Co-founded by Peter Jackson, Weta is the studio that handles computer graphics and props for movies like the Lord of the Rings, District 9, and Avatar; Weta Cave is the name of the division open to the public for tours. Three trolls guarded the entrance:
The studio has a gift shop and mini-museum, which have some really neat toys, but the best part is a 40 minute long guided tour of part of the actual studio, showing off awesome stuff made by the studio. Sadly, photographs were prohibited, but I saw:
– A fully functional Warthog (from the Halo franchise), built from scratch (except for the engine). Even having only played the first game, my inner geek was terribly excited.
– The alien guns from District 9, from concept and prototyping to final finished product. Even close up, that thing looks absurdly real.
– A modern forge, turning out real metal swords to be used as props in films. A katana manufactured by the forge served as the guide’s pointing stick :-)
– Original concept art for both past and potential future films. There was some really cool stream punk concept art – I hope it makes it into a film some day!
– A whole mess of chain mail, from the traditionally and painstakingly made to more modern plastic designs (that totally look real).
Other than the guided tour, there was a whole mess of replicas being shown in the gift shop & mini-museum: