New Zealand films/TV shows
July 11, 2013 10:51 AM   Subscribe

Please recommend to me some movies or TV shows set in or filmed in New Zealand!

One of my favorite things to do before a trip is to watch movies set in or filmed in the places where I'll be. It helps me get a sense of the geography and culture, and even identify places I might like to see.
Pedestrian movies, travel shows, lengthy documentaries, children's films, dark TV shows, comedies... it doesn't matter what it is. I am very interested in social/political history as well as pop culture. My fiance loves music documentaries and biopics.

We're taking a 10-day honeymoon to New Zealand in November, with a weekend in Brisbane (to visit an old friend) before we head home to mid-Missouri, USA. We'll be driving from Auckland to Christchurch with days spent on the North Island and the top of the South Island, but I'm interested in anything set anywhere in the country or vicinity.

What film/TV would you recommend to me now?
Bonus if they're on American Netflix, Amazon, or Hulu. We have a pretty good indie video store in town with a decent selection as well.

We've seen: Lord of the Rings, of course; Whale Rider; Eagle vs. Shark and all other Flight of the Conchords stuff we can find; and, most recently, Sione's Wedding.

Mostly looking for New Zealand fare, but also interested in stuff set in Brisbane or the immediate area outside Brisbane, Queensland in Australia. (I'm only aware of seeing a House Hunters International that was set in Brisbane, so I'm really clueless here.)
posted by aabbbiee to Media & Arts (34 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I'm in the middle of Top of the Lake on Netflix and it's fantastic, with lots of New Zealandy flavor (all lower South Island, though).
posted by theodolite at 10:55 AM on July 11, 2013 [6 favorites]

Does it have to be modern day? If not, The Piano treats the NZ setting like a character of its own.
posted by peachfuzz at 10:56 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Came in to recommend Top of the Lake as well.
posted by Hop123 at 11:00 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Black Sheep
posted by troika at 11:01 AM on July 11, 2013 [5 favorites]

Hercules and Xena were filmed in New Zealand.
posted by jozxyqk at 11:02 AM on July 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

Hercules, Xena, Legend of the Seeker were TV shows filmed there in the Lord of the Rings kind of way, lots of landscape, not contemporary.
posted by bongo_x at 11:02 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Highly recommend the film Boy (dir. Taika Waititi, 2010) -- but unless you have access to an international DVD player, you'll have to wait til you're over there to rent or buy it because the DVD is not available in U.S. format nor is it streaming. But it's worth watching however/whenever you can.
posted by third rail at 11:03 AM on July 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

I think given the way you framed your question Once Were Warriors is probably required viewing.
posted by mcstayinskool at 11:04 AM on July 11, 2013 [7 favorites]

The Navigator (1988) and Heavenly Creatures (1994) both take place in New Zealand.
posted by gubo at 11:07 AM on July 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

The Quiet Earth (wikipedia link, spoilers abound) was set in NZ.
posted by Janta at 11:10 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Another vote for Heavenly Creatures.
posted by scody at 11:21 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

The Almighty Johnsons is set in NZ. It is a pretty fun show, and season 3 just started airing.
posted by HermitDog at 11:22 AM on July 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

Whale Rider. And there's a drama/comedy series called Outrageous Fortune that's worth watching for a particular kind of cultural perspective.
posted by yogalemon at 11:30 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Outrageous Fortune, bro!
posted by ZipRibbons at 11:31 AM on July 11, 2013

Oh, and on the pop culture front, you might be interested in this documentary about Split Enz, the most iconic of NZ bands.
posted by scody at 11:32 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

I was hooked on The Tribe back in the day.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:35 AM on July 11, 2013

Seconding Boy. And according to its Facebook page, the US/Canada DVD and BluRay release was yesterday! Good timing.

