The hit movie Pete’s Dragon, about an orphaned boy and his best friend Elliot the dragon, was filmed throughout the North and South Islands of New Zealand, showing off the country’s diverse landscapes. Check out these New Zealand filming locations that you can visit right now:
- The Rotorua Redwood Forest (North Island): Home of Elliot the Dragon and where Pete comes across his mysterious new friend, the 110-year-old trees of the Rotorua Redwood Forest tower above the forest floor and the numerous tracks and trails are popular with walkers and bikers. For a dragon’s-eye view of the forest floor below, the new Redwood Forest Treewalk takes you high above ground to stroll among giants.
- Wellington (North Island): Just 30 minutes out of Wellington is Battle Hill Farm Park, where Pete makes the leap off a cliff only to land on Elliot’s back. The park is a popular spot for walkers and cyclers and there are designated camping areas so you can stay overnight. Wellington is also home to Weta Workshops, which played an important role in bringing Disney’s Pete’s Dragon to life. Film fans can meet members of the creative team on Weta Workshop tours and see first-hand how they create jaw-dropping special effects.
- Queenstown (South Island): Situated on the shores of Lake Wakatipu beneath the Remarkables mountain range, Queenstown’s beautiful lakes and snowy alps are picture-perfect for a flight on the back of a dragon. Take your own leap off the edge, much like Pete in the film, with AJ Hackett Bungy, home of the world’s first commercial bungy operation.
- Tapanui (South Island): This small town with a population of 900 was transformed into the Millhaven, a small logging town in America’s Pacific Northwest, for Disney’s Pete’s Dragon. Tapanui is renowned for its incredible fishing in rivers brimming with brown trout and salmon. The Pomahaka River offers world class fishing with some of the biggest brown trout to be found anywhere in the world. If fishing isn’t your thing, grab a bike and jump on the Clutha Gold Trail, one of the New Zealand Cycle Trail’s Great Rides.
- Waiheke (North Island): While it wasn’t used as a filming location, cast members Bryce Dallas Howard and Wes Bentley chose to take their families to this island escape during their down-time. Surrounded by the waters of Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, Waiheke Island has earned international acclaim for its beautiful white sandy beaches and boasts a thriving food scene, an eclectic mix of artists, New Zealand’s most coveted vineyards and an extensive list of boutique and luxury accommodation. The families both stayed at The Pah, one of Waiheke’s top lodges, where Bryce enjoyed beach time with her children while Wes tried out the Ecozip, a series of ziplines with views out to the sea and across vineyards down into lush native Waiheke bush forest.
Plan your own Pete’s Dragon themed New Zealand getaway at newzealand.com.