Journey Beyond the Screen

St. Bathans

New Zealand: The Light Between OceansSt. Bathans: Hannah's Cottage

Location

St. Bathans was once a booming goldmining town with the first goldrush taking place here in 1863. The iconic Blue Lake stands testament to the extent of the goldmining in the area, turning what was once a 120-metre hill into a 68-metre hole. In 1932 the site was finally abandoned and left to fill with the mineral-rich water from the surrounding hills. Swim here if you dare (the crystal blue water is enticing, but freezing!)

The stunning Blue Lake at St. Bathans.

The stunning Blue Lake at St. Bathans.

The town's iconic Vulcan Hotel (which is reputedly haunted) was built out of mudbrick in 1882 to service the 2000 miners in the area. These days St. Bathans is a one-street town with a population of... 7.

You can't miss the Vulcan Hotel on the main street of St. Bathans.

You can't miss the Vulcan Hotel on the main street of St. Bathans.

St. Bathans was chosen as a location for The Light Between Oceans as the architecture of the town is perfectly in keeping with the period of the film. 100 locals (from surrounding villages and farms) were recruited as extras for the film, and were even bussed down to Dunedin (3 hours away) for costume fittings.

Key Scenes

Hannah Roennfeldt's (Rachel Weisz) cottage is located on the main street of St. Bathans, about 200 metres uphill from the Vulcan Hotel.

Hannah Roennfeldt makes her way up the main street.

Hannah Roennfeldt makes her way up the main street.

Wander up the street, following Hannah's route in the shot above, and you'll spot the 1860's mudbrick house behind a bright red picket fence. Though the cottage is privately owned, feel free to stand at the gate and marvel at how a film crew could have fitted inside, let alone shot in, the tiny four-room dwelling.

Hannah and her sister Gwen Potts (Emily Barclay) in the front garden of the cottage.

Hannah and her sister Gwen Potts (Emily Barclay) in the front garden of the cottage.

Once you've had a look at the cottage, don't miss the other architectural highlight of St. Bathans - the delightfully quaint town hall.

Just five paces uphill from the Vulcan Hotel is St. Bathans town hall - enter the red door on the left.

Just five paces uphill from the Vulcan Hotel is St. Bathans town hall - enter the red door on the left.

The site of Tom Sherbourne's stage appearance.

The site of Tom Sherbourne's stage appearance.

Here Tom Sherbourne (Michael Fassbender) stands on stage and gives his awkward speech at the service honouring war veterans, and the painful scene between Isabel Sherbourne (Alicia Vikander), Tom and Hannah takes place when Hannah meets their pretty daughter Lucy, who she doesn't yet realise is her own lost daughter Grace.

After a short interaction with Lucy, Hannah's eyes well with tears and she excuses herself from Tom and Isabel's company exclaiming: "You have a very lovely daughter."

The door to the hall is unlocked from 20 October - 30 April between the hours of 7am and 7pm, which means you can simply head on in. 

Videos

Map

Tips

As we were heading south to St. Bathans from Duntroon, we drove over the spectacular Danseys Pass, an unsealed road that cuts through the Kakanui Mountains. The early morning frost-tipped tussocks and the endless rolling hills were out of this world. 

The Kakanui Mountains on Danseys Pass.

The Kakanui Mountains on Danseys Pass.

We'd also recommend stopping for a coffee in the town of Naseby, which has a peculiar Twin Peaks charm about it. 

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