Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks Pictures have completed production of the film Ghost in the Shell in Wellington New Zealand, after several months in the creative capital city that has become a home-away-from-home for many cast members.
With its compact size, artistic spirit, world-class coffee and progressive restaurant scene, it’s easy to see why Lonely Planet named Wellington the ‘coolest little capital in the world’. Wellington prides itself on an easy laid-back way of life that allows visiting celebrities to blend right in and live like locals.
Live like a local
With a great mix of landscapes and experiences within walking distance, the cast of the movie’s elite Section 9 task force have soaked up the city’s dramatic harbour setting and all it has to offer.
“Everything’s so close, and the people are so very friendly. We have been able to walk everywhere, soak up the city’s creative atmosphere and see it all,” said cast member Danusia Samal.
Cast members Chin Han, Danusia Samal, Lasarus Ratuere, Tawanda Manyimo and Yutaka Izumihara have put together their own exclusive list of Wellington’s coolest top nine experiences.
Wellington’s top nine
- Zealandia Eco Sanctuary – Just a few minutes by car from downtown Wellington and nestled in a forested valley, Zealandia is a world-leading eco-sanctuary that’s home to some of New Zealand’s rarest native birds and creatures. At Zealandia visitors will see New Zealand’s ‘living fossil’ the tuatara and threatened bird species such as the flightless kiwi, which the supporting cast recommends as its number one Wellington must do.
- Mt Victoria – Mt Victoria offers panoramic views of Wellington including the harbour and city centre, as well as the Miramar Peninsula where much of Ghost in the Shell has been filmed. Visitors to the region can walk to the top, or do as Section 9 did and enjoy a picnic at the lookout point while immersed in the views.
- Café culture – Lining Wellington’s streets are scores of cafés in dozens of different guises, dispensing a special blend of coffee and hospitality. You don’t need to go more than a few steps in downtown Wellington to encounter one of these cafés – Zumo Coffee is a favourite of some of the cast.
- Seal Coast Safari – Seal Coast Safari Wellington Tours take visitors on tours to Wellington’s rugged coast line, offering sublime views right across to the South Island, and the chance of a close-up encounter with New Zealand fur seals. Five members of Section 9 went on the tour together, then stopped off on the way home at Garage Project for a cool refreshment.
- Crocodile bikes – Downtown Wellington sits on a glistening waterfront, and the leisurely, fun way to explore that harbour fringe is by croc bike. Cast members raced each other around the waterfront, before stopping in at the Enormous Crocodile Company’s ice cream parlour for a scoop of New Zealand ice cream.
- World-class restaurants – Wellington is renowned for its sophisticated food scene and has more places to eat and drink per capita than New York. Ortega Fish Shack, Crabshack and Dockside were all regular dining out spots for cast and crew, who couldn’t get enough of the region’s fresh local seafood including mussels, oysters and fish.
- Wellington Cable Car – One of Wellington’s most popular tourist attractions, the Cable Car runs from Lambton Quay in the commercial heart of the city and emerges in the Wellington Botanic Garden. The supporting cast visited the Wellington Botanic Garden, which offers over 26 hectares of specialist gardens, native bush and lawn areas.
- Local culture and arts – Wellington is known as New Zealand’s arts and culture capital and is home to numerous galleries and museums, including Te Papa Tongarewa – the national museum of New Zealand. Various members of Section 9 visited Te Papa for a cultural performance, went to several performances at the Circa Theatre, watched New Zealand singer Hollie Smith at the San Fran, and went to the annual arts event, the Fringe Festival.
- Cuba Street – Cuba Street is considered the funky heart of Wellington, a vibrant part-pedestrian precinct filled with eclectic shopping, restaurants and street entertainment. The cast regularly shopped at Cuba St, while each Saturday night visitors can stop by to indulge in a variety of different delectable food stalls at the Wellington night market.