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Wētā Workshop Unleashed: The ultimate review

Join us as we review the relatively new Wētā Workshop Unleashed. This tour is located in Auckland’s CBD and is fun for the whole family!

Is there any name more synonymous with creativity than Wētā?

Wētā Workshop, which until now was only able to be toured in Wellington, has finally made it to Auckland!

We recently paid this incredible workshop a visit, in order to put this review together.

We will warn you – this post contains some of spoilers – mostly in the form of photos.

We’ve left plenty of surprises though, so think you’ll find this post informative without taking away the magic of your first-timer’s experience.

For those that want to go into the tour surprised, we can confirm that Wētā Workshop Unleashed is definitely worth a visit! It has something for everyone, and we would suggest, is an especially good fit for families looking to step into a world of fantasy.

A child exploring and dissecting the animatronic alien monster with its body emitting light at Weta Workshop Unleashed exhibit.

Now, we did warn you that this article would contain spoilers, right?

This is where they start…

Part film set. Part creative workshop. But all is not what it seems.

Wētā Workshop Unleashed Auckland

Wētā Workshop Unleashed: What to Expect

From the moment you line up outside Wētā Workshop Unleashed, it becomes evident that this tour is anything but your normal tour – would you expect anything else from Wētā?

After being snuck into the back entrance, your trusty guide will help you find your way through the ideas vault and into the reception. There you will be greeted by none other than Jeff, the somewhat-questionable health and safety officer.

With a bunch of perfectly punny jokes, Jeff will welcome you into the studio. Thankfully he’s helped by Richard Taylor, one of the founders of the infamous Wētā Workshop – as awesome as Jeff was, I’m not sure I’d trust him to run the operation!

Then it’s time to head on to the first of three movie production zones…

Go Behind the Scenes of Three Different Movies Currently in Production

This guided tour takes guests behind the scenes of three different movie productions.

Each of these are fictitious and made for the tour, but they do a great job of showing off the skills of their artists.

Experience a world where the lines between fantasy and reality are blurred.

Wētā Workshop Unleashed Auckland

Fauna

Now it’s time for the real fun to begin!

You’ll make your way through an intriguing hall before reaching the first of three ‘active’ zones – the twisted, sci-fi monster world from the movie Fauna.

Though each of the production zones are impressive, the Fauna creations were definitely my favourite to explore.

With plenty of (fake) blood and guts and incredibly realistic monsters (complete with animatronics and virtual reality), it’s a fun stop on the tour.

Each of the displays are made to be poked, prodded and interacted with so we’d encourage you to really get involved!

Don’t worry though, even this exhibit is family-friendly; there were small children in the group and nobody seemed too afraid of the creatures.

Wētā being Wētā, we couldn’t just walk out of Fauna without a good scare!

Upon leaving the exhibit, you’ll be led through a mini dark-maze. We won’t ruin the surprise for you, but will warn you that there will be plenty of screams and giggles.

For those that aren’t feeling quite so brave, there is a family-friendly alternative around the side too.

Age of the Ever-Clan

After screaming ‘goodbye’ to Fauna, you’ll step into the magical world of Age of the Ever-Clan.

This beautiful fantasy world is filled with countless little creatures – each with the incredible detail that you’d expect from Wētā Workshop.

Step from the design room through the door and you’ll suddenly see life from a different perspective – you’ll understand what we mean when you head through Wētā Workshop Unleashed yourself.

With an ever-changing dawn sky, the expansive models are brought to life in front of you.

The little details that we’ve already spoken about continue to shine as you make your way through the exhibit.

If you’re keen, you can even get down on your hands and knees and explore a cave system!

Honestly, even though they’ll talk you through the process, it’s hard to get your head around the fact that absolutely everything you’ll see there is man-made!

As with each of the different production zones, you’ll be given ample time to explore.

With interactive workshops (like leather crafting and character sculpting) and informative displays, explaining how the Wētā team works their magic, you’ll find plenty of things to hold your attention before moving onto the next part of your guided tour.

Origins

The third and final zone is totally unique from the others.

Based again in science fiction, your tour group will step onto the site of a crash-landed alien spaceship.

First you’ll explore the backstory through a range of exhibits (as, by now, you’ll have done in each of the other zones), learning about the process that goes into preparing and creating all this movie magic.

Then, in what is a beautiful sound and light show, you’ll watch the cybertronic alien and spaceship come to life

The show itself is impressive (as you’d expect) – it’s almost hard to believe you’re not at a live gig!

Visitors watch and take pictures close to the spaceship that is displaying lights showing intricate designs in front of them.

Weta Cave Retail Store

The last stop on your tour will allow you to take a piece of movie magic home with you, should you so choose.

The Wētā Cave is the place to purchase movie memorabilia – from clothing to scale models and everything in between.

If you’re a Wētā fanboy (or fangirl), this is a must-see part of the tour!

Life-sized display of two green orcs with their incredible details of rough skin, jagged teeth, and fierce expressions on their faces.

Frequently Asked Questions About Wētā Workshop Unleashed

How long should I allow to complete my tour?

The tour itself takes just under an hour and a half.

It also fits nicely with the All Blacks Experience which is just downstairs.

When do tours run?

Tours generally leave every 20 minutes. The first leaves at 10.20 am and the last departs at 5.20 pm.

A swine blacksmith pumping air using a bellow to heat a metal sword by putting it in a forge.

Do I need to book in advance?

To ensure you secure the time you’d like, advance booking online is recommended. Doing so is quick and easy.

With that said, if you’d like to try your luck and just turn up, tickets are also issued in the Wētā Cave. We’d only suggest doing this if you have flexibility in your timetable though – and by doing this, you’ll miss out on your discount.

Is Wētā Workshop Unleashed suitable for children?

Yes, the exhibition is appropriate for children. There were a number of young children on our tour and they all took it in their stride. There really aren’t any jumpy parts, aside from the short maze-walk which is completely optional.

Just remember to remind little ones that the monsters aren’t real – especially as you move through the first zone.

Officially they’ve rated Wētā Workshop Unleashed PG – parental guidance recommended.

There will I find Wētā Workshop Unleashed?

88 Federal Street, Auckland CBD. Take the elevator up to level 5.

Where should I park?

Though it’s not cheap, the closest parking is at Sky City.

From there, you’ll just need to pop across the road to find Wētā Workshop.


Suitable for the whole family, Wētā Workshop Unleashed in Auckland is a fantastic way to spend a few hours.

It appeals to practically everyone – from little hands-on family members to movie buffs, and everyone in between.

Whilst exploring Central Auckland, we certainly recommend checking this new permanent exhibit out!


Thank you to Weta Workshop Unleashed for hosting us for the purpose of this review. All thoughts are our own.

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