New Xenaland
 
Whangaparaoa
 







Shakespear Regional Park, at the end of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula north of Auckland, has been used for just one Xena episode, but a number of Hercules episodes over the years, for some reason featuring a remarkably high percentage of attractive females. It's the only East Coast location that has been extensively used.


Because the East Coast has generally calmer water, sandy beaches and many islands, it's much more attractive for boating, residential development and trips to the beach, than the much wilder west coast. This in turn makes it much less convenient for filming without getting a screenful of onlookers, which is why RenPics stay mainly on the west coast. However, any time you see a shot of 'Rob's Folly' (the ship) off the coast, that's definitely East Coast and often near Whangaparaoa; Rob's Folly has never been to Bethells (it's 400 miles round North Cape and a dangerous coast for any small ship).


Shakespear Park is at the end of the peninsula, reached by driving past miles of residential subdivision. As you drive down the hill into the park, a familiar scene hits you right in the face - just ahead of you is Army Bay and the cliffs in front of which The Enforcer, the handsome android-like female in the Hercules episode of that name, walked naked out of the water. Very sadly, she wasn't there the day I visited. (Hercules being a family show, she very quickly killed someone and stole their cloak).

The same spot in Army Bay was also used for the beach scenes in Web of Desire, the episode that introduced Nebula to the world. Two episodes, two new, attractive and dangerous females - a perfect score.


First the Enforcer... ...then Nebula... ... striding decisively across Army Bay

Okoromai Bay, on the south side of the peninsula, is backed by marshy flats and overlooked by houses and has not been used by RenPics, so far as I know. The most popular and scenic beach, Te Haruhi Bay, is over the hill beyond and has been used quite extensively, though presumably not on fine summer Sundays.


Looking over Te Haruhi bay from the road in Te Haruhi Bay on a fine summer day
Like most East Coast beaches, the sea is shallow
and the waves small

Te Haruhi Bay has a wide flat grassed area behind the beach, backed by grassy hills which sweep round to form low cliffs at each end of the bay.


At the western end of the bay, a line of grey-green bushy pohutukawa trees separates the beach from an open grassy flat, backed by a tree-clad slope. This was the site of the beach scenes in Love on the Rocks and My Best Girl's Wedding. This beach outdoes even Army Bay for female co-stars - Serena and Aphrodite, Discord and Nautica have all been drawn to this spot. All this in fifty yards of beachfront.


Nautica au naturel
and Discord the very unnatural
Iolaus tells Aphrodite to get dressed.
That's way out of fashion in these parts
Iolaus and Nautica fleeing pursuers
through the pohutukawas
 
 
Looking east across the bay.
The just-visible black dot (left of the tree branch)
surrounded by a ring of white tape is a bird guarding its eggs
This time, the strange object on the beach
is due to RenPics
Serena takes her turn on
centre stage

On the occasion of my visit, the site of all these goings-on had been pre-empted by a large black bird with a long red beak and remarkably small brain which had chosen to lay its eggs in the middle of the beach. Someone had enclosed it in posts and tape to keep the public from treading on it. And there it stood, watching the curious passers-by watching it.


At the eastern end of the bay, a stream (dry in summer) runs onto the beach. It was around here that all the dry-land action in Lost Mariner took place. The initial scene fight with Xena running through the pohutukawas was just east of the stream; the later shots of Xena battling the ruffians was just to the west of the stream. The final scenes after the shipwreck were here too, but at high tide.



 
Xena fights her way towards the east end of the beach ... and fighting her way through the trees
(This was winter - note the colour of the hill slope behind)
much later our intrepid cameraman,
perched on a rock out at the point
with a long lens, manages to duplicate the scene

The shipboard scenes were probably shot nearby, very possibly off the eastern cliffs, but it would need a boat trip to confirm this.


They had a nice day for the sailing
This is probably off the eastern cliffs
But it was a rough wintry day
when they filmed the ending



A few miles further north is the small Wenderholm Regional Park, a sheltered inlet at the mouth of the Puhoi River. Reputedly this was used for filming the sea battle in Anthony & Cleopatra, though very little can be seen in the episode itself, since it was set at night.



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