A trip down memory lane


The DVD release of a locally-filmed classic TV children’s series has revived memories for locals who were cast as extras. 

Hunter’s Gold, starring Kiwi actors Ian Mune, Ilona Rogers, Bruce Allpress and Ken Blackburn, was shot in Queenstown in 1976. 

The successful 13-part series, set in the 1860s Otago goldrush, was shown on TV2 and sold to 21 countries. 

TVNZ last month released it on DVD after a delay caused by a dispute over actors’ royalty payments. 

Local businessman and former mayor John Davies – then secretary/treasurer of the Wakatipu Rugby Club – recalls bumping into one of the producers who asked for ideas on recruiting extras. 

Davies: “I said, ‘I reckon the rugby club could get them for you, and then just receive a donation in lieu of wages’.

“That’s how the rugby club built their clubrooms.” 

Davies’ wife Trish organised the extras. 

“Without Trish we wouldn’t have got freehold clubrooms,” club stalwart Bryan Douglas says. 

“She had to ring every Tom, Dick and Harry.” 

John Davies adds: “We started running out of rugby club supporters and I think the golf club was involved and the bowling club – a lot of local clubs got a lot of money.” 

More than 120 extras were involved for shoots, mainly at Tucker Beach and Moke Lake. 

“The catering was very good,” Davies says. 

“Some of the scenes were till 10 or 11 o’clock at night. 

“Everyone who had a ride in the stagecoach came out shaking.” 

Because the town didn’t have TV2 reception, Davies recalls locals heading up to Coronet Peak, where a signal could be picked up, to watch each weekly episode. 

“It was pretty snowy, the reception,” he says.