16 January 2021

Karekare Beach, New Zealand

One of the first scenes of the film THE PIANO is set on a beach in New Zealand, sometime in the mid-19th century. A young Scotswoman, Ada McGrath (Holly Hunter), arrives in the recently colonised country where she has been sold into marriage to Alisdair Stewart (Sam Neill).

The Piano, 0:50:06
Ada has not spoken since she was six years old and communicates through sign language. Her young daughter Flora (Anna Paquin) is her interpreter. Among her possessions she has brought from Scotland is a piano. Alisdair arrives with a crew to take her to his house. Her husband-to-be says there is no room for the instrument and abandons it on the beach. Without informing Ada, Alisdair trades the piano with George Baines (Harvey Keitel) for land. Baines gives Ada the opportunity to earn back her beloved piano.

Filming in New Zealand began on 11 May 1992 and continued until July 1992. The beach where Ada and Flora arrive is Karekare Beach on the North Island, 35 kilometres (22 miles) west of Auckland. The sand is black due to the high level of obsidian, also known as volcanic glass.

The Piano, 0:06:56
Karekare Beach, 30 December 2019
The Piano, 0:10:55
Karekare Beach, 30 December 2019
The Piano, 0:13:39
Karekare Beach, 30 December 2019

During our visit, the sky was clouded just like in the film, later on in the movie it becomes sunny.

The Piano, 0:23:30
Karekare Beach, 30 December 2019

The movie poster also shows the beach.

The Piano movie poster
Karekare Beach, 30 December 2019

Screenshots © Jan Chapman Productions PTY Limited/CiBy 2000