New Zealand’s cutest theatres

New Zealand’s cutest theatres

For me New Zealand is: mountains, lakes and gorgeous sunsets. In one word: nature.

I never imagined New Zealand would hide a wealth of cute little theatres. There are little theatres everywhere in this country, which caught me by surprise. In Belgium all the independent theatres were disappearing.  Here it’s the opposite. Hurray for New Zealand!

The authenticity and disarming charm sweeps me off my feet. Every single time. Add a pink wall, retro seats and a sweet lady or man behind the counter and that’s a recipe for a good evening.

I made it my mission to visit all those little, cute and weird (yes there are some weird ones) cinema theatres.  I’ve had this post in my head for quite a while and I was very happy to dive into this world and do extensive ‘research’.

For the film lovers amongst you I’ll list them up. And even if you’re not that into movies, check out the buildings, they’re so quirky and a delight to the eye.

1. The Mayfair Theatre – Kaikoura

Mayfair Kaikoura theatreYou can find this cute and eye-catching theatre just at the side of the water in the little village of Kaikoura. I love how pink it is – I am usually not a fan of pink, but I like how it stands out and it’s ‘owning’ the colour. (PS: the inside is also pink)

It has been there since 1934! The art deco theatre has always been – and still is – community owned and run. I can’t believe they managed to survive that long. This happened through the help of a committee of volunteers who help out on a regular basis. I was able to have a chat with Andy, who runs the theatre on a daily basis. It is amazing to see how passionate she is and how she loves to spend hours in this quirky theatre.

There is one cinema room and they only started using a 3D projector in 2013, before that everything happened with old school film!

When you’re travelling along the South Island, you will definitely pass Kaikoura on the east coast. Please make a stop and enjoy this charming place! They can use your support (buy as much candy as you can) and you will have a lovely time!

The Mayfair Theatre
80 The Esplanade

2.The Gecko – Motueka Motueka the gecko theatre

The Gecko is one of those small theatres where you feel at home in an instant. It is located in Motueka, a town of about 7000 people. If you don’t know about this cinema, you probably won’t find it. It is quite hidden behind the main road. Luckily for you you’re reading this blog.

It is the only boutique theatre in the Tasman region and is locally owned and operated. With its two rooms, one for 25 people and one tiny one with only 10 seats, you will always find your choice. In the big room the couches, footrests, pillows and coffee tables add to a joyful atmosphere!

Motueka the gecko theatre


The smaller room is more intimate and I LOVE to drink a tea in there. There are no big tables as in the other room, but you get your own personal tiny coffee table. Nothing like putting your feet up with a nice tea while watching a film. What – a – service!


The movies you find here are more independent festival films and documentaries.

The Gecko
23B Wallace Street

3. Basement Cinema – RotoruaClimbing cinema Rotorua

Yes this is a climbing hall AND a cinema. Do you see? New Zealand is not only mountains and lakes; it is also weird combinations of sport and culture in a basement!

They call themselves Rotorua’s answer to alternative cinema. The Basement Cinema thinks Indie movies are not given the respect they deserve, so this theatre presents a more varied programme, including material from around the world, as far as Europe, Africa and Samoa – which is great!

There are two screens, both in a small room. One of the rooms has 13 seats, the other 23 seats. All very cosy with good views.

So if you’re keen for an evening climbing and then catching a movie: Basement Cinema is the place to be!

The Basement Cinema
1140 Hinemoa Street

4. Regent Theatre – HokitikaHokitika Regent Theatre
Another oldie in New Zealand is the Regent Theatre on the west coast of the South Island. It is the only cinema in the little town of Hokitika (3000 inhabitants) and goes all the way back to 1935.

This art deco theatre plays the big stuff, you can sit back and enjoy all the big Hollywood blockbusters in comfy seats. There is only one room (with dark red seats), but it is quite big, so I shouldn’t worry about not finding a seat.

Regent Theatre
23 Weld Street

5. Alice Cinematique – Christchurch

Alice Cinematique ChristchurchAlice Cinematique is the one I visit most, because it is in Christchurch, where I live. It is actually a video rental shop – yes they still exist – with an almost unnoticeable door left of the counter. That door leads you into a magical Egyptian style theatre! There is only one room and you feel in a different world with the luxurious dark red seats and Pharaoh statues around you.

Alice Cinematique Christchurch


The 38 seat cinema focusses mostly on art house movies and documentaries. You sit, relax, enjoy and afterwards you go for a stroll between the DVD’s or go for a drink at neighbouring cafe C1. And that’s how you enjoy a night out in Christchurch!


Check it out on:

Alice Cinemateque
209 Tuam Street

“Everything I learned I learned from the
movies.” – Audrey Hepburn


There you go peeps, I shared my first five secret and cute theatres in New Zealand. I adore every single one of them and I hope I was able to share that with you. If you live in New Zealand, try and look for the small independent theatres, leave the big chains alone. And if you’re planning to visit New Zealand one day, keep this list and enjoy all (or at least one) of those little treasures!

9 thoughts on “New Zealand’s cutest theatres

  1. Great post! I agree, independent cinemas 🎟 are the best. 😉 Thanks for including the Mayfair in your list. And I’m glad my passion for movies 🎬 has come across!

    1. Hi Andy, very happy to have you in the list! The Mayfair is such a great place, I’m telling everyone who’s going to Kaikoura 🙂

    1. Deal Fede! I happily join you to those cute theatres 🙂 Echt super gezellig en schattige plekjes! You’ll LOVE it!

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