have been snapped filming an episode of the show in Thailand.' />

Six finalists of New Zealand's Next Top Model have been snapped filming an episode of the show in Thailand.

The girls are Dakota Biddle, Danielle Hayes, Lara Kingsbeer, Courtenay Scott-Hill, Michaela Steenkamp and one of the identical Jenkins twins.

New Zealand's Next Top Model will air its fourth episode on Saturday with 12 contestants officially remaining - putting the Thailand episode more than a month away.

The girls gathered on a film set two weeks ago at Indigo Pearl Hotel, a five-star boutique hotel on Phuket's Nai Yang Beach.

They posed riding and leaning against an elephant, which happily played his part during a seven-hour photoshoot on the white-sand beach.

A guest at the hotel mingled with the crew and later said Danielle had been talked about as the favourite to win the overall contest, while Dakota was most likely to be kicked off that round.

TV3 spokeswoman Nicole Wood said the photos were taken on a private part of the Phuket beach, which the show had paid for to keep filming away from the public.

Hotel security was on-site to create as much of a "closed set" atmosphere as possible for an outdoor shoot, Ms Wood said.

But tourists gathered to watch and take photographs, and some were threatened they could have their cameras confiscated.

A visitor said guests at the hotel had found the production team arrogant and "more than a little inflammatory".

But Ms Wood said the crew's minimal interactions with guests had been to the best of their knowledge incredibly positive.

The team had also received nothing but co-operation from both the hotel staff and management, she said.

New Zealand's Next Top Model, a local adaptation of an American show, began with almost 1000 hopefuls.

The winner receives a contract with 62 Model Management and CoverGirl cosmetics, and an eight-page editorial in Cleo Magazine, among other prizes.

The contest, in its second year, has not been without controversy, with pictures of a near-naked 16-year-old contestant from last week's show put on TV3's website and later altered after concerns were raised.

The Phuket beach that New Zealand's Next Top Model visited has previously hosted Hollywood film crew, including from Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.