New drama series The Luminaries has arrived on BBC One and audiences are curious about filming locations. Where was it filmed and set?

It’s been a strange year for television… and everything else, frankly.

Back in March, Boris Johnson announced that the UK would be going into lockdown. With the PM informing us only to leave the house for shopping for essentials, work if necessary and brief exercise, many of us made friends with TV rather quickly.

With many being furloughed, there was more pressure than ever for broadcasters to provide quality content. However, you inevitably run into issues under the circumstances.

COVID-19 meant that production on new shows, seasons and soaps was essentially at a standstill, so the likes of the BBC have had to adapt. Fortunately, they’ve still managed to roll out new titles to keep us entertained, while also repeating some acclaimed series from recent years for those who hadn’t caught them the first time around; or those who just fancy a rewatch, of course.

We’re glad to see they’re still offering great entertainment, with The Luminaries arriving on BBC One on Sunday, June 21st 2020 at 9 pm…

still from “The Luminaries”, Southern Light Films et al.

BBC One: The Luminaries

This six-part drama series serves as an adaptation of Eleanor Catton’s 2013 novel of the same name.

It was met with waves upon release, even going on to earn the 2013 Man Booker Prize.

So, immediately there was a sense of prestige surrounding this adaptation, inviting audiences to unravel a mystery set in 19th-century New Zealand at the height of the 1860s gold rush.

With the likes of Eva Green, Eve Hewson, Benedict Hardie, Himesh Patel and more boasting roles, it’s fair to say star power is on its side.

However, we’d like to argue that the performers are far from the only stars making this a must-see…

The Luminaries: Trailer – BBC

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The Luminaries: Trailer – BBC
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The Luminaries filming locations

The Luminaries was filmed on location in New Zealand and the crew actually flocked to many of the locations featured in the novel in aims for authenticity.

As highlighted by the Express, the series was shot primarily in Auckland, with the crew utilizing real locations as well as building exciting new sets to transport audiences into the 19th century.

One of the show’s stars – Ewen Leslie – sheds light: “It was all in New Zealand. We were in Auckland from November through till March. We had all of the sets built in Auckland, including those big city streetscapes, they were behind the warehouse.”

As you’ll know,the story also takes us to Hokitika, so they headed there to film too: “We also shot in a place called Hokitika, which is in the South Island. I was very lucky in that just based on the plot, Crosbie covered a lot of ground so there were lots of different places where I had to be. I got to see a lot of New Zealand and I got to see a lot of the places that we were shooting…”

The source also includes that they shot on beaches which fans of the acclaimed 1993 film The Piano will recognise, along with Waitangi and the Coromandel in the Bay of Islands.

Where was The Luminaries filmed?

Series director Claire McCarthy shared her knowledge of filming in an interview with the Radio Times.

Addressing the problems encountered regarding how much time has passed since the novel’s timeframe, she expressed:

“We went to Hokitika which is the novel’s set, and we also went to Dunedin. I was kind of optimistically hoping that there would be more period-correct architecture that we could utilise, for the shooting. But we quickly discovered that a lot of the things of the era made in the 1800s were sort of readapted or reappropriated into shops or housing.”

She continued: “So the decision was that we would be building pretty much 85% of the project ourselves from scratch. So that meant 165 sets, and creating Dunedin, which is the burgeoning city that Anna’s character arrives in in episode one, and then the Hokitika goldfields.”

That’s a lot of work, but the results were surely worth it.

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