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Inside New Zealand's Weta Workshop

If you’re a film geek like me, the Weta Workshop is a must. I’m not ashamed to say that – from the moment I clapped eyes on its Hobbit hole-inspired exterior – I was overwhelmed. In fact, cruising through the streets of Wellington en route to the ‘Cave’ as it’s dubbed, I could feel the butterflies. I was about to see a Lord of the Rings goblin. In person. Enough said.

Of course I was thinking about the photo opportunities (just like this one, below), but I was also thrilled to be getting a behind the scenes glimpse into the workshop that had masterminded props and models from some of my favourite Hollywood (or rather, Wellywood?) blockbusters. Here’s my whistlestop inside look at New Zealand’s iconic, epic and downright impressive Weta Workshop…

What’s on display at Weta?

Apart from the final room where you can take as many snaps as you’d like, the Weta Workshop has a strict no photography policy. This is largely down to rules around copyright across the various film studios, but also helps keep the movie magic you’ll experience here a special secret.

What I can reveal however, is that the extent of props, visual effects and models here is vast and so detailed, they’ll stick with you forever – no photos required. You’ll admire alien suits from District 9, King Kong sculptures, full-size armoured vehicles, and of course, a plethora of weaponry from one of the greatest fantasy trilogies ever made: Lord of the Rings.

In the final room you’ll have the opportunity to photograph orcs up close, not to mention original sketches, weaponry and armour from Tolkien’s movies. You’ll also get to see the stage…

Check out Weta works in progress

I visited Weta just before Halloween and, as such, was lucky enough to see some scary heads being created by one of the many talented artists that work here. The staging area, also in the last room of the tour, offers a chance to see all the different elements that go into crafting these creatures, as well as meet the makers – who have plenty of insight on movie production. For those who want to get really hands-on, Weta also runs creative workshops for a more interactive experience.

The Weta Workshop is souvenir heaven

From Lord of the Rings bookmarks to tea towels to replica jewellery, the Weta Cave Shop – the start and end point for your Weta Workshop tour – is the perfect place to bag some Kiwi-made movie memorabilia.

You can also pose for pictures with life-size sculptures in and around the Cave (you can even grab a snap with Lurtz, the terrifying Uruk-hai orc pictured above, if you’re feeling brave), chat to passionate staff about their vast film knowledge, and watch an exclusive documentary about Weta and its history. Best of all, entry to the shop itself is free, making it an even more appealing addition to the tour itself.

The Cave is open seven days a week, 9am-5.30pm, excluding Christmas Day.

Take the Weta Workshop tour for NZ$28pp, or combine it with the Thunderbirds Miniatures tour for NZ$45pp. Chat to your Flight Centre Travel Expert about adding a tour to your New Zealand holiday itinerary.

Written by Alexandra Cronin (Gregg)

Once a roving local news reporter and now a travel-obsessed writer/sub, I'm head-over-heels for nature, wildlife and the ocean. When I'm not getting up close to animals and sea creatures, I'm seeking out the sets of my favourite TV shows around the world. 

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