New Zealand has been featured for the first time as the home of Disney’s Pete’s Dragon, scheduled to be released worldwide in late 2016.
A reimagining of Disney’s cherished family film, Pete’s Dragon is the adventure of an orphaned boy named Pete and his best friend Elliott, who just so happens to be a dragon.
The film is directed by David Lowery and stars Bryce Dallas Howard, Oakes Fegley, Wes Bentley, New Zealand's own Karl Urban, Oona Laurence and Robert Redford.
In the first trailer of Pete’s Dragon released today, New Zealand plays Millhaven, a logging town in the American Pacific Northwest.
Wellington - New Zealand’s thriving film capital, Maori cultural and cycling hub Rotorua, and fisherman’s paradise Tapanui all feature in the trailer.
Wellington, Lower North Island
Production for Pete’s Dragon began at Stone Street Studios in Wellington’s Miramar film hub.
Weta Digital, beside Stone St Studios, is the visual effects company founded by filmmakers Peter Jackson and Sir Richard Taylor which has utilised the latest in digital effects to bring the dragon Elliott to life.
Visitors can go on their own behind the scenes tour of Weta, which gives them the opportunity to see artists at work, get close to authentic movie props, and have a go at trying on prosthetics, making fake blood or chainmaille.
Lonely Planet has described Wellington as the ‘coolest little capital in the world’. The town is also known as a centre of arts, coffee and craft beer.
Rotorua, Central North Island
The forest scenes for Pete’s Dragon were shot in Redwoods Forest in Rotorua; home to soaring Californian redwoods, which made it the perfect double for America.
Redwoods Forest is a popular destination for hikers and cyclists. The track winds through the lush native forest and has spectacular views over the lakes and thermal wonders of Rotorua, making this a uniquely ‘Kiwi’ experience.
A new eco experience has recently opened in the area - The Redwoods Treewalk is the first of its kind in New Zealand, and consists of a series of 23 suspension bridges traversing the gaps between 22 majestic 110-year-old redwood trees, 12 metres (40ft) above the ground.
Rotorua is New Zealand’s cultural tourism hub, and is also known for its geothermal activity and adventure sports.
Tapanui, Lower South Island
Tapanui, located in the Otago region of the lower South Island, was transformed into the main street of the film’s quiet American town.
Tapanui is a popular spot for fishermen, with an abundance of brown trout and sea salmon in the area.
The area is also home to the Clutha Gold Trail in Lawrence, one of the ‘Great Rides’ of the Nga Haerenga, New Zealand Cycle Trail. Open year-round, this smooth, wide, well-formed trail which stretches 73km offers a rural heartland experience combined with a wealth of gold mining history.
Nearby on the Otago coastline is Nugget Point where visitors can see diverse native wildlife including New Zealand fur seals and Yellow Eyed Penguins. Nugget Point was named in New Zealand's top 10 landmarks by travel website Trip Advisor in 2014 and 2015.
About Pete’s Dragon
A reimagining of Disney’s cherished family film, “Pete’s Dragon” is the adventure of an orphaned boy named Pete and his best friend Elliott, who just so happens to be a dragon. “Pete’s Dragon” stars Bryce Dallas Howard (“Jurassic World”), Oakes Fegley (“This is Where I Leave You”), Wes Bentley (“The Hunger Games”), Karl Urban (“Star Trek”), Oona Laurence (“Southpaw”) and Oscar® winner Robert Redford (“Captain America: The Winter Soldier”). The film, which is directed by David Lowery (“Ain’t Them Bodies Saints”), is written by Lowery & Toby Halbrooks based on a story by Seton I. Miller and S.S. Field and produced by Jim Whitaker, p.g.a. (“The Finest Hours,” “Friday Night Lights”), with Barrie M. Osborne (“The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring,” “The Great Gatsby”) serving as executive producer.
For years, old wood carver Mr. Meacham (Robert Redford) has delighted local children with his tales of the fierce dragon that resides deep in the woods of the Pacific Northwest. To his daughter, Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard), who works as a forest ranger, these stories are little more than tall tales…until she meets Pete (Oakes Fegley). Pete is a mysterious 10-year-old with no family and no home who claims to live in the woods with a giant, green dragon named Elliott. And from Pete’s descriptions, Elliott seems remarkably similar to the dragon from Mr. Meacham’s stories. With the help of Natalie (Oona Laurence), an 11-year-old girl whose father Jack (Wes Bentley) owns the local lumber mill, Grace sets out to determine where Pete came from, where he belongs, and the truth about this dragon. Disney’s “Pete’s Dragon” opens in U.S. theaters on August 12, 2016. The film will be released in New Zealand on 15 September.