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New Xenaland
Waiti valley


Renpics have used the upper Waiti valley beyond the edge of the Wainamu dunes very intensively for the filming of Hercules and Xena episodes from Hercules and the Amazon Women onwards. This valley is private property, though glimpses of parts of it could be obtained from the surrounding high ground.

The best on-screen view of the valley can be obtained in the Hercules episode Let The Games Begin, where the camera tracks right round the valley. The lower part of the valley is an open grassy paddock, backed by a steep hill slope with scattered trees; this has been used, for example, in the confrontation with Caesar and the Ares scene in The Deliverer, and Xena talking to Boadicea in her chariot.

Two views from... Let The Games Begin Caesar tries his favourite game
in The Deliverer

The upper part of the valley is surrounded by thick bush covering the slopes on all sides, with clearings in the valley bottom. In one of those clearings is, or was, the remains of the Amazon village from Hercules and the Amazon Women; the curving stone staircases can be clearly seen, and the platform with a spiral staircase that Callisto stood beside when giving Hope the 'Gabby look' in Sacrifice 2, and from which an Amazon sentry threw a spear at Aphrodite in Love Amazon Style. These clearings have also been used for, among many scenes, the 'capture' scene in Ides of March, Hercules talking to Morrigan in Darkness Rising, and a host of others.

Looking down on the upper valley The capture scene in Ides of March
Where did that woodwork come from?
(Sacrifice 2)
Callisto's spiral staircase looks
just as incongruous in real life

The only publicly accessible view of part of it is from Te Aute Road, from a corner just at the top of a hump a few yards before it swings from the Te Aute ridge back down to rejoin the Bethells road. [Just below the T of 'TE' on the map]. The roadside is covered in tea-tree which gets in the way of photos, and the lower ridge between Te Aute and Waiti streams hides the most interesting part of the valley.
All that can be seen is the slopes above the meadow where the 'Games' were held in Let The Games Begin, where Caesar tried to crucify Gabrielle and where Xena confronted Ares in The Deliverer.

Looking at the south slopes of
the upper Waiti valley
... and the north side of the Wainamu ridge,
from Te Aute Rd
The lower ridge between Te Aute and
Waiti valleys comes
1/3rd the way up the photo
The same meadow seen from the other direction,
near the head of the valley, above the 15m waterfall.
On the horizon, the fields above O'Neill Bay
(scene of Looking Death in the Eye).

Wainamu ridge

(Warning: The Waiti valley is private property. The south side of the Wainamu ridge (on the southern side of the fence line) is probably public land BUT the Auckland Council has closed most of the Waitakere Ranges in a (probably futile) attempt to prevent the spread of kauri dieback disease. The Wainamu dunes and the track around the shore of Lake Wainamu are still (as of 2018) open. You can check this on the Auckland Council website (google 'Waitakere closed tracks). Venturing off track, such as up the ridge, is liable to meet with significant official displeasure. The photos on this page were taken well before this unfortunate development.)

The top of the ridge between the Lake Wainamu valley and the Waiti valley has been used for many 'linking' shots of characters walking along the ridge, for example in Unchained Heart and Callisto. [Above the 'a' of 'Lake'] The other ridge branching to the northwest [outlined by the 100 contour] was where Joxer first appeared in Return of Callisto, and it was also the site of 'Melas's tree' from the same episode. This dead tree with its prominent staghorn fern has also been seen in a number of episodes. The tree has now fallen, but in Sacrifice it can be seen on the ridge in the background of the beach scene with Gabrielle and Seraphin. It's at the left of the screen shot below (right), with the distinctive blob of the staghorn fern near its top.

Wainamu ridge seen end-on from the Waiti dunes
Wainamu ridge on right, Melas's tree ridge
extends across leftwards
Looking down on Lake Wainamu from the ridge
Dunes out of sight in valley to right
Melas's tree seen from the beach
in Sacrifice

From the highest point on the ridge [above the first 'a' of 'Wainamu'], a spur runs north, then north-west. The north-east slope of this has been used on occasion for 'travelling' shots, mostly in Hercules, of people walking down the slope past the cabbage trees. Below this spur, and crossed by the track on the map, is the open grassy paddock that can be partly seen from Te Aute Road.
Across the stream from this paddock, and completely hidden from all viewpoints except one spot on the Wainamu ridge, is a large clearing - or a collection of partly-connected small clearings - which has been used in many episodes ever since the Herc telemovies. [Around the last 'i' in 'Waiti' on the map]. Call it the 'secret valley' :)

The spur extending northwards from
the mid-point of the Wainamu ridge
Looking down from the ridge above the upper valley
The paddock in centre extends out of sight
behind the spur on left (but visible from Te Aute Rd)
Waiti Stream flows right to left through the trees
in the middle of the view
Upper left is the face of the ridge between Te Aute
and Waiti valleys (note the distinctive
parallel tracks across the slope)
Across the stream is this hidden part
of the valley - not visible from anywhere
except this point on the Wainamu ridge
- and it's very interesting

Take a closer look - particularly
at the top end of the clearing
- closer still - there are some
curious features there -
- screw on a 2x tele-extender
and try again

At the top of the clearing is none other than Callisto's spiral staircase from Sacrifice 2 - the one she stood beside when giving Hope the 'Gabby look'. It was first used (I think) in Hercules and the Amazon Women, and last used in Love Amazon Style.
Beside it are the two curving staircases to the main 'hall' of the Amazon village in Hercules and the Amazon Women. (The building has gone).

This clearing has been used in innumerable episodes - for example, the capture scene in Ides of March, probably the Xena and Brutus scene in the same episode, Aphrodite riding nude in Love Amazon Style, Herc talking to Morrigan in Darkness Rising, the fight scene at the start of Let The Games Begin and probably dozens of the scenes set in clearings where there isn't enough background to identify. There are also large areas of surrounding 'bush' which have probably also been used but again aren't identifiable.

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Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Exceptions are:
The 'New Xenaland' name and 'Xena' logos
Screengrabs and 'stills' from 'Hercules' and 'Xena' which are (C) Renaissance Pictures
Large-scale topographic maps which are (C) Land Information NZ

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