Film Friendly Whanganui

​​Cameraman filming overlooking the Whanganui RiverWhanganui became Film Friendly in 2004. Awarded by Film New Zealand, this status requires the Whanganui District Council to adopt the best practices laid out in the Local Government New Zealand Filming Protocol. The agreement requires the Council to demonstrate that it has a process or procedure in place to deal with film shoots in a "film friendly" manner. Film Friendly protocols ensure that all parties receive the greatest benefits from a professional relationship between the local authority and the film industry.​

Film Friendly provides an affordable and effective method of showcasing film locations and supporting industries to local and national film, TV, documentary and stills industries.

It is the express wish of the Whanganui District to facilitate the film industry and endeavour, while working to protect the safety of our citizens, to ensure that all film location and associated work is performed with minimal disruptions to our residents.


This site is designed to provide a one-stop-shop for makers of films, advertisements, documentaries etc who want to use our wonderful Whanganui River locations, heritage buildings, landscape and other facilities.

Along with tips for planning and organising successful filming in Whanganui, it offers access to professional staff and services that will help you gain approvals required to film in open spaces and public spaces. If you require more information or would like further details added to this website, please contact Chris Heywood at Whanganui and Partners on (06) 349 3136. The Council and the community support Whanganui as a preferred destination for production companies to base film and activities.

Policies and Procedures​

Filming Approval Application and Permit 

The Film Approval Application provides guidelines and an application form for filming in Whanganui. The Whanganui District Council administers bylaws and the District Plan covering the use of roads, footpaths and other public spaces that may be useful for filming activity. This activity is subject to the Council’s approval for any necessary resource consents or permits based on the Film Location Application and evidence of adequate public liability and insurance. Filming without the required consents or permits is not permitted. The timeframe for any consents or permits to be issued depends upon the location and the activity’s potential impact on the amenities of residents, traders and traffic.

 Co-ordination of the Council’s departments 

Film and activity impacts on many Council departments. A film liaison co-ordinator will co-ordinate the approval of the application across the relevant Council departments. Liaison between all these departments to support filming activity is essential to the provision of an efficient effective service which develops and maintains excellent relationships between the film industry, the Whanganui District and its residents, traders and visitors. 


All applications for consents or permits for filming approval must provide evidence of appropriate public liability insurance cover prior to any necessary consents or permits being issued. 

Fees to other Council units 

For the majority of applications, the location fee charge covers the full service provided by the Council. Additional fees are charged when film crews park in metered parking areas or on other Council land. A user pays system applies where additional external services are required. 

Local facilities and services 

The Council will endeavour where possible to promote the use of local facilities and services by in-town production companies. The Council recognises the importance of retaining and maximising the economic benefits within the community. 


Where possible film credits and media publicity should acknowledge the existence and co-operation of the Whanganui District Council and its community, in addition to giving credit to any area featured in the Whanganui District. 

Where to go for advice on filming in Whanganui 

Enquiries regarding filming in Whanganui should be referred to Chris Heywood at Whanganui and Partners on (06) 349 3136. Any queries about this policy should be directed to Whanganui District Council’s Policy Unit, phone (06) 349 0001.

The first major movie production in the Whanganui District was the ‘River Queen’ in 2005. It tells a fictional tale of love and hardship set against the backdrop of the New Zealand land wars. The movie tells the story of Sarah Briar, an Irish immigrant who recently moved to New Zealand, where she finds herself square in the middle of conflict between European settlers and Maori tribes attempting to protect their land from insurgents.

The Whanganui River offers to the film industry a mysterious and remote landscape that requires no special effects or retouching. You see exactly how it is. Whanganui also has unique historic buildings that are available for use and give Whanganui a sense of place which is fundamental to the local character and community identity.

Whanganui is the best kept secret in New Zealand because it has retained its character and its landscape. Whanganui is a rural town of 43,000 people and offers a river that is majestic and full of mystery, bars, restaurants, untouched unspoiled beaches and sand dunes, hills and valleys, and beautifully restored historic buildings.​

The film location policy provides guidelines and an application form​ for filming within Whanganui.

Page reviewed: 15 Jun 2016 12:55pm