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New Zealand

Overview and productions

New Zealand has long had a reputation as a country that can create almost any world. Whether for places real or imagined, the small island nation provides locations and backdrops that can stand in for almost anywhere.

New Zealand’s highly skilled crew (and good incentive scheme) was the reason James Cameron chose to return to Wellington to make Avatar: The Way Of Water and its sequels.


Avatar producer Jon Landau says New Zealand crews have commitment, passion and dedication, and take pride in what they do. “There has not been a challenge we have put to our crew here in New Zealand that they have not figured out a solution. And that says a lot.”

Rings of Power's executive producer Callum Greene had high praise for the country and the accessibility to the variety of different landscapes. “Probably the best location in the world I’ve ever shot at.”

The innovation and ingenuity is reflected in the large number of VFX houses in Auckland and Wellington, with acclaimed Weta FX winning the best visual effects Academy Award in 2023 for Avatar: The Way Of Water, picking up further nominations for The Batman and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.


Avatar is not the only production that keeps returning to New Zealand. Net­flix series Sweet Tooth dropped its second series in April and filming is underway on the third season in Auckland, Waikato and multiple South Island locations.

New Zealand may look small but Eddie Rubin, executive producer of Amazon Studios feature Don’t Make Me Go, says the diversity of locations is enormous. “Within 30 minutes of each other we were able to close down an entire freeway, shoot in a casino, a hospital, a beach and more.”

Overview and productions

Infrastructure and crews

New Zealand production infrastructure is expanding. In Wellington all facilities, including the Weta group of companies and Park Road Post, are located centrally. There is also the well-established Stone Street Studios and the recently opened Lane Street Studios. In Auckland, studio capacity continues to grow with Auckland Film Studios open, and new facilities at Studio West alongside Kumeu Film Studios and X3. 

Size matters

New Zealand is an overnight direct flight from Los Angeles and is equivalent in size to the state of California. Its main production bases are Auckland and Wellington, with a smaller base in Queenstown and growing infrastructure in Christchurch. The country is made up of two main islands offering a large variety of locations within short distances. 


South Island is a filming favourite. The pristine and prehistoric environs have been ideal for the makers of T.rex. “The environments are stunning, the New Zealand crew is top tier and we were able to access cutting-­edge tech­nology that is difficult in the US,” says T.rex producer Andy Wood, who also shot Dinosaurs Of Antarctica in the territory.

Auckland continues to attract a variety of productions and its thriving creative sector employs the largest pool of talent in the screen industry. Warner Bros’ Evil Dead Rise filmed in the city, as did Blumhouse Productions’ runaway horror hit M3GAN — in fact everything, bar the titular puppet, was made here.

“You get a bunch of different looks. We were in the mountains, the city and the suburbs,” says producer Adam Hendricks. “If someone told me they were going to shoot in Auckland, the first thing I would do is give them a list of all the great crew they need to meet up with. It’s a long, long list.”

Screen Auckland manager Matthew Horrocks says Auckland has a well-­deserved reputation for its diverse locations within 30 minutes of the city centre, and also the calibre of its crews and studios. “The creative sector is expanding its presence and focus on west Auckland, with new studios recently opened, multiple soundstages, ocean surface and deep‑dive tanks, and a high concentration of facilities, businesses and creative talent.”

Wellington makes for an easy filmmaking experience, the compact capital city having played host to large, international studio-based productions including the Avatar films, Taika Waititi’s Time Bandits reboot and drama series After The Party. It is known as New Zealand’s creative capital and is recognised by Unesco as a City of Film for its rich and diverse screen activity.


And there is more to come, with AppleTV+’s Chief Of War starring Jason Momoa, The Convert directed by Lee Tamahori and A Mistake starring Elizabeth Banks all in the production pipeline.

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