When movies screens around the world faded to black on 'The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King', people of all ages sat in amazement at how stunning, how detailed and how truly original a trilogy it had been. Not only was there a gorgeous natural backdrop to this fantasy epic, but the armour, weapons and creatures all looked so real, you would think it was a historical picture, and not something entirely fictional.
Of course, when The Hobbit was released a number of years later, we all found ourselves back in this breathtaking place for another ride. But did you know it doesn't have to be over yet? Here is what you should know about one of New Zealand's favourite movie destinations.
Exploring Weta Workshop
Weta Workshop is the famous company that forged (sometimes literally) the visuals of J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle Earth. Despite having numerous successes prior to this project, you could easily argue that 'The Lord of the Rings' is what has truly defined Weta. Well, make sure you add Wellington to your NZ holiday itinerary because you can get a behind the scene's tour of this magical place.
The Standard Tour option lasts for 45 minutes and includes staff walking you through the artists' processes here, using props, weapons and models as examples. You'll also get to see some of them work on their next big project through a window into the workshop, and finally finish in Weta Cave, a veritable museum of movie history with its own shop.
-Price: Adults, $24. Children (6-12 years), $12.
In the NZ capital but without a vehicle? Weta's There and Back Again tour includes pickup from the tourism i-SITE and lasts for two and a half hours. It includes all of the above, plus a scenic tour of the Miramar Peninsula, where the company is located.
-Price: Adults, $65. Children (6-12 years), $40.
Finally, the Evening with Weta and CoCo option is the all-in-one experience. It doesn't just have an extended tour and the benefits of both packages above (including CBD pickup), it also brings you to CoCo at the Roxy for a three-course meal!
-Price: Adults, $145. Children (6-12 years), $75.
See more of Middle Earth, too
Catch a unique glimpse of Middle Earth's diverse natural world as well as your Weta trip by booking KiwiRail Scenic's Coastal Pacific or Northern Explorer journeys. Both of these feature their own unique sights, whether you're interested in the winding ocean vistas and Marlborough Sounds experience of the former, or the expansive plains, rolling farms and dramatic Mount Doom (Ngauruhoe) views of the latter.