I don’t think I need to explain the many reasons New Zealand deserves to be the setting of an upcoming season of The White Lotus but hey, it’s Christmas and, unlike literally everything else these days, dreams are still free, so, in the spirit of putting the good vibes out there, I’m hereby launching the very unofficial tourism campaign to get Mike White to film a season of The White Lotus in Aotearoa (okay, the current campaign name is a bit of a mouthful, I’ll keep working at it).
Listen, it’s been more than 20 years since the first Lord of the Rings movie came out (but I still remember it like it was yesterday, because none of my friends could shut the hell up about it). We have been through a lot since then. Earthquakes, volcano eruptions, cronuts, our Caramilk era, the Baby Shark craze and the Covid pandemic, to name a few calamities. I am absolutely convinced the one thing New Zealand needs to get back to its past glory is to shed its skin as old-time LOTR land and re-emerge on the world stage as “that place where they filmed The White Lotus” and - if it’s not asking too much, maybe the place where the plot twists and we find out Tanya survived and is living her best life in Te Awamutu.
I know that we’re not exactly in a creative drought here and that many other big productions have been filmed in the country since then but I think we can all agree that nothing has reached quite the soaring heights of the LOTR trilogy - and I believe The White Lotus is the one thing that could change that.
The town of Taormina, in Sicily, is still reaping the benefits of being the setting of season 2 of the critically-acclaimed show, reportedly booked out until April 2023. From Kaitaia to Bluff, there are plenty of towns that could - and should! - be the next Taormina.
So convinced I am of the viability of this extremely unofficial tourism campaign, I have taken the liberty of doing some of Mike White’s homework for him and jotted down a few options for locations for an upcoming season of The White Lotus.
Sicily is beautiful and all but there’s nothing quite like the lush New Zealand scenery and the country has some incredible high-end resorts and lodges where we could picture Aubrey Plaza’s character Harper on holiday again, probably without her husband this time, maybe on a girls’ trip with Daphne (played by Meghann Fahy).
I asked content creators and New Zealand travel experts Dane and Stacey what they thought of the idea and I’m happy to say we’ve got us some unofficial campaign ambassadors behind it as they are obviously very clever people who see the potential this has for the country as a whole.
“We think New Zealand would make an incredible location for The White Lotus season 3,” they said. “A pretty obvious selling point would be just how bloody beautiful our country is! We spent years travelling abroad, but coming home was eye-opening, there’s nothing quite like the scenery in New Zealand.”
“But there’s another reason we think The White Lotus would be perfect to shoot here — that classic Kiwi hospitality would translate hilariously to the show. Friendly but diligent and cheeky but professional, it’s the best,” the NZ content creators added.
Because I’m more of a Top 10 Holiday Park gal myself, I asked a couple of experts on high-end travel for their thoughts on where this future season of the HBO drama should take place.
The Herald’s travel editor Steph Holmes had some really great suggestions, including:
The Lindis, Ahuriri Valley
This is a very exclusive lodge nestled in Canterbury’s Ahuriri Valley. It has lodge accommodation but also some swanky mirrored-glass pods in the middle of the valley. Guests can go horse-riding, fly-fishing, bike-riding and even relax in a hot tub under the stars.
The only way into Minaret Station is by helicopter, which makes this a super-exclusive spot for the uber-rich. Its stunning, rugged landscape would make a really beautiful backdrop to all the high-stakes drama that would unfold there.
Lots of hunting and fishing gear here so no shortage of potential murder weapons to fit with the plot. There’s also a safari-themed room in the main lodge with lots of hunting trophies - buffalo heads, stuffed antelope, that kind of thing. The river right next to the lodge gives a moody feel to the whole setting, fitting for the drama that is about to unfold.
Mudbrick at Waiheke
Another stunning property to showcase New Zealand’s natural beauty as the backdrop for something sinister. The cottages at the top of the property on a hill overlook the island and out to the Hauraki Gulf so, while you’re a hop, skip and a jump away (or a ferry ride and an uber or an airport shuttle ride) from a mad dash to the airport, you’ll still get the feeling of being somewhere really remote.
The Carlin, Queenstown
The people of The White Lotus are very rich. Some are old money, some are new money, but all of them have a lot of what my daughter likes to call “dollar bucks”. For these people, a five-star hotel might not be enough. That’s totally fine. We’ve got a six-star option for them.
The Carlin won best boutique hotel at a recent global awards and, once you look at the photos, you can easily understand why. You can just picture some real drama taking place in one of those penthouse suites with private hot tubs and views out to the lake.
Aro Ha in Glenorchy
Instead of a hotel or a lodge, there is also the option of filming that season of The White Lotus at a wellness retreat. Aro Ha in Glenorchy has rooms for couples and singles. All the food is vegan and sugar-free, and there is no booze but also no caffeine (which, as Steph puts it, could definitely lead to murder).
Days at Aro Ha involve lots of exercise, mindfulness, workshops, and hikes through stunning locations. But - dun, dun, dun - which character does not make it back from one of them? (DM me anytime for further plot ideas, Mike!)
If a wellness retreat doesn’t fit with the plot, can we perhaps interest The White Lotus creative team in a small-ship cruise? The Fiordland Jewel takes a maximum of 18 guests out to the most remote parts of Doubtful and Dusky Sound on a small boat expedition cruise. But do all 18 characters come back?
Bay of Many Coves, Marlborough
Dane and Stacey suggested the Bay of Many Coves would be a great location for a White Lotus season and, judging by their description, I have to agree: “It’s luxurious, private, heli / boat accessible, amazing food, kayaking on the doorstep, a restaurant and bar... we can see a drunk guest falling off the pier already and being rescued by a dripping wet staff member on a paddle board.”
So this is our pitch, Mike White. “White Lotus Aotearoa 2023″. Or 2024, doesn’t matter. But it needs to happen. Please get back to us at your earliest convenience.