The 18 Best New Zealand Detective Series and Crime Shows

Welcome to the captivating world of New Zealand detective series, where compelling mysteries, gripping investigations, and stunning scenery come together to create an unforgettable viewing experience.

These shows, which are renowned for their original storytelling and captivating characters, take viewers on a wild ride through the seedy world of crime and the relentless pursuit of justice.

Each series spins a tale that not only solves the most perplexing cases but also provides a glimpse into the rich cultural tapestry of New Zealand, from the bustling urban centers to the picturesque rural landscapes that the country is so well known and loved for.

So get ready for a compelling journey full of suspense, intrigue, and the unyielding spirit of those determined to uphold the law and discover the truth.

The Brokenwood Mysteries, Prime (2014 – present)

In The Brokenwood Mysteries, the unconventional investigator Detective Senior Sergeant Mike Shepherd works with Detective Kristin Sims to solve intricate and intriguing murder cases in the seemingly peaceful and quiet town of Brokenwood.

The two investigate a variety of suspicious deaths in each episode, sifting through a maze of motives and secrets that tests their wit and knowledge.

In order to bring justice to the victims and closure to the grieving families, they must navigate both personal and professional challenges as they unearth hidden facts and unravel the pieces of each complex puzzle.

The Gulf, Three (2019 – present)

Detective Jess Savage, a talented and tenacious investigator haunted by her past, is the central character of The Gulf, which follows her as she takes on the diverse cases of clients seeking justice in the picturesque yet mysterious surroundings of Waiheke Island, New Zealand.

Jess explores dangerous and challenging mysteries as she unravels webs of deceit and betrayal.

Her personal and professional lives become intertwined as she pursues the truth with tenacity, not just in her clients’ cases but also in her pursuit of the truth surrounding her husband’s “accidental” death.

Viewers are taken on an enthralling journey through her decisions and the secrets she unearths in her quest for closure and resolution.

Top of the Lake (Season 1), BBC UKTV (2013 – 2017)

The first season of Top of the Lake follows Detective Robin Griffin as she visits her sick mother in her hometown of New Zealand and gets involved in the investigation into the disappearance of a pregnant 12-year-old girl.

As Robin investigates the case further, she comes face to face with the unsettling truths and sinister secrets that the small, close-knit community is hiding.

Her emotional journey is further complicated by her relentlessness when chasing the truth, which forces her to face her own traumas.

Robin fights against time to solve the disturbing mystery and bring the perpetrator to justice while battling personal demons.

The Sounds, Neon (2020)

The title is a reference to the Marlborough Sounds in New Zealand, where the series primarily takes place.

The Sounds protagonists Maggie Cabbott and her husband Tom move there in order to leave their troubled past behind and start over by running a marine company in the peaceful coastal town.

However, when Tom mysteriously disappears, their plans take an unexpected turn.

Maggie uncovers a complex web of secrets, betrayals, and hidden motives within the seemingly peaceful community as she sets out on a desperate search for answers.

As she races against time to learn the truth about her husband’s disappearance, Maggie finds herself caught up in a perilous game of trust and deception.

One Lane Bridge, TVNZ (2020)

In One Lane Bridge, new detective Ariki Davis is tasked with looking into a mysterious and unsettling death on a remote bridge in the breathtaking New Zealand countryside.

Ariki becomes increasingly entangled in the local Māori myths and legends as he investigates the case as they appear to be connected to the victim’s mysterious circumstances.

He must walk a tightrope between reality and the supernatural with each turn, uncovering the dark secrets of the small town and battling his own demons in the process.

His resolve to find the truth is put to the test as a result of the investigation, causing him to doubt his convictions and confront the unexplainable forces at work.

Harry, TV3 (2013)

Harry shines a light on the shadowy underbelly of the criminal underworld against a backdrop of urban chaos.

It centers on Samoan-Kiwi Detective Senior Sergeant Harry Anglesea, a seasoned investigator well-known for his unconventional approaches to solving cases.

Harry is a gifted but troubled detective whose keen intuition and street smarts make him an invaluable member of the police force.

He takes on a variety of difficult crimes with an unwavering commitment to cracking each case while also juggling emotional baggage and personal struggles.

Throughout the entire series, viewers follow Harry’s unrelenting search for justice, observing his fortitude, frailties, and the toll his line of work takes on his personal life.

The Blue Rose, TV3 (2013)

Jane March, a temp at a law firm, is the main character of The Blue Rose.

When she learns that she is taking a dead woman’s job, she is suddenly thrust into a gripping mystery.

Rose’s best friend Linda and Jane launch their own investigation after realizing that Rose’s death is not as simple as it appears, recruiting help from a number of other company employees.

As they investigate the case further, they uncover a web of deceit, corporate corruption, and hidden agendas, setting them on a dangerous path.

They must negotiate the perilous world of power and intrigue with each new revelation, risking their lives to discover the truth about Rose’s passing.

Dear Murderer, TVNZ (2017)

Dear Murderer is based on the real-life experiences of New Zealand’s infamous criminal defense attorney, Mike Bungay.

It follows Bungay’s life as he becomes well-known in the legal community and defends clients who are charged with heinous crimes.

The charming and cunning lawyer’s personal life becomes more turbulent as he finds success, and he struggles between his professional aspirations and the effects of his decisions on those closest to him.

The show delves into this real-life enigmatic figure’s captivating and morally murky life in the midst of courtroom drama and legal wrangling.

The Gone, TVNZ (2023)

The Gone is one of the newer shows on the list as it just premiered on TVNZ this 2023!

