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Take a tour through Wellington’s filmmaking history and explore the locations where the magic of the movies has been brought to life.
As soon as you land at Wellington Airport you know you've reached the home of Sir Peter Jackson's movie-making empire. Greeting you in the arrival hall are three massive Middle-earth giants - Gandalf and the eagles, Gollum and his fishes, and Smaug the dragon. These epic installations were created by the talented craftsman of Oscar-winning Weta Workshop and are a lasting reminder of the impact The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies have had on Wellington.
Visit the Thunderbirds Are Go shooting stage at Weta Workshop and discover the genuine props, models and miniatures behind the modern-day remake of this popular television series. The tour features the scale models used as the filming sets for Tracy Island, the Thunderbird Hangers, and Creighton Ward Manor, as well as the shooting stage and authentic models being built by Weta Workshop technicians. The 45-minute tour with a member of the experienced Weta Workshop crew comes highly recommended and is guaranteed to unleash your inner-child.res like they do!
The first stop for film buffs and LOTR fans, Weta Cave is the shop front of the multiple Oscar-winning Weta Workshop, the brainchild of Sir Peter Jackson and Sir Richard Taylor. View a selection of props, buy collectibles and watch an exclusive behind-the-scenes film about the Workshop, which was propelled to fame after producing sets, costumes, armour, weapons and creatures for The Lord of the Rings films. Take a Weta Studio Tour to get an even closer, behind-the-scenes look at how movie magic is made in Miramar.
Roxy Cinema is a beautiful art deco cinema that was brought back to life by a collective of Wellington's Oscar-winning moviemakers and hospitality stars, including Weta Workshop's Sir Richard Taylor. The cinema’s two theatres boast state-of-the-art sound design and projection technology, incredibly comfortable Italian leather seats, plus you can enjoy wine and snacks from their stylish restaurant and bar while you watch. Some of the cinema's fittings and artworks were created by Weta Workshop artists. You are in for a very special movie-going experience.
Co-owned by the Oscar-winning trio of Sir Peter Jackson, Sir Richard Taylor and Jamie Selkirk, Stone Street Studios' facilities were extensively used by New Line Cinema, Universal Pictures and Warner Brothers for the production of The Lord of the Rings, King Kong and The Hobbit Trilogy. Stone Street Studios and neighbouring film infrastructure Weta Workshop, Weta Digital and Park Road Post Production make an enticing "one-stop-shop" for overseas productions to New Zealand and provide local film-makers with facilities of international quality. Stone Street Studios is not open to the public.
Developed by Sir Peter Jackson for filmmakers, Park Road Post prides itself on the highest standard of technical infrastructure. Completed in 2005, it houses a unique combination of services; from a world-class laboratory, through telecine, digital intermediate and HD post-production, to Academy Award® winning sound post-production. The facility’s select filmography includes Jackson’s The Hobbit Trilogy, The Lovely Bones and The Lord of the Rings trilogy; Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin; and popular New Zealand films Boy and Two Little Boys. Park Road Post Production is not open to the public.
Grand old picture palace Embassy Theatre was originally built in 1926 and was fully refurbished inside and out in 2003 for the world premiere of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Since then, the theatre has hosted the Australasian premieres of Peter Jackson's King Kong and The Lovely Bones, among many of Wellington's finest film and arts festivals. It's also where the world premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was held on 28 November 2012.
Five Armies film for Dale - the town of men that sits in the shadow of the Lonely Mountain. An entire set was built at Mt Crawford to depict the village but was burnt down as a part of the filming. The location is on private land, however, you can view this location by looking across from neighbouring Mount Victoria - the site of many other locations in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy including the famous 'get off the road' scene.
At the top of Courtenay Place near Embassy Theatre you’ll find a towering, threatening creature poised to run amok – but look closely and you’ll see it’s made from recycled mechanical parts including old camera reels, Nintendo Gameboys and a toasted sandwich maker. Weta Workshop was commissioned to create Tripod in 2005 to celebrate Wellington’s film and television industry and used recycled materials to pay tribute to the New Zealand screen industry's number 8 wire attitude and ability to create with whatever is at hand.
Mount Victoria Lookout is one of the city’s most popular visitor sites, offering panoramic views across the city and was the setting for some of the very first footage for The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. "We found a really good, spooky-looking road for the scene where the four hobbits run and hide under the tree roots as the Black Rider approaches," Sir Peter Jackson says of the site on Mount Victoria, which was used in the famous 'get off the road' scene.
A cliff face by Lyall Bay, a popular surf beach along Wellington’s rugged South Coast, was the setting for Dunharrow in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. On their days off during filming Billy Boyd (Pippin) and Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn) learned to surf at Lyall Bay, with Mortensen famously having to be shot as a right-to-left profile for some scenes after an incident with his surfboard. Filming for King Kong’s Skull Island also took place here.
The film community make their mark on Wellington not just through movies, but also through their art. Izzat Design, whose artists created props for films such as Avatar, The Lord of the Rings and King Kong, has contributed to a range of exhibitions at Te Papa, including recreating seven extinct birds of New Zealand for the Blood, Earth, Fire exhibition. In collaboration with a number of creative Wellington companies and Te Papa, Weta Workshop created the incredible larger-than-life models in Gallipoli: the scale of our war exhibition on display on level one at Te Papa.
No two days are the same at Wellington Zoo, the ‘best little zoo in the world’, especially back when it was used as a location for Sir Peter Jackson’s 1992 comedy horror film, Braindead. The world’s first carboNZero certified zoo was also used for filming for the popular WotWots series, an animated children’s television show produced by Academy® Award-winning Weta Workshop that followed pair of inquisitive, creative alien siblings as they learn about life on Earth.
To help create the sound of 10,000 chanting Uruk-hai orcs during the Battle of Helm's Deep for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, director Sir Peter Jackson recorded 30,000 enthusiastic cricket fans chanting in the Black Speech during the lunch break of a BLACKCAPS cricket match at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium in 2002. You can head along to a sports match at the stadium and recreate some stomping and chanting of your own.
Top Bollywood filmmakers used downtown Wellington as a setting for a remake of The Italian Job, Players, in 2011. It featured popular Bollywood stars Abhishek Bachchan, Sonam Kapoor and Bipasha Basu and was the first film to be shot in New Zealand by well-known director brothers Abbas - Mustan. The around Frank Kitts Lagoon was used for the legendary car chase scenes and filming also took place on the City to Sea Bridge that connects Civic Square to the waterfront.
Wellington doubled for a futuristic version of Hong Kong in the film adaptation of acclaimed Japanese manga Ghost in the Shell. Shot at Stone Street Studios, Avalon Studios and on location at Victoria Street in the central city, it was the first time urban New Zealand had been showcased as a sci-fi setting on the silver screen. The concept design and visual effects were also carried out locally by the Oscar-winning Weta Workshop.