© Paul Mercer

Mt Burnett - © Paul Mercer

New Zealand’s spectacular mountains and glaciers, accessible locations, and highly skilled mountain film industry make New Zealand the ideal location for shooting snow. 

With a production track-record in drama, documentary, TVCs and snowsports; and doubling for everything from the Himalayas (Vertical Limit) to Middle-earth (Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit), our mountains offer filmmakers a stunning backdrop for their production:

Malai Kesar Winter Rugby - Joyride Films
Beyond the Edge - © GFC (Everest) Ltd 

Advantages

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The relatively low elevation of New Zealand’s mountains presents major advantages over similar terrain in other parts of the world:

Snow Effects

New Zealand also has expertise in shooting winter effects both in the studio and on location. Companies such as Film Effect Co Limited have been providing artificial snow and winter effects for the past three decades, and stock more than 80 different types of snow and ice products and state of the art delivery systems. If you need snow New Zealand has it covered.

Image: Film Effects from 30 Days of Night 

Infrastructure

snow_infraestrctureMap.pngNew Zealand’s highest mountain range, the Southern Alps, runs almost the length of the South Island, encompassing numerous regions and national parks.

Many productions locate in the Southern Lakes district with major crew bases in the resort towns of Queenstown (with its international airport) and nearby Wanaka. Both offer ready access to the mountains, accommodation (13,000 3-5 star beds in Queenstown alone), quality restaurants and service providers. Aoraki Mt Cook Village, adjacent to New Zealand’s tallest peak, is also popular.

Locations

Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park

  • Location for New Zealand’s highest mountain, 12,316ft (3,754m) Aoraki/Mt Cook
  • 26 peaks over 10,000ft (3,280m)
  • well known around the world as a major climbing region
  • access to the Tasman Glacier, New Zealand’s longest glacier

Westland National Park Glaciers

  • located on the western side of the Mt Cook region
  • home to the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers
  • four-hour drive from Queenstown or 20 minute flight from Mt Cook Village
  • numerous peaks at the head of the glaciers

Mt Aspiring National Park

  • lies South of Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park
  • the highest peak is Mount Aspiring (3,033m) known as ‘the Matterhorn of the South’ due to its sharp angular aspects and being uncrowded by other peaks
  • has similar attributes to the Aoraki/Mt Cook region but is smaller in scale
  • most suitable for smaller crews and second unit shooting
  • Isobel Glacier offers a large flat area with gradual slopes

The Remarkables Mountain Range

  • directly above Queenstown and accessible by road
  • a wide variety of aspects and terrain
  • frequently utilized for mountain filming projects

Snow Farm

  • expansive wide open snow-covered landscapes
  • has a small ski resort and winter tyre-testing facility
  • numerous buildings used for cover
  • road-accessible
  • regularly utilised for snow-based commercials and films

Queenstown

  • a popular resort town and the main hub of the Southern Lakes region
  • well-established infrastructure
  • concentration of experienced personnel
  • has an international airport only minutes from the town centre making access to locations and the rest of New Zealand is quick and easy.

Image courtesy of Destination Queenstown

Wanaka

  • services the many ski resorts in the region
  • one hour’s drive north of Queenstown
  • close to Mt Aspiring National Park

 Image courtesy of Lake Wanaka Tourism

Mt Cook Village

  • within Mt Cook National Park on the eastern side of the Southern Alps
  • accessed via state highway road network in 3-4 hours from Christchurch or three hours from Queenstown
  • hotel and motel accommodation and a small domestic airport.

Image courtesy of The Hermitage Hotel

Snow farm image -  (to be made as per design)

Snow Farm

Snow Farm is a film-friendly purpose-built facility at altitude for cross-country skiing, international car testing and snowmaking.

It has good road access and on-site facilities for your production base (with phone and internet access), less than one hour’s drive from Queenstown International Airport. In 2006 the feature film 10,000 BC was shot extensively on location at Snow Farm.

Visit website

Weather

Because of the nearby Tasman Sea the weather in the Southern Alps is changeable, but frontal systems usually pass through quickly. Mt Cook village and the towns of Wanaka and Queenstown are on the eastern side of the range, where the weather is usually better.

 

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Crew, Equipment and Services

There is a sizeable community of screen professionals in the region supporting the buoyant commercials industry. The Queenstown region offers a variety of hire equipment from cameras and aerial photography to vehicle rental to accommodate most large film projects. Mobile catering with expertise in mountain locations feeds as many as 600 people in remote locations.

Road Access

The five ski resorts in the Queenstown Lakes region offer road access to a wide variety of user-friendly locations offering full facilities within an hour’s drive from the many hotels, restaurants and equipment providers in Wanaka and Queenstown.

Helicopters image - to be made as per design

Helicopters

Boasting one of the highest numbers of choppers per capita in the world, the region has several fleets of well-maintained B2 and B3 Squirrel (Astar) helicopters.

Our world-renowned pilots have a wealth of experience working with Wescam and Spacecam. Helicopters allow crews access to an array of established heli-ski locations, and classic mountain terrain; big, steep, glaciated mountains, sheer rock faces and glaciers.

Permitting

Department_of_Conservation_New_Zealand_logo.pngMuch of New Zealand’s mountains, national parks and conservation areas are managed by the Department of Conservation (DOC). DOC is supportive and experienced in working with major film projects.

A film permit must be applied for, detailing (for example) numbers of crew, access routes, potential impacts on the site and mitigation and safety plans. Local authorities and regional film offices assist with permitting in their regions and can help streamline the process.

Other areas include leasehold property managed by high country stations, and city and town locations administered by the local councils.

 

Mountain safety

uiagm.pngNew Zealand has a well-established community of experienced mountain guides qualified under the International Federation of Mountain Guides Association, and safety experts with intimate knowledge of the local mountains and specific regional conditions. Equally, the industry is supported by trained mountain medics with search and rescue backup in Queenstown, Wanaka and Aoraki Mt Cook.

Weather cover

When the weather is unsuitable for filming outdoors, cover options are available, with warehouse conversion spaces in Wanaka and Queenstown and Snow Farm.

For more information, get in touch.

© 2017 New Zealand Film Commission

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