Since the early 1990s, New Zealand has been creating excellent movies that rival even those of Hollywood in their own unique way. The Kiwis have a dark sense of humour and stunning local views, which make for some excellent filming opportunities and movies that have an unforgettable atmosphere to them. Think Lord of the Rings, Black Sheep, and the 1981 classic Goodbye Pork Pie.
With that said, only a handful of NZ-produced movies can be named the best films that the country has created to date. New Zealand betting sites are a great source of entertainment, but the nation’s home-made films can rival them any day. Here are our 5 favourite flicks – but remember that there are plenty of others to explore as well!
#5: What We Do in the Shadows (2014)
Hollywood and its supporters have long been obsessed with vampires. Franchises like Twilight, Underworld, Blade and more have revived this popular theme time and time again, and in 2014 even New Zealand came to the vampire party. What We Do in the Shadows was a collaboration between Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement that used awkward comedy and classic Kiwi culture to tell a proudly New Zealand vampire tale.
The movie is based on a mockumentary format and follows the lives of 4 vampires in Wellington, who are living together in a rented suburban home. The vamps spend each night hunting for prey – but whether they actually find any is another story. The film has done so well internationally that it helped to shape Kiwi comedy in the eyes of the world, while also providing a different angle to the worn-out, overly romantic vamp films of the ‘10s.
#4: Black Sheep (2006)
Directed by Jonathan King, Black Sheep is another Kiwi film that showcases the locals’ knack for off-colour humour and entertainingly bizarre subject matter. 15 years after his father’s death, Harry Oldfield returns to his childhood sheep farm after his brother Angus buys the patent for his genetically engineered breed of sheep.
Environmentalist Grant is soon bitten by one of the sheep embryos, spawning a zombie-esque crowd of people and farm animals alike. Harry, Tucker and Experience team up to save themselves and find a disposed antidote in a hilariously violent comedy-horror creation.
#3: Heavenly Creatures (1994)
This Peter Jackson film is very different to his usual gory comedies. The movie was inspired by a true story, and explores a troubled relationship between teens Pauline Parker and Juliet Hume in 1950s Christchurch. Events culminate in the pair murdering Parker’s mother, which was fuelled by their fantasy escape world that soon begins to distort their perceptions of the real world.
Jackson consulted with doctors, psychiatrists, local police, and even Parker’s diary to give the film a realistic feel.
#2: The Piano (1993)
Jane Campion’s film brings Kiwi history to an international stage in a beautiful but tragic story of oppression and love. It is set in the mid-19th century during NZ’s colonisation, and follows the journey of mute piano player Ada McGrath as she is sold into marriage to a cold and emotionless frontiersman. She finds solace only in playing the piano.
The movie includes stars like Anna Paquin in her first role, Sam Niel, Holly Hunter and Harvey Keitel, and has won multiple major awards to date.
#1: Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-2003)
Directed by Peter Jackson and featuring an all-star cast that includes Ian McKellen, Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Viggo Mortensen and Hugo Weaving, the Lord of the Rings trilogy of films is one of the most popular and successful movie collections ever released.
All 3 iconic films were shot in New Zealand, and follow the adventures of Gandalf, Frodo, Bilbo and Sam as they trek far and wide across Middle Earth to destroy the One Ring. The film was also one of the most ambitious filming projects ever undertaken, carrying a hefty budget of $281 million. Luckily, the gamble paid off – the movies are some of the highest grossing ($2.9 billion) of all time!