New Zealand’s movie secrets are well and truly out after guided tours of Wellington-based Weta Workshop’s filmmaking facilities were listed as one of the top 10 film studio tours in the world.
The tours have proved incredibly popular with more than 100,000 people getting a taste of Weta Workshop’s movie magic since the beginning of April last year.
British newspaper The Guardian ranked the Weta Workshop’s guided tours alongside tours of Warner Brothers Studios in Hollywood and Leavesden studios near London, where the Harry Potter movies were filmed.
Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency chief executive Chris Whelan said the Weta studio tours played an important role in the city’s reputation as New Zealand’s accessible film capital.
“The tour allows people to get a glimpse into the fantastical world of the five-time Academy Award winning Weta Workshop, part of the Weta Group of Companies that has established Wellington as a global player in the motion picture industry.”
“We have a film-themed trilogy in our own backyard with the production of award-winning films, tourists clamouring for a taste of New Zealand’s film capital, and Weta Workshop’s tour gaining global recognition. It adds up to a blockbuster tale for Wellington.”
Weta Workshop general manager Dave Wilks said the top 10 accolade for the tours came as a result of the exceptional work put in by staff to provide the public with a fantastic tour experience.
“For Weta studio tours to be included in a list alongside Warner Brothers tours is awesome. I know our crew go out of their way every day to provide great experiences for visitors. It’s terrific for us to have their hard work recognised on a global stage like this.”
The Workshop Tour takes visitors on a journey through Weta Workshop’s creative process as told by a crew member. The tour space is filled with authentic film props, costumes, miniatures, creatures and vehicles, and you can often catch a glimpse of work being done inside the workshop through a series of windows.
In late 2015 Weta Workshop also launched Thunderbirds Are Go Behind-The-Scenes Experience, showing how they helped to remake the classic 1960s TV puppet series for a modern audience. The tour of an authentic shooting stage includes the authentic props, models, vehicles and sets used in the new version of the show.
Both guided tours start and finish at the Weta Cave shop which boasts a huge range of movie merchandise for film buffs to add to their collections.
Perhaps best known for their work on The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, Weta Workshop’s creative portfolio also includes Avatar, District 9, The Adventures of Tintin, Elysium and Krampus, and Warcraft due out later this year.
Weta have also created large scale public sculptures including those at the hugely popular 'Gallipoli: The scale of our war exhibition' at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.
Wellington has forged an enviable reputation as a compact city brimming with culture, technology, events, and a world class hospitality sector. Lonely Planet called Wellington 'the coolest little capital in the world', while last year Wellington made the BBC’s list of the 'Hottest Cities of the Year'.
Wellington, which reportedly has more cafes and restaurants per capita than New York City, also appeared on CNN.com’s list of the world’s “8 Great Coffee Cities” in 2014.
The Weta Workshop - in the city's Miramar film hub - is a 15-minute drive from downtown Wellington or 5 minutes from Wellington International Airport.