Be sure to watch through the end credits--very charming.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:42 AM on July 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

An Angel at My Table.
posted by HandfulOfDust at 12:36 PM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

The Lion Man is set in NZ: it's a workmanlike documentary/reality show with a twisted & occasionally tragic truth-is-stranger-than-fiction backstory.
posted by misteraitch at 12:43 PM on July 11, 2013

I asked a similar question many years ago that might have some useful answers!: Must-see/read/listen items from New Zealand?
posted by wsquared at 12:57 PM on July 11, 2013

Another vote for Once Were Warriors -- but be warned: it's emotionally brutal.
posted by gsh at 1:08 PM on July 11, 2013

Any film that features Bruno Lawrence is worth seeing:
Smash Palace
Goodbye Pork Pie
Race for the Yankee Zephyr
The Quiet Earth
The Great Bookie Robbery
The Delinquents

The World's Fastest Indian, starring Anthony Hopkins, ends in California and Utah, but starts out in Dunedin. Not a lot of film shot that far south.

An Angel at My Table is based on the autobiographical writing of New Zealand author Janet Frame.

Sleeping Dogs Was the first 35 mm film produced entirely in New Zealand.

Bad Taste is in bad taste and is to Peter Jackson as Shlock is to John Landis.

posted by Herodios at 3:02 PM on July 11, 2013

OK, a couple of movies I don't see mentioned on this one or the previously linked page:

Stickmen (2001) Comedy/Drama about some mates in Wellington's (fictional) seedy billiards underworld.
The World's Fastest Indian (2005) Based on a true story of a noteable Kiwi. Note the "Indian" is a motorcycle, not a person. A fair portion of the movie takes place in the US, though, if scenery is what you're after.
River Queen (2005) Historic drama a la Piano.

And recently New Zealand From Above has been playing on TV down here for the last few weeks, and has some good scenery and factual tidbits.
posted by Metro Gnome at 3:33 PM on July 11, 2013

oops, if I'd clicked Preview I'd see one was mentioned.

But another popped into mind: We're Here To Help (2007) About a guy taking on the IRD - New Zealand's version of the IRS.
posted by Metro Gnome at 3:38 PM on July 11, 2013

Gosh, I'll stop soon, I promise. But my mom loves Second Hand Wedding (2008) About how a garage sale fanatic handles her daughter's upcoming wedding
posted by Metro Gnome at 4:01 PM on July 11, 2013

Brotown as a primer in how NZers, especially Aucklanders of any colour, speak as we do.

Chur chur bro, Morningside 4 Life!
posted by Ripper Minnieton at 4:19 PM on July 11, 2013

Second the Almighty Johnsons (I thought it had been shitcanned... yay for AskMe!).

Black Sheep is a must.

(For Brisbane: see He Died With A Felafel In His Hand - and then read the book)
posted by pompomtom at 4:26 PM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you can find it, try Starlight Hotel.
posted by gudrun at 5:21 PM on July 11, 2013

The Insider's Guide to Happiness was an awesome TV series, no idea if you can get it on Netflix though. It was hard to find in Australia and we're in the same hemisphere. It was fabulous—drama, humour, romance, a bit of philosophy. It is about 10 years old so keep that in mind.

As for Brissie films, try this list. Definitely Felafel and definitely Muriel's Wedding. Haven't seen many of the others.
posted by Athanassiel at 6:00 PM on July 11, 2013

posted by empath at 7:22 PM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Scarfies (released in the USA as Crime 101) is set in Dunedin and gives an awesome picture of what it is like to be a young student in New Zealand (quite accurate apart from the bit about nearly killing a hostage marijuana grower in the basement - although that is not SO far removed from my own student experience either...)
posted by lollusc at 10:38 PM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby was a mildly amusing cringe comedy set in a high school, about a politically incorrect, old fashioned teacher.

Take a look at the site that link sits on. NZonScreen.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:20 AM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

I agree with the recommendations for "Boy", "An Angel at my Table" and others.

48 Shades is set in Brisbane.
posted by h00py at 7:00 AM on July 12, 2013

Goodbye Pork Pie - a classic Kiwi road movie comedy that crosses both islands.
New Zealand from Above - gorgeous scenery!
Once Were Warriors - tough movie to watch but excellent.
posted by exquisite_deluxe at 12:26 PM on July 13, 2013

« Older Feel me   |   Help me help my friend put highlights in her hair! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.