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Making magic is easy in the Cook Islands. It’s breadth of unique, spectacular and accessible locations inspire d creativity and have enhanced the value of many screen productions.

Learn why the Islands became a popular location for TV and film producers from all around the world.


Hollywood love Islands

The Cook Islands has long been a favoured place of screen producers thanks to incredible locations, world-class accommodation, the New Zealand dollar and the availability of affordable casting for extras.

One of the top movies filmed in the Cook Islands was Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence directed by Nagisa Oshima – one of Japan’s most known and accomplished directors.

Worthy themes and strong performances – David Bowie and Tom Conti starring as main characters –  across the board make Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence an impactful story about bridging cultural divides.

A massive, convincing World War II prisoner of war camp was constructed in the Turangi Valley, and large numbers of Rarotonga residents were conscripted to act as extras.

Bowie had jam sessions – he played shows at a venue called The Banana Court. He loved his anonymity on the island. Most folks could’t get too invested in pop culture as the island, to this day, has only one TV channel.” 

~ Naomi Christie, Live Fast Travelogue.


I really love the place and hope that I get into other movie roles to be filmed here. I have found the people casual and friendly, easy to talk to, they've been wonderful.



Another Hollywood production filmed mostly on the capital island of Rarotonga was “The Other Side of Heaven” .

The movie is a coming of age tale based on the true story of a farm boy, John Grohberg from Idaho Falls in the USA who becomes a missionary in the Tongan Islands of the 1950s.  Starring Christopher Gorman and Anne Hathaway.  The island scenes were completed in two months.

“We shot all of the Polynesian locations in the movie — which include Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga — on the island of Rarotonga in the Cook Islands, (…)  Rarotonga is a beautiful, majestic island with enough infrastructure to support a movie crew and enough Polynesian wilderness to feel pristine.”

Mitch Davis, Director of "The OTHER Side of Heaven"



TV channels from the US and UK filmed numerous reality shows in the Cook Islands. Aitutaki’s stunningly blue lagoon was the backdrop for season 13 of the American reality show, “Survivor”.

5 seasons of “Shipwrecked”, a survival reality show format from the UK were in Aitutaki as well. For Shipwrecked, the parts of the island have been named Shark and Tiger Island.

Neale Simpson, Shipwrecked’s executive producer, said the islands were the “ideal setting” for the paradise adventure. “The stunning island backdrops are the perfect place to play out the hedonism, heroism and hilarity that the UK public will be able to enjoy,” he said.


Tatau, supernatural drama series produced by BBC  was filmed on location in the Cook Islands. The series follows two young Britons who find they have been given the power to see into the future by way of a mysterious Maori tattoo.