In today’s day and age of CGI, computer technology and green screens, blockbuster movies are largely produced away from prying eyes inside film studios. However, that hasn’t always been the case and, over the years, there have been a fair few exceptions to the rule; movies which instead utilise the world’s most spectacular scenery to wow its fans.
Whether it be a scenic landscape, cool city or unusual historical site, certain film directors like to leave fans guessing, making them question whether an awe-inspiring set location is actually real or computer-generated. For the locations that are real, big budget movies can do wonders from a tourism perspective, bringing in film buffs from around the world.
In this article, we take a detailed look at the movie locations you can actually go and visit. From channelling your inner Tom Hanks on a Fijian island to banging your head on the Hobbit holes of New Zealand, here are five movie locations to add to your travel bucket list.
The Lord of the Rings. New Zealand.
New Zealand tourism exploded following the success of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and it’s no wonder. The movies showcased the expansive New Zealand landscape in all its beauty – from unspoiled nature to incredible mountain ranges.
Remaining a filmgoer’s fantasy location to this day, visiting New Zealand offers the opportunity to visit some of the films’ most popular settings, including the incredible snow-capped Mt. Sunday, Waitomo Caves, and the Volcanic Ruapehu.
However, the country’s crème de la crème is found in the town of Matamata, two hours south of Auckland. Here you will find the town of Hobbiton – an actual Hobbit village where you can tour the Shire, see where famous scenes were filmed and even stay at the Green Dragon Inn.
Mad Max: Fury Road. Namibia.
Mad Max: Fury Road was shot in a desolate desert landscape to add to the overall post-apocalyptic atmosphere of the film, but have you ever wondered where exactly that desert was?
While the film could have been filmed in pretty much any of the USA’s desert landscapes, George Miller – the film’s producer – chose to shoot the film in Namibia’s Namib Desert due to the long stretches of flat roads, authentic sand dunes, and dry landscape available there.
The Namib Desert is far more than just an arid landscape though and, at between 50 and 80 million years old, is actually the oldest desert in the world. If you’re a huge Mad Max fan, visiting here will offer a lot more than the movie portrays, such as incredible coastal views and spectacular African scenery.
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. Morocco.
Mission Impossible frequently sees Tom Cruise as IMF agent Ethan Hunt travelling around the globe – and the fifth instalment in the franchise was no exception. The action-packed, adventure and spy film featured numerous spectacular sequences shot in various locations all around Morocco, each of which is perfectly possible for fans to visit.
For example, one of the film’s best chase scenes takes place near the Kasbah of the Udayas in Rabat, a 12th century monument, before concluding by the iconic Hassan II Mosque – the largest mosque in Morocco.
Later on in the film, during yet another chase scene, we see Hunt on the A7 Autoroute Casablanca–Agadir expressway, navigating his way through the sharp curves of the Atlas Mountains, near Marrakech. Here you will find a number of incredible things to see and do, channelling your inner Ethan Hunt along the way.
Jurassic Park. Hawaii.
Hawaii’s natural beauty has long been used in a wide variety of blockbuster films, and Jurassic Park is one of the most famous examples. Utilising the island’s dense jungles, stunning beaches, incredible mountains and captivating rivers, Steven Spielberg and co filmed large sections of Hawaii’s beautiful Kualoa Ranch before adding computer-generated dinosaurs on top.
While the ranch is still used in high-profile films to this day, having featured in blockbuster features like Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle and Godzilla, avid Jurassic Park fans are still able to visit there as they wish.
Plus, once you’ve finished discovering the expansive jungle landscape, there are a number of other set locations to explore in and around Hawaii. Amongst others, this includes the Blue Hole in Kaua’i, the National Tropical Botanical Gardens, the Olokele Valley, and the stunning Manawaiopuna Falls.
Harry Potter. United Kingdom.
When you think of Great Britain, Harry Potter is one of the first names that springs to mind. Along with James Bond, Paddington Bear and the Queen, the boy who lived is revered worldwide for his various blockbuster books and films.
Being such a British novelty, the films largely featured UK-based locations during filming which are perfectly possible for avid fans to visit. From well-known settings like Platform 9¾ at King’s Cross Station and Leadenhall Market, to lesser-known locations like Alnwick Castle and Duke Humfrey’s Library in Oxford, there are an abundance of Harry Potter-based places to visit all around the UK.
While most movies feature locations that are made to look like somewhere else, the set location for Tom Hanks’ Castaway was extremely well chosen. The island chosen to film this iconic movie on is actually uninhabited in real life and can only be visited on a day trip. In fact, the nearest hotel to Monuriki island is located on an entirely separate island and costs over $900 a night to stay at.
However, if you’re a huge Castaway fan and have money to spare, it is perfectly possible for you to go and see where Tom Hanks spent his days stranded on a desert island. After taking a short boat ride to the island, you will be able to take photos with the ‘HELP ME’ coconut-shaped letters from the movie.
Just don’t forget to bring your own Wilson ball with you if you do choose to visit; it would be too good an opportunity to miss.