New Zealand offers countless iconic experiences you won’t find anywhere else in the world: here is No. 28 of our 101 Reasons To Stop Dreaming About New Zealand And Go.
The screams you hear as you step off the escalator are a good indication of what’s ahead at Auckland/Tāmaki Makaurau’s Weta Workshop Unleashed: a nightmare of monsters of every sort, up so close that every ugly detail seems magnified. This is more than a horror-fest, though: on a fun 90-minute tour through a series of studios, you’ll see, hear, read and touch the backstory to the creation of the fantastical worlds that Weta has conjured up for our cinematic delight.
Lord of the Rings naturally features strongly in the shop where you check in for the tour, with exquisitely detailed items from dainty jewellery to towering orcs and trolls, and the head of Smaug, the dragon. On the guided tour though, the focus is on the three movies that Weta is currently working on, sharing the creative secrets and processes involved, from the initial storyboards of random ideas to final sets of mind-blowing detail. It’s very interactive, with clever technology allowing you to see yourself made up in a mirror as a monster, and lots of touching of props, costumes and fully formed monsters, with photography encouraged.
Visitors are invited to develop their own inventiveness, and shown how to turn ideas into reality. The tour’s presentation is typically entertaining, amusing and colourful, using sound, lighting and some distinctly creepy elements to deliver visitors into the alternate universe that Weta Workshop has made its own.
Emerging into the real world again is both a relief and a disappointment, after seeing and experiencing such next-level creativity, and the hard work and fun that go into our entertainment.