Favourite New Zealand cinemas

One of my favourite places to be, there’s nothing like seeing films on the big screen. New Zealand is well served for quality cinemas, many independently run. Here are some of my favourites.

The Civic, Auckland CBD
To start with one of the most beautiful buildings in the country. The Civic is the centre stage every winter for the New Zealand International Film Festival, three weeks of cinematic bliss, and a lovely five day treat in autumn treat showing mainly classics.

Rialto, Newmarket, Auckland
Not an independent art house cinema (it’s owned by the Event group, as is The Embassy in Wellington) but it feels like one. With seven screens it hosts a huge selection of films and festivals (Architecture and Design, French, Italian, Japanese, and other nationalities on an annual basis), plus it has comfy seats and well sized screens. My tip is to become a member of Auckland Art Galley ($50 annually), both worthwhile in itself for free entry to exhibitions, but it also gets you tickets anytime for $12.50 (saving $5). Also becoming a Cinebuzz member you get your sixth film free. So about once a month for me… [note these photos were taken from the Rialto website and therefore the copyright belongs to them]

Cinema Paradiso, Wanaka
Hands down my favourite cinema in the country, if not exactly my local (though I’m down there quite a lot to go tramping). Right in the middle of Wanaka, about two minutes walk from the lake shore, it only has two screens but shows a wide range of blockbuster and art house films. The entire cinema shows a true love of film, with posters and old projectors throughout the interior. There is an eclectic selection of seating, from sofas to airline seating to old cars. Every film has an interval, with freshly baked cookies proving delicious and irresistible. A wonderful place.

The Academy, Auckland CBD
One of the best kept secrets in the CBD, The Academy is a two screen (though the second is the size of a large cupboard) cinema literally below the Central City Library on Lorne Street. It shows a huge range of art house films and a few classics. Tickets on Wednesdays are only $5! [note this photo was taken from The Academy website and therefore the copyright belongs to them]

Fiordland Cinema, Te Anau
An unexpected delight in one of the more isolated parts of the country. Fiordland Cinema is a great little one screen 52 seater cinema, home to all the latest movies, plus ten times a day the majestic Ata Whenua – Shadowland. This 32 min film took ten years to make, but was worth it for quite staggering views of Fiordland that you can only get from a helicopter. [note these photos were taken from the Fjordland Cinema website and therefore the copyright belongs to them]

The Embassy, Wellington
The capital’s finest, the Embassy has a quite spectacular entrance way and beautifully fitted out bar downstairs. It may only have three screens, but upstairs is huge, home to one of the largest screens in the Southern Hemisphere.The Embassy is the Wellington equivalent of The Civic, particularly during the New Zealand International Film Festival.

IMAX, Event Cinemas, Auckland CBD
The only IMAX in New Zealand, this is the perfect place to see a decent blockbuster on a screen as big as it gets. Christopher Nolan films in particular (Dunkirk, Interstellar, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises) are brilliantly suited this giant screen.

Bridgeway, Northcote Point, Auckland
One of the best located cinemas in Auckland, the Bridgeway is two minutes walk from Halls Beach, across the road from the award winning The Engine Room Bistro, and next to Sausalito, one of my favourite cafes in town. The cinema itself has four screens, a good range of films, and a great atmosphere. [note these photos were taken from the Bridgeway website and therefore the copyright belongs to them]

The Lido, Epsom, Auckland
Another historic cinema, with a beautiful interior and good range of films, plus as you’d expect in any decent art house cinema there is a wide choice of ice cream and alcohol, much more acceptable than noisy popcorn. [note these photos were taken from The Lido website and therefore the copyright belongs to them]

Ciné Café, Akaroa
A two screen cinema showing a good variety of films, and home to a decent cafe. [note this photo was taken from the Ciné Café website and therefore the copyright belongs to them]

Apologies to Dunedin and Christchurch, I’ve not been to the cinema there, but am sure they have some quality independents, alongside the usual Hoyts and Event cinemas.

7 thoughts on “Favourite New Zealand cinemas”

  1. Hi Jonty! Thanks again so much for helping me plan our New Zealand trip! We’re going to leave in about two weeks now, can’t believe it’s already upon us! Thanks again for all of your help. You have a wonderful website 🙂

      1. Will do! Thank you Jonty! 🙂 We’ve been salivating over your photos for over half a year now! Can’t believe we’re finally going!

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