Coastal New Zealand shines in The Light Between Oceans

Two iconic New Zealand landscapes appear in a big screen role in newly released DreamWorks Studios’ The Light Between Oceans.

Two iconic New Zealand coastal landscapes appear in a big screen role in newly released DreamWorks Studios’ The Light Between Oceans.

The spectacular South Island locations – in the Marlborough wine region and on the Otago Peninsula – stand in for a remote Australian island that was the original setting for the story.

Starring Oscar nominee Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander, and Oscar-winner Rachel Weisz, The Light Between Oceans is directed by Derek Cianfrance, who also wrote the script based on the debut novel from M.L. Stedman.  

The international best-seller takes place on a remote Australian island in the years following World War I, and tells the story a lighthouse keeper and his wife who are faced with a moral dilemma when a boat washes ashore with a dead man and a two-month-old infant.  When they decide to raise the child as their own, the consequences of their choice are devastating.

Production on the film included several weeks of filming in the Marlborough and Otago regions of New Zealand.

The lighthouse scenes - Marlborough

Cape Campbell, on the southern edge of Cook Strait between the North and South Islands, is one of the film’s most identifiable locations.

Marlborough is best known as New Zealand’s major wine producing region and for the Marlborough Sounds – a diverse landscape of extensive coastline, sheltered waters and forests to frame a multitude of outdoor pursuits. 

The Cape Campbell lighthouse sits on a headland above distinctive white cliffs rising from the southern end of Clifford Bay. The location can be accessed by a one-day walk on the Marfells Beach to Cape Campbell route. It is a popular spot for picnics and camping however, as the area can only be accessed at low tide, it is important that visitors check in with the Department of Conservation before setting off.  

Alicia Vikander’s first day on set began with an extra early call – a 2am pickup and drive to the lighthouse for her first take.

"I just looked out and saw this huge lighthouse, which is pretty extraordinary," Vikander recalls. "And the film crew was up on the top, so I started to climb up to the top. And they had timed it so the second I came up there, the sun just popped up over the horizon. It was probably the most extraordinary sunrise I had ever seen. It's not me acting, really, in the film when I see it."

Harbourmaster House and Graysmark - Dunedin

Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula, on the south-eastern coast of New Zealand’s South Island, features in several key scenes including the harbourmaster’s house, and Graysmark.

One of New Zealand’s oldest and most important settler cities, Dunedin’s Scottish heritage is reflected in the architecture, restaurants and bars.

Dunedin sits snugly on Otago Harbour. The surrounding beaches and inlets are numerous and spectacular while, just beyond the city limits, beautiful Otago Peninsula is a haven for significant wildlife populations and world-leading sustainability projects.

Tourists can experience the Graysmark location, on Otago Peninsula, on a wildlife tour encounter with penguins, seals and albatross. At nearby Larnach Castle - New Zealand’s only true castle - visitors can take a garden tour, enjoy lunch or dinner, or even stay the night.

Fletcher House, which features as the Harbourmaster House, is a restored Edwardian villa built in 1909. It is open to the public on weekends and public holidays.

The Otago Peninsula has many walking and mountain biking tracks, and outdoor activities include kayaking, fishing, and surfing.

About DreamWorks Studios

DreamWorks Studios is a motion picture company formed in 2009 and led by Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider in partnership with The Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group.  The company’s recent releases include Spielberg's "Lincoln," starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones.  The film has grossed over $180 million at the U.S. box office and was nominated for twelve Academy Awards® with Daniel Day-Lewis winning for Best Actor.  Other releases include “The Hundred-Foot Journey,” starring Helen Mirren, Steven Spielberg’s "War Horse", based on Michael Morpurgo’s award-winning book and nominated for six Academy Awards® including Best Picture, and "The Help," which resonated with audiences around the world, earning over $200 million at the box office and receiving four Academy Award® nominations with Octavia Spencer winning for Best Supporting Actress.