Tourism Waitaki hopes the district can capitalise on a growing interest in film production in New Zealand.

The production crew of Netflix’s The Royal Treatmentspent three days filming in Oamaru last week.

The 135-strong crew and large cast of mainly New Zealand-based actors and extras took over Harbour St and Tyne St from Friday to Monday, filming scenes for the movie. The film’s lead actors, Laura Marano (The Perfect Date, Austin & Ally, Saving Zoe) and Mena Massoud Aladdin, Hulu’s Reprisal), were also spotted out and about in Oamaru over the weekend.

Netlfix publicist Sabryna Phillips said The Royal Treatment, directed by Rick Jacobson and written by Holly Heist, told the story of Prince Thomas (Massoud), who is set to marry a royal out of duty, when he meets Isabella (Marano), who is doing his hair for the wedding. As the story unfolds, they learn that taking control of their own destiny requires following their hearts, and the two fall in love.

The Waitaki district was becoming increasingly popular for filmmakers, Tourism Waitaki general manager Margaret Munro said.

Oamaru’s Victorian precinct provided production crews with “easy access and a near perfect backdrop as a film set”.

“Film tourism was a growing commodity in the world prior to Covid-19. I’m hopeful that with the growing interest in film production in New Zealand we may see many more movies made on location in the Waitaki,” she said.

“Perhaps inspiring visitors to come and walk the streets they recognised in a film and discovering life here is actually pretty good.”

Film tourism was a small part of the tourism industry, but it added to the depth of what the region had to offer and how it was seen, Mrs Munro said.

“Much depends on the success of the individual films as to the interest it will raise.”

Mrs Munro said the filming in Oamaru was also a great opportunity for locals to be cast as extras and get “a taste of what goes into filmmaking on location”.

Parts of Tyne and Harbour Sts were closed to vehicles at times over the weekend, while the filming took place. The precinct remained open to pedestrians who wanted access to shops that had remained open while filming was under way.

Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust chairman Graeme Clark said he always enjoyed watching film crews transform the Victorian precinct into a movie set.

“Sometimes I wish they would leave everything right there,” Mr Clark said.

In the past, some film crews had left props as souvenirs for the trust, or other people in the community.

Mr Clark could remember productions taking place in the precinct 30 years ago, and said the crews had always found ways of transforming the area without damaging it.

“They are always good to work with.”

It was also great for the local economy, with crew members visiting cafes and booking accommodation, he said.

Additional reporting Ruby Heyward