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April 9, 2018 | by  | in Arts Film |
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Wellington in Film

(This is not exactly a film review.)

So you’ve probably been in Wellington for a little while now. Maybe the lure of Wellington’s (very glamorous) film scene drew you here. A lot of movies are filmed in and around Wellington. Most of those movies are not actually set in Wellington.

Here’s a ranked list of Wellington film locations. Some of them are cool. (Some of them are not.)

Lower Victoria St, CBD (Ghost in the Shell) — 0/5 stars

2017’s Ghost in the Shell was controversial for many reasons, but being shot in Wellington wasn’t one of them. Victoria St looks unrecognisable in one of the action scenes from the film. Without the elaborate set dressing and colour correction, it’s just a street.

Mitre 10 Mega, Petone (Krampus) — 2/5 stars

The opening scene of Krampus is set in this humble store — though it was transformed into the more Americanized “Mucho Mart” to maintain historical accuracy. Considering it’s the only part of the film that ventures beyond the confines of a soundstage, it’s probably very important. I’ve never actually been there.

Mt Victoria (Lord of the Rings/Pete’s Dragon) — 3/5 stars

The very first footage for Lord of the Rings was shot on this prominent mountain in 1999. Since then, the mountain has been used in other movies, such as Pete’s Dragon, and in many a student film. While Mt Victoria is lovely (and very spooky on a misty day), it is also just a steep hill, and the bits that look like Lord of the Rings were trampled by tourists long ago.

Lyall Bay (Lord of the Rings/King Kong) — 3.5/5 stars

Iconic scenes of Skull Island from 2005’s King Kong (that’s the King Kong film that’s three and a half hours long) were shot on this south Wellington beach. It is gorgeous on a good day and has a damn good cafe, but you’re not going to see any giant monsters when you head out there (hopefully).

Red Rocks (Lord of the Rings) — 3.5/5 stars

Yet more scenes from Lord of the Rings were filmed out here. If you head south through Brooklyn and follow the longest road in the world down to the sea, you’ll hit Red Rocks. While the place may not be immediately obvious in the film — I wouldn’t know, I’ve never actually seen any of them — it’s got some nice walks, stunning scenery and fur seals in the winter, so it’s good even if you’re not there for the movie tie-in. 

Wellington Railway Station (Goodbye Pork Pie/Pork Pie) — 4/5 stars

One of the most iconic scenes in 1981’s Goodbye Pork Pie (and the 2017 remake) is when the yellow Mini drives up the front steps of the Railway Station and onto a train. The place is awesome enough even without a mad car chase taking place in it. (I’m mainly ranking it so high because I’m in approximately five minutes of that film.)

(the now dead) Boogie Wonderland, CBD (What We Do in the Shadows)  — 5/5 stars

My favourite bar in Wellington used to be Boogie Wonderland. Although it was alarmingly close to Estab, it had a charm and a selection of music that appealed to my disco-loving soul, as well as disco balls that every fresher used to try to steal. The vampires in Shadows loved it too. RIP Boogie. You’re gone, but will remain forever in my heart.

While there are many other filming locations in Wellington, a lot of them tend to be on soundstages, illegal to access, or condemned. Honestly, if you’re just wanting to make a quick buck, you could probably tell some tourists that parts of Lord of the Rings were filmed in your backyard.

(It’s technically true.)

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