With the release of new Disney film ‘Pete’s Dragon,’ a New Zealand vacation has never looked so good. Showcasing some of the most beautiful and iconic scenery in the country, Pete’s Dragon filming locations include many recognisable places originally celebrated for their appearance in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit film trilogies.
From the towering Redwood Forests in Rotorua to the snow capped mountains of Queenstown, New Zealand's diverse scenery provides the ultimate backdrop for this endearing family tale. So immerse yourself in the making of the film, and be sure to visit these key locations while you're here.
Most of the forest scenes were shot in the Whakarewarewa Forest, home to magnificent Californian Redwoods. A popular mountain biking and hiking destination, the main walking trail offers sweeping views over the lakes and thermal wonders of Rotorua.
For a truly spectacular experience we recommend the doing the ‘Redwoods Treewalk,’ taking you right into the upper reaches of the treetops. With 23 bridges suspended 12 metres above the ground you’ll get a true dragon's-eye view.
Other things to do while you're in Rotorua. A popular tourist destination, Rotorua is renowned for its many geothermal and cultural attractions. We recommend visiting the Mitai Maori Village for a insight into New Zealand’s indigenous culture and Wai-O-Tapu thermal wonderland to experience steaming geysers, colorful sulphur attractions and boiling mud pools.
The main production hub for Pete’s Dragon, Wellington is also home to Weta Digital, the visual effects company behind the Lord of The Rings and Hobbit Trilogies. Much of the film’s computer generated imagery was done here - including bringing to life ‘Elliot’ the dragon. Visit the Weta Workshop and go behind the scenes to see movie props, prosthetics and special effects artists at work. You can also visit the Weta Cave - a mini museum of props, costumes and life-size movie characters.
One memorable scene - where Pete makers the leap off the cliff, only to land on Elliot's back - was filmed just 30 minutes out of Wellington at Battle Hill Farm Park. A popular spot for walking and biking, Battle Hill is also a designated camping area, so you can stay overnight in this popular film location.
Other things to do while you’re in Wellington. Described as the Coolest little Capital in the world, Wellington is a vibrant metropolitan hub. Visit one of its many laneway cafes, and be sure to see Te-Papa, New Zealand’s national museum. Jump aboard the Wellington Cable Car at Lambton Quay, the only running funicular railway in the country. We also recommend visiting Zealandia Wildlife park - the world's first fully fenced eco-sanctuary.
Known as New Zealand’s adventure capital, alpine resort - Queenstown - is a lively tourist destination renowned for its picture perfect snow capped mountains. The scene where Pete watches as Elliot the Dragon appears from beneath a cliff top to fly over him was filmed just below the Remarkables Mountains. Further shooting was done at Deer Park Heights, a private farm 20 minutes out of central Queenstown.
Most of the aerial sequences were also filmed here with local helicopter company Glacier Southern Lakes. Visitors have the chance to take their own aerial adventure with the same company offering daily scenic rides and private charters.
Other things to do while you're in Queenstown. A 30 minute drive from Queenstown, on the ‘most beautiful stretch of road’ in the world is Glenorchy - gateway to the small hamlet of Paradise. Well worth a visit, there are many opportunities to jet boat, horse ride or visit some of the Lord of the Rings film locations. Spend time on the Gibbston Valley wine trail or catch a ride on the 100 year old steamship the ‘TSS Earnslaw.’ For an adrenaline rush head out on the Shotover Jet, dive off the Nevis bungy or canyon swing, or Zip Line the Gondola.
Just a two and a half hour drive from Queenstown is the rural area of Tapanui. This picturesque location was transformed into Millhaven, a small logging town in America’s Pacific Northwest. Filming also took place at nearby Conical Hill, the site of a disused sawmill. While much of the set has been taken down, the main street is instantly recognisable as being from the movie.
Tapanui is surrounded by gently rolling farmland and is known for its world class fishing. Most of its rivers are brimming with brown trout and salmon, including the Pomahaka River - thought to have some of the biggest brown trout in the world.
Other things to do in Tapanui. Tapanui is close to the Otago Rail Trail - one of New Zealand’s great rides. A 73 km cycling trail tracking New Zealand’s gold mining history. The ride takes you through spectacular scenery and over 20 of New Zealand’s rural mining towns. The Otago Coastline is another must do while you're here . Visit Nugget Point- home to a variety of native wildlife including New Zealand fur seals, sea lions and yellow eyed penguins. And if you're really lucky you might even spot a dolphin or two.