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12 Best Documentaries About New Zealand To Watch

These documentaries about New Zealand show the country’s rich history and diverse natural landscapes. Nestled in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, New Zealand is a land of breathtaking beauty and captivating stories waiting to be unveiled.

Documentaries About New Zealand

From its majestic landscapes that range from snow-capped mountains to lush rainforests, to its rich cultural heritage rooted in the traditions of the indigenous Māori people, New Zealand is a country that continues to enchant and inspire.

Billy Connolly’s World Tour of New Zealand (2004)

Ok, this one is going first on the list because it not only features the people of New Zealand and all the stunning landscapes of the country but it is also hosted by one of the greatest comedians of all time, Billy Connolly.

I saw Billy Connolly at a theatre in Wellington and he knows New Zealand well and is a great guide for showing you around the country.

This is a clip from the series where he attends a Maori marae:

First People In New Zealand (2019)

This is a great documentary that takes a look at the history of the indigenous people of New Zealand, the Maori.

If you have an interest in the Maori and the history of the original inhabitants of New Zealand then this is a must-watch.

You can watch the complete documentary for free on YouTube:

New Zealand: Earth’s Mythical Islands (2016)

This is a three-part documentary series that explores the diverse ecosystems and wildlife of New Zealand, including its unique bird species like the kiwi and the kakapo.

On a personal note, this is my favourite documentary on New Zealand when it comes to the stunning scenery and wildlife that you can see. Can’t recommend this one enough if you are a nature lover.

This is easily one of the best documentaries about New Zealand when it comes to nature and wildlife.

Wild New Zealand (2016)

Wild New Zealand is much on similar terms with Earth’s Mythical Islands in that it explores the nature and wildlife of the country.

It shows how the indigenous wildlife has survived and how the remote location of New Zealand has created some of the most unusual wildlife on the planet.

You can see many short clips from this documentary series on YouTube, like this one:

New Zealand 3D: The Forgotten Paradise (2013)

This documentary explores New Zealand’s natural beauty, from its lush rainforests to its rugged coastlines. It also delves into the country’s unique wildlife and indigenous culture.

This, along with New Zealand: Earth’s Mythical Islands mentioned above, is another one of the best documentaries about New Zealand when it comes to nature and the country as a whole. Beautiful.

Ever The Land (2015)

This documentary delves into the world of the Tuhoe people and their quest to build a sustainable and culturally significant building, Te Wharehou o Tuhoe, in the heart of New Zealand.

This is one of the best documentaries about New Zealand that explores the indigenous Maori people.

Trailer for Ever The Land on YouTube:

Māori Boy Genius (2012)

This documentary explores the life and achievements of Ngaa Rauuira Pumanawawhiti, a young Māori boy with exceptional academic abilities, and his journey to preserve Māori culture.

This is another one of the best documentaries about New Zealand that takes a look at Maori culture.

The Timeless Beauty Of New Zealand’s South Island

You can watch this full documentary for free on YouTube. This is the description for the video taken from the channel:

The beautiful country of New Zealand is full of vegetation and wildlife. The South Island is larger and less populated and it’s here that we find Peter, a former farmer who is now a painter, travelling the country to capture its light and impressions.

Dave spends his time in the riverbeds of the Hokitika region, searching for jade stones. And finally, we meet Forhana, who lives on the very small Stewart Island.

The World Of The Wild Coasts 

Another free full documentary on YouTube. Description from the video:

Follow celebrated landscape photographer and conservationist Craig Potton, as he explores New Zealand’s extraordinarily rich and varied coastline.

It takes viewers from spectacular places known the world over to isolated and unknown wilderness spots, to uncover some of New Zealand’s most breathtaking shores.

New Zealand – Wild at Heart (2023)

This is one of the best documentaries about New Zealand covering the South Island.

Description from their YouTube channel about the documentary:

Far away in the Pacific Ocean lies New Zealand’s South Island. From mighty mountains with dramatic glacial valleys to fjordland’s untouched nature to the tropical shores – a fascinating mix of landscapes, wildlife and people.

The film accompanies five extraordinary protagonists in their daily passionate commitment to the preservation of their living environment.

You can watch the whole documentary for free on YouTube:

The Volcano: Rescue from Whakaari (2022)

This is one of the more recent documentaries about New Zealand that looks at the 2019 volcanic eruption on Whakaari Island.

It shows footage of the events that took place there as well as survivors’ and rescuers’ accounts of the tragedy that killed 22 people.

One extra fun one…

Taika Waititi: What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

And finally a silly one at the end, and not a documentary but a comedy mockumentary.

It’s worth mentioning for its humorous take on the lives of vampire flatmates in Wellington, New Zealand.

Side note: New Zealand is the filming place for The Lord of The Rings movies so be sure to watch them for the scenery!

Start with the first in the trilogy, The Fellowship of The Ring.

New Zealand Documentaries

These documentaries about New Zealand offer a diverse range of perspectives on New Zealand, from its stunning landscapes to its rich cultural heritage and unique wildlife.

New Zealand truly is one of the best countries you can visit for nature and the local Maori culture.

For more on the country take a look at my guides to New Zealand.

For more on Oceania have a look at the 10 best documentaries about Australia.

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