visiting to supervise shoots in New Zealand, but may require a visitors visa depending on nationality. Those travelling on Western passports can enter visa-free.
Importing Product. It is easy to bring product (including cars) into New Zealand for filming. As long as we have all the details in advance, these can be cleared of customs and be available within 24 hours. Goods can be brought in on a temporary import permit (and taken out of the country again), or on a carnet. Goods left in New Zealand may incur a Goods and Services Tax.
Transport & Accommodation
Transportation Infrastructure is all up to known and expected world standards. Many international airlines fly directly to Auckland and sometimes to Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown.
Accommodation. Contact us for recommended film friendly hotels in Auckland, Wellington, Queenstown and other parts of New Zealand. For longer stays we also organize serviced apartments. Hotels of note include:
Safety. New Zealand is a very safe and reliable filming centre. See here for up to date travel advice.
Down Time. Explore New Zealand’s beautiful and diverse great outdoors. End the day with a glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.
Projects. For an example of TV commercials, stills campaigns, online content, corporate videos, virtual reality 360 content, feature films, TV series and documentaries shot in New Zealand, please see below:
Hire New Zealand Production Support & Shooting Crew
If you are looking for a film or photographic production service company, line producer or fixer for your shoot in New Zealand, please contact us.
If you are looking for a shooting crew for your shoot in New Zealand, such as a director, DoP, photographer, videographer (cameraman / camera operator), camera assistant (focus puller), sound operator, grip, gaffer, stylist, hair and makeup, PA / runner, production driver, please contact us.
We are able to provide you with answers, references and bids quickly.