Discover James Cameron’s New Zealand

Celebrated filmmaker, writer, explorer and environmentalist James Cameron has become a passionate advocate for New Zealand.

'You throw a stick in the air; it falls on something great in New Zealand.' James Cameron

Celebrated filmmaker, writer, explorer and environmentalist James Cameron has become a passionate advocate for New Zealand – the country where he has chosen to establish a home.

In a new video clip shot in New Zealand, Cameron appears with his wife Suzy Amis Cameron in several locations – hiking through an ancient forest on the Routeburn Track, exploring an ice cave on the Tasman Glacier, cycling beside Lake Pukaki, kayaking through a Dart River canyon – discovering natural wonders and revealing his deep appreciation for the people and country where he lives and works.

Four years ago, the Camerons established a family home on a coastal farm near the capital city of Wellington and now divide their time between their homes in New Zealand and California.

The Canadian-born film director, who has 11 major blockbuster movies to his name, says that he takes “inspiration from any kind of natural place that I go. Nature’s imagination is so boundless compared to our own meagre human imagination.”

Here are James Cameron’s top tips for an inspiring holiday, and a list of 10 great experiences to include in your New Zealand holiday.

James Cameron’s top tips for an inspiring holiday

  • Take in the outdoors: “I always say nature’s imagination is unlimited, it’s infinite. When you see something you have never seen before, it’s a wonderful experience. It's like a living painting. It's never the same. It's never the same view two days in a row.”
  • Do as the locals do: “Talk to the locals and find out where to go and you can just get away. If you treat them with respect you make a friend. They’ll show you some things that they don’t show everybody.”
  • View from the top: “Where and when you can, find an activity that enables you to take in a view from the top – helicopter rides, mountain climbs or hikes to the top of a hill. The clouds are different, the quality of the light on the land is different and the weather’s different. You can really appreciate where you are in the world when you’re sitting on top of it.”  
  • Take a self-drive holiday: “Just driving around you can’t go wrong. Just drive around and feel it. It will be just beautiful, the country will unroll toward you like an IMAX movie.”

James Cameron’s top five experiences in New Zealand’s South Island

“I fell in love with the South Island first so I felt drawn here. It’s pretty hard to say where the best places are because there’s so many. You throw a stick in the air it falls on something great in this country. If I had to choose my top five it would be:

1. Kaikoura: It’s an amazing place. There’s a deep valley under the ocean there so there’s an upswelling of nutrients and the place is just going crazy offshore. You’ve got dolphins, pilot whales and sperm whales feeding on squid down in the Kaikoura Canyon so you can see just about every kind of marine life in there.

2. Fiordland: Take a scenic flight across Fiordland, one of the most dramatic and beautiful regions of the South Island. The views of Fiordland from the air are just breathtaking. There are spectacular mountains and waterfalls absolutely everywhere but especially around places like Milford Sound.

3. Abel Tasman National Park: It’s not difficult to find great hikes in Abel Tasman National Park. You can kayak in the ocean before you start your hike in the forest. You can do both in one day because everything is fairly close together.

4. Queenstown: If you’re looking for something more adventurous, jet-boat around Queenstown – there are so many variations available to choose from. I think adventure is in the genes of this country. The jet-boat was invented here and every personal watercraft, every jet ski in the world, is all derived from the DNA of that.

5. Christchurch: Rent a car and just start driving around Christchurch. It’s amazing and if you drive in October, everything is in bloom, all the wild flowers are on the hills and there’s so much colour. The locals are also just so easy to talk to. The people in Christchurch are so helpful and will take the time to give you directions and will start conversations with you about where you’re from.

James Cameron’s top five experiences in New Zealand’s North Island

1. The Arts: Walk the streets of Wellington or Auckland. There's a huge art scene with a lot of energy. New Zealanders have always been inventive, they've always been individualistic and when that’s funnelled into the arts, you get some pretty amazing things.

2. Heritage: Visit the Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa. ‘Te Papa Tongarewa’ broadly translates to ‘the place of treasures of this land’ and the museum is home to collections that unify both culture and place. I think it’s one of the best museums in the world.

3. Wine: Rent a car and drive to wine country. From Wellington, you can drive over the Rimutaka Range, into Featherston and then down into Martinborough, home of some of the best pinot noir. It’s only an hour’s drive from Wellington and there are over 20 wineries to visit.

4. Diving: I’m a fan of sea diving and if you are too, make sure you head to the south end of the Wairarapa Valley. There are some great dive spots near Palliser Bay and right around by Cape Palliser there’s a seal rookery and you can experience nice free diving in the area.

5. Sailing: You can’t beat Auckland for the sailing culture, there’s a whole maritime culture. It’s known as the ‘City of Sails’ for a reason and the experiences range from high-speed, hands-on racing boats, to luxurious yacht charters and traditional Māori sailing waka (canoes).

ABOUT 'James Cameron in 100% Pure New Zealand'

The video clip 'James Cameron in 100% Pure New Zealand' was filmed in collaboration with Tourism New Zealand.

James Cameron and his wife Suzy Amis Cameron spent four days filming, taking in the natural wonders of New Zealand’s spectacular South Island. The couple explore the Tasman Glacier, kayak through a Dart River canyon and take in the sweeping views of Blanket Bay by helicopter.  They hike on the alpine Routeburn Track, cycle beside Lake Pukaki and visit Mount Alfred in the Glenorchy area near Queenstown. 

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