New Zealand's a popular place to film fantasy, but not every movie shot here is so well known. Ethan Sills wraps up some of the movies with a 'Made in NZ' sticker slapped on them - and a few we'd like to forget.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

When big blockbusters are filmed here, much is normally made about it. Yet this X-Men prequel isn't usually associated with New Zealand. The much derided Hugh Jackman movie filmed several scenes down in Dunedin, mostly on the farm where James/Logan/Wolverine finds safety post-transformation.

It also goes to show the dangers of directors not paying attention. Fans noticed that the elderly couple Wolverine stays with drive down what would be the right side of the road in America, but an arrow on the road gives away the Kiwi connection.

Kid's World

A lot of random family movies get filmed here. It seems everyone I know had a sibling who appeared in the background of Bridge to Terabithia¸ but it isn't the only obscure kid's movie to end up on our shores. Kid's World, an early '90s movie, follows a group of American kids who enjoy freedom when all the world's adults mysteriously disappear.

A scene from the Kid's World trailer
A scene from the Kid's World trailer

The only notable star is Christopher Lloyd, and the film has largely faded into obscurity. It was filmed in Auckland, but instead of showcasing our scenery, you get to see children skateboarding through the Meadowbank Shopping Centre.



If New Zealand isn't standing in for some fantastical kingdom, then our country apparently makes a great substitute for Japan. Tom Cruise notably filmed The Last Samurai here back in 2003, but a second Japan-based movie was also filmed here.

Emperor is a true story about America's arrest of Japanese war criminals post World War II, and stars Tommy Lee Jones and Matthew Fox. Setting fantasy movies and TV shows here is a complement to our scenery, but is our country so outdated we look like post-war time Japan? At least it's more contemporary compared to the next one on the list ...


It's probably nice that people think of New Zealand when it comes to filming, but viewing the open plains around Southland as a perfect place to film a movie about cavemen feels slightly insulting.

The film, from Independence Day director Roland Emmerich, features local actor Cliff Curtis, and largely appears to be a sort of prehistorical Gladiator with a lot more woolly mammoths. The film was mostly shot overseas, but location shooting was done in the South Island. At the very least, it goes to show the diversity of filming locations our country has to offer, but on the other hand ... mammoths and cavemen, really?

Disney Channel movies (there are a lot of them)

No one seems to love our country more than the Disney Channel. There must be some sort of tax credit that makes Disney send their stars halfway around the world to shoot largely unmemorable movies. Whatever the reason, the kids channel really likes filming their original movies here.

'Notable' films they've shot here include Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior, Johnny Kapahla: Back on Board, which starred a young Rose McIver, You Wish!, with a cameo appearance from Auckland's Metro Centre, and Avalon High, starring Britt Robertson before she found fame opposite George Clooney in Tomorrowland. There isn't really any reason why these were filmed here, but they presumably employed a lot of people, so at least that's something.