New Zealand is a country that prides itself on its stunning landscapes, Maori culture and hospitality. It is a country that offers visitors the ability to immerse themselves in real film locations and follow in the footsteps of some of the world’s biggest stars.
From the geothermal region of Rotorua in the central North Island, to the ancient volcanic Banks Peninsula in the South Island, Ghost in the Shell cast were able to enjoy some of New Zealand’s unique and diverse offerings.
Pilou Asbæk’s Rotorua
Actor Pilou Asbæk (“Batou”) was able to take time off to travel around New Zealand while filming Ghost in the Shell.
“We have been to the South Island which was astonishing. I watched blue whales, we’ve been to Franz Josef Glacier and Queenstown. We’ve been all over the two islands.”
Pilou said he loved his time filming in Wellington, with the best part meeting the locals and Kiwis, and just being part of such a big beautiful scene.He also spent several days relaxing in Rotorua.
“I was able to take my family to Rotorua for a holiday during filming of Ghost in the Shell. Rotorua is a city full of Maori culture and great activities. We had a wonderful time luging, visiting the geothermal area and zip lining through the beautiful native bush. It was one of the highlights of my time in New Zealand. Such a great place to take the family, with so much to see and do.”
Situated in the central North Island, Rotorua is known for bubbling mud pools, shooting geysers and natural hotsprings, as well as showcasing New Zealand's fascinating Maori culture. The city offers a raft of attractions and experiences for everyone from adventure-seekers to those just looking to unwind.
While in Rotorua, Pilou rode the Skyline Gondola, had fun on the luge, and ziplined 385 metres down the side of Mt Ngongotaha. The Skyline Rotorua complex is situated just minutes from central Rotorua, high up Mt Ngongotaha.
- To begin your Skyline Rotorua adventure, take a leisurely uphill gondola ride and enjoy the extensive views of Rotorua, the surrounding lakes and geothermal areas. At the top, the thrill of the Luge, the culinary delights of the Stratosfare Restaurant & Bar, beautiful nature walks and exciting adventure activities all await you.
- Rotorua’s Te Puia is home to the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute and the world famous Pohutu geyser. Guiding in the Whakarewarewa geothermal valley has been continuing for generations, and many of the guides have direct links to Rotorua’s earliest hosts, sharing stories and insight into this unique corner of the world.
Juliette Binoche was able to take a couple of days out of her busy schedule to travel to Banks Peninsula in Canterbury. The French actress stayed at Annandale Luxury Villas, a short distance from Christchurch. She said she likes to have a feeling for the country she works in.
“It was just beautiful, to have just the elements there, the sea, the air, the earth, the animals, the plants, the minerals, like it's sort of the essence of creation and just breathing in and taking some time feeling the sun… I wish I had stayed there longer.”
- Annandale is a working coastal farm with four luxury villas nestled between the rolling hills of the Banks Peninsula and the sparkling water of the Pacific. These private locations feature award-winning architecture and a unique experience referred to as "gumboot luxury".
- Just 17 minutes from Annandale, or 75 kilometres from the city of Christchurch, is the historic French and British settlement of Akaroa. Nestled in the heart of an ancient volcano you can explore the village and its colonial architecture, galleries, craft stores, and cafés. Relax or take part in the many activities that are on offer. Explore the dramatic outer bays and take your time to soak in the magic of this area. A wide range of accommodation is available and you will need more than a day to explore this little piece of paradise.
Wellington, New Zealand became a home-away-from-home for many cast members of Ghost in the Shell.
With its compact size, artistic spirit, world-class coffee and progressive restaurant scene, it’s easy to see why Lonely Planet named Wellington the ‘coolest little capital in the world’. Wellington prides itself on an easy laid-back way of life that allows visiting celebrities to blend right in and live like locals.
With a great mix of landscapes and experiences within walking distance, the cast of the movie’s elite Section 9 task force have soaked up the city’s dramatic harbour setting and all it has to offer.
“Everything’s so close, and the people are so very friendly. We have been able to walk everywhere, soak up the city’s creative atmosphere and see it all,” said cast member Danusia Samal.
Cast members Chin Han, Danusia Samal, Lasarus Ratuere, Tawanda Manyimo and Yutaka Izumihara have put together their own list of favourite Wellington experiences.
- Just a few minutes by car from downtown Wellington and nestled in a forested valley, Zealandia is a world-leading eco-sanctuary that’s home to some of New Zealand’s rarest native birds and wildlife. At Zealandia visitors will see New Zealand’s 'living fossil’ the tuatara and threatened bird species such as the flightless kiwi, and which the supporting cast recommends as its number one Wellington must do.
- Mt Victoria offers amazing 360 degree views of Wellington including the harbour and city centre, as well as the Miramar Peninsula where much of Ghost in the Shell has been filmed. Take a stroll through the trees all the way to the top, or do as the Ghost in the Shell crew did and enjoy a picnic at the lookout point.
- Seal Coast Safari Wellington Tours take visitors on tours to Wellington’s rugged coastline, offering sublime views right across to the South Island, and the chance of a close-up encounter with New Zealand fur seals. Five members of Section 9 went on the tour together and then stopped off on the way home at Garage Project for a cool refreshment.
- Nothing beats the Wellington waterfront area on a glistening clear day – and there’s no better way to enjoy it that exploring on a croc bike. The Ghost in the Shell cast members raced each other around the waterfront, before stopping in at the Enormous Crocodile Company’s ice cream parlour for a scoop of New Zealand ice cream.
Rupert Sanders & Takeshi Kitano
Wellington is jam-packed full of cafés, speciality coffee shops and roasteries that are world famous for their ‘flat-whites’. You don’t need to go more than a few steps in downtown Wellington to encounter one of these cafés – Mojo Coffee, Zumo Coffee, and Flight Coffee Hanger are among the cast favourites.
Whitebait Restaurant on Wellington’s waterfront was also a popular spot with its focus on locally caught seafood. Whitebait owner and chef, Paul Hoather served a number of Ghost in the Shell cast and crew, including director Rupert Sanders and actor Takeshi Kitano.
Rupert Sanders says they had an incredible time filming Ghost in the Shell in New Zealand.
“We got to enjoy Wellington’s great food and culture, and especially loved the seafood. It’s a beautiful city, easy to get around with nature so close by. It also has amazing restaurants and cafés.