Travel Notebook

Hobbington movie set

Iconic Movie Locations in Our Favorite Spots

What’s better than sinking into the sofa at day’s end, putting up your feet and cueing up a favorite film or TV show for a relaxing evening? While that does sound wonderful, we think, too, that it would be pretty spectacular to actually find yourself on the very location where your beloved movies and shows are shot … whether that’s a nearby city or far-flung destination. It just so happens that several of our Rebecca Recommends clients have connections to these set-worthy spots, allowing us (and other avid fans) an inside look at where our favorite moving-picture moments come alive. Here, a few to check out, thanks to our friends at Original Travel UK and Southern Crossings.

Film-Worthy UK

Ely Cathedral, where Queen's Coronation in The Crown was filmed.
Ely Cathedral, where Queen’s Coronation in The Crown was filmed. Photo credit: Michael Beckwith

The United Kingdom gives Hollywood a run for its money with numerous movie and television sets all across the nation. Game of Thrones fans thrill to the chance to seek their inner-Stark and head to its homeland in Northern Ireland. Immerse yourself in some of The Seven Kingdoms’ most famous filming locations starting in Londonderry and traveling all along the stunning Causeway Coast and Glens to Belfast. OTUK can arrange a trip that includes the region’s beautiful forests, national parks, small coastal villages and finest beaches.

Those with Paddington lovers in the family will adore hopping from location to location in London, remembering scenes from 2017’s Paddington 2. Littles ones and their grown-ups will tour the world’s largest antiques market on Portobello Road, wind through Little Venice’s picturesque canal paths, learn a bit of history at London Paddington Station and visit Tower Bridge, Hyde Park, St. Paul’s Cathedral and Primrose Hill.

You can almost hear the music swelling around you as you saddle up and enjoy a horseback-riding adventure in Devon’s Dartmoor National Park, the beautiful moorland filming location of War Horse. Of course, your experience includes regular tea breaks and a quintessential British picnic. Perhaps you’ll unwind for the evening at Hotel Endsleigh, where director Steven Spielberg stayed during the movie’s filming.

There’s nary one among us who can resist the Netflix royal sensation, The Crown, now filming its highly anticipated third season. Visit Ely Cathedral, the actual filming location for The Queen’s coronation, as well as Buckingham Palace and The Tower of London, to admire the real-life Crown Jewels.

Famous Sets of New Zealand

The Shire from the Lord of the Rings on the Hobbiton Movie Set. Photo credit: Brian
The Shire from the Lord of the Rings on the Hobbiton Movie Set in New Zealand. Photo credit: Brian

Whether you’re a seasoned traveler, movie buff or fantasy novel fan, it should come as no surprise that New Zealand’s breathtaking scenery lures Hollywood’s biggest filmmakers. One of the country’s perks is that everything is relatively close, inviting filmmakers to capture vastly different landscapes and color palettes within a short timeframe.

Wanaka – one of New Zealand’s most Instagrammed spots for its magical scenery framed by Mount Aspring National Park – is just an hour’s drive from Queenstown. Look for familiar spots from the sci-fi blockbuster A Wrinkle in Time starring Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon. (Foodies might recognize scenery from Cooking Through the Seasons with Annabel Langbein, as well.)

Of course, the most notable film series shot in New Zealand in recent memory is Lord of the Rings. Nelson is home of the One Ring, Chetwood Forest and Dimrill Dale. Jens Hansen, the goldsmith responsible for creating the 40 different rings used in production, resides here and one of the original rings is on display (copies can be bought in 9 and 18ct gold). Helicopter in to where the fellowship hid from Saruman’s black crows and fly close to Mount Olympus and Mount Owen. As you get a bird’s-eye view of the region’s three national parks – Abel Tasman, Nelson Lakes and Kahurangi – you’ll appreciate the rugged challenges the film crew faced in such a harsh alpine environment.