At the center of the crime drama is a young Irish couple that goes missing while visiting a small town in New Zealand’s North Island.

This disappearance causes Irish detective Theo Richter to team up with local Māori detective Diana Huia to try and locate the pair before it’s too late.

As the investigation progresses, unexpected twists lead to a discovery that runs deeper than the detectives had expected and they are forced to confront a bigger danger to keep the small town and its residents safe.

The Bad Seed, TVNZ 1 (2019)

The Bad Seed is a five-episode TV series based on two best-selling novels by Charlotte Grimshaw that place a fairly well-to-do, suburban family, the Lamptons, front and center.

From the outside, the Lamptons have a pretty perfect life: patriarch Simon is a doctor, his wife Karen – a reputable philanthropist, and their two teenage daughters Elke and Claire are smart and beautiful.

However, their life is quickly thrown into a whirlwind when their neighbor Julia Stevens is murdered, and the spotlight falls on them.

Specifically, Detective Marie DaSilva and the Prime Minister’s wife Roza Hallwright take a particular interest in Simon and his brother Ford, who hide their own secrets about their past.

Alibi, TVNZ (2018)

TVNZ’s Alibi is definitely one for the books, if not for its gripping storyline then definitely for the way the story unfolds and the unique format that the show utilizes.

The crime drama centers on the murder of 17-year-old Jodie Hunter in the Awatahi community of New Zealand.

Each of the six episodes features interviews with one of the suspects: from Jodie’s boyfriend to her best friend, the local priest, her teacher, and even two members of the local community.

Viewers can watch the episodes in any order, but each reveals clues to figure out what happened on that fateful day that ended Jodie’s life.

My Life Is Murder (Seasons 2 and 3), TVNZ 1/Acorn TV (2019 – present)

Alexa Crowe, an ex-homicide detective who left the police force early, takes center stage in My Life Is Murder.

Alexa is witty and fearless, and her inquisitive nature and unmatched investigative skills brings her back into the business of solving crimes as a private investigator after retirement.

Alexa approaches every mystery with determination and intelligence, frequently employing unconventional techniques to solve the most challenging cases.

Together with her team of committed colleagues, she solves a variety of intriguing crimes while juggling the personal difficulties brought on by her unconventional lifestyle and commitment to the pursuit of justice.

Season 2 onwards brings Alex back to Auckland to be close to her brother.

Orange Roughies, TV One (2006 – 2008)

Orange Roughies revolves around a group of police and customs officers working for a newly formed elite task force in Auckland, New Zealand.

Led by their commander Ron Maddock, this diverse team of officers is under constant pressure to succeed as one wrong move could send their experimental task force to the chopping board.

As they navigate complex and high-risk customs inquiries, the officers face constant threats to their safety and must make tough decisions that blur the lines between right and wrong.

The series explores the challenges and sacrifices these officers make in their mission to protect society from dangers we might not even be aware of.

Duggan, Television One (1999)

The focus of Duggan is the eponymous Detective Inspector Duggan, a skilled and perceptive investigator who works on tough criminal cases in small-town New Zealand right before the turn of the century.

Duggan successfully solves a wide variety of mysteries, including murder, theft, and fraud, thanks to his keen intellect and talent for finding the truth.

When the show begins, he has already retired after the death of his wife, but he is convinced to return to the force to help solve cases around the areas of Marlborough Sounds, Picton, and Wellington.

Shark in the Park, Television One (1989 – 1991)

Detective Inspector Brian “Sharky” Finn, a highly capable and determined investigator in Wellington, New Zealand, is the subject of the series Shark in the Park.

Given his unique nickname, the officers under his responsibility came up with a sort of code: the show’s name, Shark in the Park, to let others in the precinct know when he was nearby and they should “look busy”.

Sharky guides his team in taking on a variety of criminal cases, from minor infractions to high-profile homicides, using an unconventional approach to crime solving.

Viewers witness his sharp instincts as he navigates the complexities of each challenging case.

Wellington Paranormal, TVNZ 2 (2018 – present)

Wellington Paranormal is a spin-off of the 2014 movie What We Do in the Shadows and is the first series in the franchise.

Taking place in Wellington, New Zealand, and focusing on the Paranormal Unit, two unassuming police officers named Officers Minogue and O’Leary are tasked with looking into paranormal and otherworldly occurrences, which puts them in strange and frequently hilarious situations as they deal with ghosts, vampires, werewolves, and other supernatural beings.

Despite their skepticism, the officers must adjust to the bizarre and supernatural circumstances they encounter while attempting to uphold law and order in the face of the unexplainable.

Westside, Three (2015 – 2020)

The drama series Westside is based in New Zealand and serves as a prequel to the well-known program Outrageous Fortune.

The story follows the West family, headed by matriarch Rita and her husband Ted as they navigate Auckland’s criminal underworld in the 1970s and early 1980s.

Real-life events serve as the historical backdrop for the show as it explores the family’s complicated dynamics, struggles, and involvement in numerous criminal activities.

The West family experiences ups and downs throughout the series and encounters both challenges and important relationships that affect their lives.

Outrageous Fortune, TV3 (2005 – 2010)

Speaking of Outrageous Fortune, the last show on our list is the said parent series (but chronological sequel) of Westside.

Viewers first meet the West family and its matriarch Cheryl, alongside her husband Wolf, as they decide to leave behind their life as career criminals and instead abide by the rules of law after Wolf is sent to prison.

As Cheryl tries to lead her family on a path of legitimacy, they face various challenges, temptations, and the consequences of their past actions, making the road to a better future no easy feat.

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