Weta Cave is ,of course, a mandatory stopover in your LOTR/Hobbit pilgrimage, but the attraction (attraction, because it is so much more than a shop) is fun for everybody who is remotely interested in movie magic. The shop itself looks awesome. For example, the three huge trolls that feature in the new Hobbit film stand guard outside in the garden (don't worry: they have been petrified by Gandalf for your convenience. Don't forget to take some photos!), Gandalf himself watches over the cabinet with LOTR miniatures. Pose with him and snap a picture, but be careful not to offend him; he carries his staff ("I told you to take the wizard's staff"!) and he has a big Uruk-Hai to back him up in case of trouble.
The shop sells loads of merchandise from the LOTR/Hobbit universe, but stuff from other movies can also be admired (and bought). Items range from swords, laserguns (District 9), miniatures, clothing, books, dvd's and small memorabilia such as magnets, keychains etc. It is also possible to watch a short film in which the activities that Weta has been involved in are shown. This film is shown in a small cinema which can be accessed via the main shop. The shop in itself is pretty awesome. It actually really looks like a cave from the inside! It is free of charge (unless you buy something which is almost a given seeing as that there are so many great items for sale), but in the end it is just a shop. A great shop, but just a shop none the less. What made me refer to this shop as an "attraction" (first sentence of this review) you may wonder? The 'Window into the Workshop' of course! Takes lots of photos in the area of the shop itself, because this is prohibited during the workshop tour.
The hour long 'Window into the Workshop' tour really takes the cake. It allows you to enter the Weta workshop for a great behind the scenes tour. The knowledgeable and friendly tour guide (nobody in our group questioned him... although that might have had something to do with the samurai sword he was carrying - the sword that was used by Tom Cruise in 'The Last Samurai' no less!-) enlightened us about the the Wonderful World of Weta. The workshop was divided into several areas. Our small group (about 16 people) where led from one stop to the next. At each stop the guide explained something about that particular aspect of Weta. We were shown how the props for various movies were made (they used a laser gun from District 9 as an example but the same prionciple applied to every other prop ), what the material was made of, which projects Weta has been involved in (there is an amazing, larger than life, working Halo Humvee and let us not forget the armour of Sauron from LOTR) and what is done with props after the movie has been shot. For me as a LOTR afficionado it was particularly awesome to be allowed to touch and compare the different types of "chainmail" (in reality made from a special type of plastic to facilitate the actors' movements) and to see the different pieces of armour, shields and weapons that have been worn by the famous actors during filming of the LOTR trilogy. The tour takes about an hour and is really interactive. You can ask loads of questions from the guide and people who are currently working on projects also popped in for a quick chat during my tour. I thought that my money was well spent on this informative sojourn in the magic world of Weta.
Special thanks go out to the staff member that manned the cashier in the shop. He showed real flexibility when I turned up a tad late for the start of the tour (parking issues...). After I left the tour I realised that this is what makes Weta so special. It is staffed by fun, caring guys who think out of the box. I think this is reflected in the work they deliver.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
September 19, 2013
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Thanks for the fantastic feedback on the shop staff - we hope to see you again soon.
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.