The list continues. In Wellington, visit the sites of the Gardens of Isengard, the River Anduin, Rivendell, Osgiliath Wood and Paths of the Dead. Visit the exact location in Kaitoke Regional Park that was used for the Rivendell spot where Frodo recovered from the knife attack. Drive up the west coast to Queen Elizabeth Park near Paraparaumu, which was used for filming the Nazgul and mumakil in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. Farther up the coast is Waitarere Forest (Osgiliath Wood), where Frodo, Sam and Gollum walked after leaving Faramir. A drive over the hills to the Wairarapa region will take you to the eerie Putangirua Pinnacles, where Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli sought the Paths of the Dead.

Fiordland is home to the River Anduin and Fangorn Forest – remote cameras were strung from high wires to film Aragorn moving through the trees. In the Southern Lakes region, look for familiar spots such as Ford of Bruinen, Gandalf’s ride, Isengard and Lothlorien. And in Queenstown and Arrowtown, drive over the Crown Range Road to the Cardrona Valley before heading to the summit of Mount Cardona for a panoramic view of Middle Earth.

Don’t leave the area without a stop in The Shire and Hobbiton movie set, set in Matamata. It has been rebuilt for the filming of The Hobbit Trilogy and will remain as a permanent attraction.

Australia on the Silver Screen

Shooting location for Mission Impossible II, near the Sydney Harbour for scenes shot on Bradley's head.
Shooting location for Mission Impossible II, near the Sydney Harbour for scenes shot on Bradley’s head. Photo credit: Saberwyn

From blockbusting feature films to long-running television series, memorable music videos to show-stopping advertisements, producers and cinematographers have been drawn to Australia by its vibrant cities, idyllic rural countryside, unspoiled tropical beaches and vast outback moonscapes. From Kakadu to Sydney, Western Australia to Tasmania, and many more locations in between – almost every corner of the Australian continent has been featured on the big screen. Here are a few moments you might recognize:

  • The Great Gatsby (2013) – Leonardo Di Caprio’s Gatsby mansion is better known to locals as St. Patrick’s Seminary, overlooking Manly Beach in Sydney 
  • Chronicles of Narnia, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010) – filmed on the Gold Coast and Mt. Tamborine hinterlands
  • Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken (2014) set at sea off the coast of Brisbane or on Sydney Harbour’s Cockatoo Island posing as a Japanese prisoner of war camp
  • Peter Rabbit (2018) – filmed in Sydney’s Centennial Park
  • Mission Impossible II (2000) – showcases Tom Cruise’s escapades on and around Sydney Harbour (Southern Crossings Australia can arrange a luxury cruise on the harbour, a helicopter scenic flight over the city, a stay at a posh mansion or hotel on the waterfront!)
  • Lion (2016) featuring Hobart, Bruny Island and the spectacular Tasman Peninsula as Saroo’s adopted home. (To follow in Nicole Kidman, David Wenham and Dev Patel’s footsteps, visitors can cruise from Hobart to sample some of Tasmania’s freshest produce on Bruny Island or can walk the new Three Capes Lodge Track that follows the spectacular coastlines of the Tasman Peninsula.)

For the veteran movie buffs out there, unmissably Australian classics include:

Kakadu Yellow Waters, where Crocodile Dundee was shot. Photo credit : Stuart Edwards
  • The Man from Snowy River (1982) where Kirk Douglas and Tom Burlinson helped showcase some of Australia’s most picturesque high country. (Visitors to Australia’s high country can ski in the winter months and join multi-day horseback rides.)
  • Crocodile Dundee (1986) in which Paul Hogan and Linda Kozlowski really put Australia’s Northern Territory on the map … and added Kakadu to many travelers’ bucket lists.

(Visitors who wish to follow in Mick Dundee’s footsteps can stay in comfort glamping at Bamurru Plains or venture into Arnhem land to cruise with crocodiles, be mesmerized by endless landscapes and enjoy a window into Australia’s unique indigenous culture.)

… and there’s more yet to come with Aquaman (following the adventures of Arthur Curry, King of Atlantis, and member of the Justice League) filmed in South East Queensland, set to be released in the US in December 2018.

Ready to get up from that sofa and see for yourself why these picture-perfect locations were worthy of some of the world’s best film and television productions? Let us put you in touch with the experts at Original Travel UK and Southern Crossings Australia and New Zealand, who can help arrange an Oscar-worthy oeuvre of your own.