The Catlins coast in the Clutha region of New Zealand served as a “Pete’s Dragon” film location. // © 2016 Tourism New Zealand
Feature image (above): The redwood forest near Rotorua, New Zealand, is now home to a new “Pete’s Dragon” tourist attraction. // © 2016 Tourism New Zealand
Tourism New Zealand officials are hopeful the new remake of the classic Disney movie “Pete’s Dragon” may help inspire U.S. travelers to book a visit Down Under.
Shot on both New Zealand’s North and South Islands, the film centers around an orphaned boy and his best friend, Elliot the dragon. While the story is set in the U.S. Pacific Northwest, a range of diverse New Zealand natural settings served as the scenic locations for the film.
The movie has grossed more than $95 million since it’s opening on Aug. 12, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com.
Tourism New Zealand, meanwhile, debuted a “Disney’s Pete’s Dragon” landing page at NewZealand.com last month, providing travel pros with a range of marketing materials such as a downloadable film locations map, photographs and even video clips — all aimed at helping agents better sell the destination.
“The movie showcases some great parts of the country that are accessible to North American travelers,” said Bjoern Spreitzer, general manager for the Americas and Europe for Tourism New Zealand. “It shows consumers that there is so much to see and do in New Zealand.”
Some of the standout film locations include North Island forests near Rotorua, as well as natural regions around the capital city of Wellington and the South Island destinations of Queenstown and Tapanui.
“One of the biggest stars of the movie is Rotorua’s redwood forest, which is the home of Elliot the dragon in the film,” Spreitzer said. “In real life, there’s a relatively new tourism experience — the Redwoods Treewalk in Rotorua — where you walk amongst the forest on a suspended walkway. It’s also just 10 minutes from Rotorua’s city center, where you’ll find great restaurants, cafes and even geothermal activity.”
Spreitzer notes that a number of tour providers have also added locations used in the movie to their product and package offerings, including Seattle, Wash.-based Down Under Answers and Islands in the Sun.