How to Watch The Luminaries online (for FREE)

Eleanor Catton’s Man Booker Prize-winning 2013 novel, The Luminaries, has been turned into a six-part TV drama. Here’s how to watch The Luminaries online for free.

How to watch The Luminaries online: Quick guide

  1. Get ExpressVPN ($6.66/month) or Private Internet Access ($2.85/month)
  2. Download the respective VPN app on your device
  3. Open VPN and connect to a server in the UK
  4. Go to bbc.co.uk/iplayer
  5. Watch The Luminaries online (for free)

The Luminaries is a new show that represents a joint venture from TVNZ and BBC. The six-episode series, set during the 19th-century gold rush in New Zealand, boasts big-named stars such as Eva Green, Himesh Patel and Eve Hewson.

Which explains why New Zealand was (for once) the first country in the world to broadcast the show, back in May 2020. If you live in New Zealand, you can watch all six episodes of The Luminaries online for free – just go to TVNZ on-demand.

The mini-series is also now available on BBC iPlayer in the UK.

How to watch The Luminaries online (for free)

Watch The Luminaries: BBC iPlayer

How to watch The Luminaries online - BBC iPlayer

If you’re based in the UK, you can watch The Luminaries online for free. Just go to bbc.co.uk/iplayer and you’ll be able to stream all six episodes on the mini-series.

If you’re not in the UK, you’ll need to use a VPN to watch BBC iPlayer. Be careful though, as not all VPNs are able to unblock iPlayer.

That’s because the BBC started blocking VPNs from accessing the iPlayer back in late-2017. Since then, only a handful of VPNs have been able to beat the Beeb’s VPN ban.

I’ve been using ExpressVPN ($6.66/month) since May 2018 to watch BBC iPlayer, US Netflix, Hulu and dozens of other international TV streaming websites. Below is a list of five VPNs that, from my tests, continue to work with BBC iPlayer.

Take a look at BBC iPlayer not working with VPN to find out more.

How to watch The Luminaries online (for free): TVNZ

How to watch The Luminaries online - TVNZ

The Luminaries is also available to watch via the New Zealand channel TVNZ. If you’re not in New Zealand, you can still use a VPN to watch the show through TVNZ.

Finding a VPN that works with TVNZ is tricky. New Zealand, and TVNZ specifically, isn’t a big market for VPN providers – meaning most VPNs only have a handful of servers in New Zealand. 

And while high-end VPNs such as ExpressVPN ($6.66/month) and NordVPN ($2.99/month) employ technicians to monitor and fix their connections with streaming services such and US Netflix, Hulu and BBC iPlayer – TVNZ is not in the same league.

Which is a problem, as it creates the potential for thousands of customers to connect to TVNZ at the same time. If/when too many accounts are connected to TVNZ through the same VPN server, the offending IP address will get blacklisted for abnormal usage.

That said, Ivacy ($2.25/month) is currently unblocking TVNZ (plus BBC iPlayer, US Netflix, Hulu) for me.

If you want to try another VPN, then I suggest going with NordVPN ($2.75/month). It has dozens of servers in NZ, which means you have a better chance of finding a server, and IP address, that isn’t blocked by TVNZ. 

NordVPN is little more expensive than Ivacy, but it’s arguable a more premium product and it provides 24/7 live chat support if you’re ever having trouble finding a server that works with TVNZ or any other major streaming service.

Note (July 2020): Ivacy ($2.25/month) is the only VPN – from my tests – that is currently working with TVNZ. Take a look at my TVNZ not working with VPN article to find out more.

Read next: How to watch UK TV in New Zealand.

David Court
David is a professional journalist. He's been reviewing lifestyle and technology products since 2007. His CV boasts a series of high-profile websites that he's previously edited and managed. These sites include PCAdvisor.co.uk, TechAdvisor.co.uk, PCPro.co.uk, Alphr.com and ExpertReviews.co.uk. Reviewsfire.com is his new project.

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