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Knighted for his significant contribution to the Kiwi film industry in 2010, Jackson has been pivotal in shining a spotlight on New Zealand’s spectacular filming locations. Both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogy were shot entirely on-location in New Zealand, showcasing the country’s stunning landscapes to the world.
Jackson says New Zealand’s uncanny resemblance to J.R.R Tolkien’s fictional Middle-earth is what drove him to use more than 150 locations in the production of his epic trilogies. From majestic peaks to rolling green hills, bubbling brooks and desolate volcano valleys, it’s easy to see how Jackson morphed the land of New Zealand into his fantasy realm of Middle-earth.
Jackson grew up in enchanting Pukerua Bay, a coastal town near New Zealand’s capital city of Wellington. He developed a love of films as a child, and was inspired by the adventures he would have in and around his home, which he called an “adventure playground”.
Jackson would make short films with friends, and attempted to remake King Kong using stop-motion models at the age of nine. Early in his career, he specialised in ‘splatstick’ horror comedies. While Jackson had no formal training in film-making or special effects, his early grounding would ensure his later Oscar-winning successes.
From Splatstick to Middle-earth
Jackson’s Hollywood star rose steadily throughout the 80s and 90s, when he produced Bad Taste, Braindead, Meet the Feebles, and the critically acclaimed Heavenly Creatures – which was nominated for an Oscar for best screenplay.
In the late 90s, Jackson grew frustrated that noone had created a film based on J.R.R Tolkien’s hugely popular The Lord of the Rings novel. After winning the film rights in 1997, Jackson convinced New Line Cinema to finance the project. The production company shared Jackson's vision of filming all three movies at once, on location in New Zealand.
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy became the highest grossing film trilogy in history, and its final instalment – The Return of the King – is widely considered the greatest fantasy film ever made. The enormous success of the films firmly put Jackson and New Zealand on the international film-making map.
The Hobbit trilogy
Jackson is currently working on the three-part film adaptation of The Hobbit, Tolkien’s prequel to The Lord of the Rings, with the release of the first movie set for December 14th, 2012.
One of the most popular and acclaimed film directors alive, Jackson is that rare director who makes films that are both action-packed, special effects-laden blockbusters and high quality, critically acclaimed works of art. Known for his boundless imagination and tireless work ethic, Jackson remains one of the most successful and recognised kiwis in history.
Must-do experiences for Peter Jackson fans
The retro Roxy Cinema, designed to ignite people’s desire to spend a night at the movies, was originally built in 1928 and is much-loved by locals and visitors alike. With interior features created by the extraordinary team at Weta Workshop including Sir Richard Taylor and Jamie Selkirk, the theatre offers two luxurious cinema screens and a large restaurant. Come early and stay late – a movie at the Roxy Theatre is a real must-do experience for Peter Jackson fans.
Away from directing, Jackson is a major player in the world-famous Kiwi special effects company Weta Workshop, which is based in Wellington. He was one of the founders of the company's digital division, Weta Digital, when it was created in 1993 to produce special effects for Heavenly Creatures. Visit the Weta Cave, where you can see an exclusive screening about Weta and come face to face with some of the props, characters and displays from your favourite movies.
Visit the small seaside community where Jackson grew up. Located at the southern end of the Kapiti Coast, 30 kilometres from central Wellington, Pukerua Bay is situated in a saddle between hills on the edge of steep coast. See the picturesque landscapes that inspired Jackson's story-telling imagination from a young child.
Amidst the rolling green hills of Matamata lies Hobbiton, the filming location for The Shire in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. Experience all 44 Hobbit-holes and the Party Tree for yourself and discover why Jackson chose this location as his Shire.