If you or someone special is soon to celebrate a birthday, make it a magical one with a movie-themed day out! Upsize your celebrations from the plain-old drinks at the pub – we’ve put together the ultimate birthday guide for film buffs, movie nerds, The Lord of the Rings fans, or just those keen to add a splash of creativity to their celebrations. Fill your day with immersive film-making experiences, top spots to catch a blockbuster flick, and plenty of time for feasting – here are our top tips on creating a memorable birthday in Wellington or Auckland.
Whether starting the day bright and early, or enjoying a sleep in and tucking straight into ‘elevenses’ – kickstart your birthday with a delicious brunch. In Wellington, make your way to Chocolate Fish Café for a menu full of Kiwiana-inspired favourites. It’s this seaside stunner where the cast and crew of The Lord of the Rings trilogy would frequently visit between filming – Orlando Bloom (a.k.a. Legolas) was well-known for sneaking offset to enjoy the café’s picturesque views.
A birthday isn’t complete without cake – so pop into Zany Zeus in Moera for a slice of mouth-watering chocolately goodness – famously coined as “the best piece of chocolate cake I've had in my entire life” by Scarlett Johannsen when she was in the capital to film The Ghost in the Shell.
If you’re in Auckland, head to The Fed, right across the street from the SkyTower and SkyCity. Their brunch menu is full of delicious classic American and Montreal deli-style dishes. And as the beloved Hobbit, Pippin, says, "what about second breakfast?" – there are plenty more eateries to tempt your tastebuds along Federal Street.
A movie-themed birthday wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Wētā Workshop. Embark on a journey of discovery of the Wellington or Auckland workshops, for an immersive insight into our world-class filmmaking. Let your curiosity run wild and get up-close and personal with props, costumes, miniature models and plenty more cool stuff in a fascinating film effects facility. Play with replica weaponry, peek at the storyboards, and snap a birthday selfie with a giant troll!
Crafting with our crew on a hands-on workshop is sure to be the icing on the cake, and a chance to unleash your inner creativity. Get a group together for a morning spent sculpting characters, crafting with chainmaille or creating convincing fake blood and wounds. Plus, you’ll have a one-of-a-kind keepsake to take home with you and remember your birthday.
The ultimate birthday present is waiting at the Wētā Cave – head in-store to Wellington or Auckland to browse the extensive range of figures, collectibles, prop replicas and artworks from your favourite films and franchises. Designed in-house by the same artists as those who work on the movies, it’s an authentic gift that you (or your movie-obsessed friend) will treasure. If you’re based elsewhere in New Zealand or the world, jump online and get the perfect present shipped to your door.
Spend some time in nature and follow in the footsteps of your favourite actors, with a visit to some well-known and more off-the-beaten-track filming locations.
In Wellington, revisit some iconic moments from The Lord of the Rings, The Ghost in the Shell, King Kong and more along the city’s waterfront, in the Town Belt and up Mt Victoria – in one of the movie capital’s many film sites. Or if you’re in Auckland, the landscapes from The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, The Piano, and Hunt for the Wilderpeople can be found in a diverse range of locations from vibrant city centre parks through to windswept West Coast beaches.
Get your friends and family together for a birthday banquet to round off the evening. Treat yourself in Wellington’s hub of entertainment, Courtenay Place, which offers a wealth of dining experiences, from casual to classy and everything in between. Then head to the Embassy Theatre to catch a film – in 2003 this picture palace held the world premiere of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, and in 2012 it rolled out the red carpet once more for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. On your way to the cinema, pop past The Tripod sculpture, created in 2005 by Wētā Workshop using quirky recycled vintage materials to pay homage to the movie capital’s thriving film industry.
Or head to the Roxy, a charming boutique cinema in the heart of Wellywood, where art deco décor meets futuristic sci-fi vibes. Wine and dine at CoCo at the Roxy beforehand – and if you time it right, you might be able to enjoy their iconic ‘Eat the Film’ experiences, a unique fusion of culinary and cinematic delights where gourmet themed dishes are served to your seat, perfectly timed to specific scenes of a movie.
In Auckland, head to Academy Cinema, The Vic in Devonport or The Lido in Epsom for a cinema experience that oozes nostalgia and charm. These cinemas specialise in independent films – where art-house aficionados and curious movie buffs can cherish the glory days of theatre and film.
Whether you’re planning your own epic day, or you’re about to surprise a lucky friend or family member with an ‘unexpected party’, this special occasion deserves an equally special celebration. We look forward to celebrating with you soon; and from all of us at Wētā Workshop, happy birthday!