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Auckland’s Weta Workshop Unleashed: see, touch & take it in

Inspired by Wellington’s famous Weta Workshop, Weta Workshop Unleashed, located at Sky City Auckland, is like nothing to be experienced in New Zealand.

Part workshop, part filmset, the attraction boasts eye-popping practical effects from three original films which tourists can touch and take photos of. Made with no boundaries or client brief, it is truly a world of outstanding design and creativity.

Weta Workshop head of tourism, Jake Downing, says Unleashed came about to showcase the imagination of the talented Weta Workshop artists. Although they love the work they do for their clients, the Auckland workshop allows the artists to be completely unrestricted in terms of creativity.

“The whole premise is to unleash the creativity we all have inside and we hope people leave feeling inspired to try something new. It was also an opportunity for us to share our creative ideas with Auckland and expand beyond Wellington.”

Weta’s Wellington tours showcase props, costumes, and worlds created for films that visitors know, however due to copyright restrictions, taking photos is prohibited. At Auckland’s Weta Workshop Unleashed, people can go wild with their cameras and touch almost everything.

With so much to see and be a part of, the experience has a wide appeal. Unique to other film sets, Weta Workshop Unleashed allows tourists to participate in creating their very own props, including sculpting tinfoil, moulding faces with clay and making chainmail. You can be as involved as you like.

“It’s kind of part theme park ride, part gallery, part hands-on workshop,” says Downing.

“Our tours are 90 minutes long so you have the opportunity to take a good look around and ask all the questions you like. Adults love it, teenagers think it’s cool and kids are fascinated.”

From conceptualising of ideas, through to design, build and installation, the process behind the workshop took around two and a half years. Covid-19 caused plans to be put on hold for a few months, but with a strong belief behind the concept, the build continued. Based right in the heart of the CBD, Downing says Sky City was the perfect location to host the workshop.

“Right next door to us is the All Blacks Experience, so visitors can come to the Sky City precinct to visit us, visit the All Blacks Experience, take a Sky Tower walk or leap, and try out one of the really great eateries here too. We think it really works as a location.”

Downing says so far the feedback from visitors has been overwhelmingly positive, with some even doing the tour twice.

“Our visitors of all ages love it and come out with big smiles on their faces. We’ve had lots of return visitors and you can’t ask for more than that.”

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