Add Weta Workshop to your Lord of the Rings (and Avatar) tour of New Zealand and combine it with visiting Hobbiton and other movie locations.
Weta studios in Wellington, New Zealand
Hollywood is more or less synonymous with the American film industry and is associated with almost every blockbuster movie. But the modern globalized world is a little more complicated than saying every “Hollywood” movie is made in Hollywood. New Zealand now has a big hand in making some of the biggest blockbuster movies. Hollywood has taken outsourcing movie production of some of its movies to New Zealand (as well as Canada and Australia).
The New Zealand film industry entered a new era with the making of the Lord of the Rings, and visitors can learn all about it at the Wētā Workshop and at the Wētā Cave. Perhaps New Zealand’s best-known movie attraction is the famed Hobbiton movie set just out of Auckland. New Zealand is a country that uses both its creative talent and its stunning landscapes to create original and vivid imaginary worlds. Instagrammable places like Roys Peak showcase just how picturesque New Zealand is.
Hollywood’s Outsourced Movies Produced In New Zealand
Wētā Workshop is the main special effects and prop company based in Wellington, New Zealand. It specializes in producing effects for television and films – including some of the biggest blockbusters of the modern era.
The Wētā Workshop is named after the New Zealand wētā – one of the world’s largest insects that’s found in caves in New Zealand. Wētā Workshop was founded in 1987 and went on to produce the sets, costumes, armor, weapons, creatures, and miniatures for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. In Wellington, there is also Weta Digital (now called Weta FX) which operates independently.
Some of the notable movies that have been worked on by Wētā Workshop include The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, I Robot, King Kong, The Legend of Zorro, Avatar, Mad Max: Fury Road, Blade Runner 2049, Mulan, Thor: Love and Thunder, Avatar: The Way of Water, and many others. After touring New Zealand, moviegoers may notice the many New Zealand references in many of those movies (including Avatar: The Way of Water).
It may come as a surprise to many, but the American film industry is only the third largest in the world by the number of movies produced annually (behind India and China). Hollywood releases over 600 English-language films every year.
Visit The Wētā Cave
Visiting the Wētā Cave is a must for any pop culture fans out there. It can also be part of one’s Lord of the Rings tour of New Zealand (see how the movies were made and not just where they were made). It is located around a 15 to 20 minutes drive from downtown Wellington.
At Wētā Workshop, movie buffs get to see Wētā designed collectibles, prop replicas, books, jewelry, art prints, gifts, apparel, and movie memorabilia. See how New Zealand’s Kawarau Gorge was transformed into the Pillars of the Kings in Lord of the Rings and how New Zealand’s volcanic Tongariro National Park was transformed into Mordor.
People can visit the Wētā Cave and its mini-museum for free. People will be able to see some of the artifacts seen in the movies in real life. See the miniature props from the films they have worked on and apparel designed by Wētā artists.
- Admission Fee: Free
- Address: 1 Weka Street, Miramar, Wellington
The tour spaces of Wētā Workshop do not permit photography, although pictures are permitted in Wētā Cave.
Guided Tours Of Wētā Workshop
Book a guided tour and hands-on workshop. It is strongly recommended to book a tour online in advance as the tours often sell out (the peak season is October to April). The tours have the option of upgrading to include return transfers from the Wellington City i-SITE. To take public transport from Wellington, take the 18e bus to stop 6240 on Darlington Road (more info on Metlink).
- Duration: 1 Hour 30 Minutes
- Cost: From $50 NZD ($32 USD)
On the tour, visitors learn about the making of movie effects, from armor to weapons, make-up to miniatures, and much more. See physical effects, and props, and discover how the imaginary world is brought to life. See the costumes and creatures from Avatar, District 9, The Lord of the Rings, and more.
Visitors get to interact with awesome stuff from their creative departments and have the chance to even catch an artist at work on the tour stage.