Newcastle United star struck at WETA Workshop

While New Zealand football fans are going wild for English Premier League side Newcastle United - in New Zealand for the Football United Tour - team members were left with stars in their eyes in Wellington this week.

Movie magic

Players and team management where treated to New Zealand movie magic with an exclusive tour of parts of Sir Peter Jackson’s film empire in the Wellington suburb of Miramar.

The team, including Rob Elliott, Samuel Ameobi, Ryan Taylor and Haris Vuckic, played around with larger than life trolls standing guard outside Weta Cave and had a hands-on experience of swords, guns and other The Lord of the Rings, and The Hobbit Trilogies film memorabilia.

The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogies fan, Samuel Ameobi was keen to put himself right in the picture, dressing up as the legendary Wizard Gandalf, complete with hat and staff.

Inside Weta Workshop, players and managers were fascinated by the creative genius and expertise of the artists as they posed questions and tinkered with movie props from the likes of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, King Kong, District 9, The Hobbit Trilogy and The Chronicles of Narnia.

Insider look

Weta Workshop - the latest addition to the expanding Weta compound - gives visitors an insider look at the making of costumes and props featured in the award-winning movies. Lucky visitors may even catch a glimpse of the creative minds in action through windows into the real work rooms.

After the Workshop tour, Newcastle’s Samuel Ameobi spoke of his joy of being able to visit the attraction and New Zealand.

"Weta Cave was amazing," the winger said. "I never thought I’d have the opportunity to go and see something like that. All the intricacy that goes into films these days is crazy.

"When I heard we were coming to New Zealand I was really excited. I’m a massive Lord of the Rings fan but I also couldn’t wait to see the landscapes from the films."

Newcastle goalkeeper Rob Elliot was equally impressed.

"The Cave was really good. I’m a big Lord of the Rings fan; actually I’m a bit of a geek - like Sammy [Ameobi]. When I heard we were coming to New Zealand I got really excited because of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. It was fantastic to get an inside look on how they make things for films, to actually see things that you don’t even think about."

Park Road Post

The team also visited nearby Park Road Post studios where they were invited into Sir Peter Jackson’s private cinema, and met Academy-award winning sound engineer Michael Hedges complete with his Oscar.

The two-time Oscar winner - The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) and King Kong (2005) - fascinated the Premier League stars’ with tales of Oscars, Baftas and the amazing work of the team that brought the celebrated stories to life on the big screen.

It seems that one player in particular has fallen in love with New Zealand and for whom the first impressions of this country will be enduring.

"New Zealand is brilliant," Elliot said. "When you fly in and you see the different types of terrain where you can live in one country and probably do every activity under the sun, that’s something I find really exciting so I’d love to come back.

"There are a few things I really want to do in New Zealand. I desperately want to go to Queenstown. We’ve been lucky to see a lot but there is a still so much more to see."

Dream adventure

Asked what his number one New Zealand adventure would be, the footballer didn’t hesitate: "I'd love to spend a week in Queenstown, ski and do all the adrenalin stuff. A canopy swing or bungy jump in Queenstown would be top of my list. A friend of mine went there and said it’s the best place he’s ever been."

Elliot could potentially have another reason to return to New Zealand soon.

"We drove past the Basin Reserve (Wellington cricket ground) on the way here which was amazing. I’m a massive cricket fan so to come back here for the Cricket World Cup in 2015, to see McCullum in action would be great."

Newcastle United are in New Zealand for the Football United Tour 2014, also featuring fellow English Premier League team West Ham United and A-League sides Wellington Phoenix and Sydney FC.

They have played in the South Island city of Dunedin, beating Sydney FC 4-0, and will take on Wellington Phoenix at Westpac Stadium on Saturday (26.07.14) in a game that has taken on a whole new significance since the New Zealand side shocked West Ham United with a 2-1 victory at Eden Park in Auckland on Wednesday (23.07.2014).

The football-filled day is set to be a fabulous occasion for Wellington - the capital city of New Zealand - with fans flying in from around the world to watch the four teams in action during the final day of the 10-day tour.