New Zealand: Earth's Mythical Islands

Cast Adrift

Series 1 - Episode 1 Cast Adrift



Clouds of geo-thermal midges dance above the steaming waters of a stream too hot for fish to swim in; just-hatched tuatara, reptiles dating back to the dinosaurs, lurk in the mossy undergrowth of prehistoric woodland; and pohutukawa trees, smothered in crimson flowers, explode out of barren volcanic wasteland.

You can see why New Zealand is so popular with film-makers looking for “otherworldly” locations. Isolated from the rest of the world 80 million years ago, the islands are home to many weird and unique species while the landscape, created by violent geological forces, has been fissured and fractured to form exotic shapes.

But there are charming sights, too: hundreds of penguins purposefully waddle through prehistoric woodlands en route to their inland colony, while pods of dusky dolphins leap and twist and spin out of the coastal waters. These acrobatics, apparently, aren’t just fun but a means of communication.


Sam Neill narrates a documentary examining the wildlife of the antipodean island chain, which has been left to its own devices for 80 million years - with surprising consequences. The opening edition features New Zealand's weirdest and most ancient species, including dinosaur-like reptiles, insects that have become giants, and flightless birds that behave like badgers, while the people who settled developed their own unique culture, and all must battle the natural forces that shape the island nation.

Cast & Crew

Narrator Sam Neill
Director Mark Flowers
Executive Producer James Honeyborne
Series Producer Mark Flowers