A generation that never experienced the great wars will now be able to take in the sights, sounds, and even smells, of trench warfare.

Created by Sir Peter Jackson for the Pukeahu National War Memorial in Wellington, the Quinn's Post Trench Experience is a painstaking recreation of what Anzac soldiers experienced while trying to hold the Gallipoli Peninsula.

That means when you first walk in, you smell thyme, a herb that blanketed the hills.

But once you're deeper in the trenches, the smell changes to cadavers.

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The latest technology is used to take visitors into the past and guide them through the history with walking, talking ghosts of New Zealand soldiers.

Over 350 intricately timed DMX lighting, audio, and video circuits are controlled over a dedicated network. More than 50 speakers and 38 amplifiers amplify the explosions until you can feel them.

Great War Exhibition general manager Dave Clearwater said the exhibit took more than a year to build.

"The use of modern technology to convey what it would have been like, the effects of the smell, the use of confined spaces, and the incoming rounds from the Turks.

"You are completely immersed in what our guys would have gone through.

Actors Mark Hadlow (left) and Jed Brophy viewing the Quinn's Post Trench Experience, in which they both feature, in the The Great War Exhibition at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park in Wellington. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Actors Mark Hadlow (left) and Jed Brophy viewing the Quinn's Post Trench Experience, in which they both feature, in the The Great War Exhibition at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park in Wellington. Photo / Mark Mitchell

"My favourite bit is probably sitting in a little cavern, where the wrinkly old weathered sergeant is sitting on the explosives, and explaining just what our tunnellers did."

Actor Jed Brophy brought one of the soldiers to life for the ghostly imagery.

He said all of the actors had been talking behind the scenes about what a privilege it was, trying to do the project justice.

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"We see war in films, and it's quite glamorised. This is purely honest, an honest look at what it would have been like," Brophy said.

"I was lucky enough to be on set with both of my sons, they were 19 and 23 at the time.

"Looking around the young faces, as a parent, thinking about sending a son of mine off to a war like that. There was a moment when I had to stop myself tearing up."

To create the "ghosts", Sir Peter's team combined Victorian trickery with new technology.

Victorian magicians created ghostly figures with the "Pepper's Ghosts" trick, projecting reflected images on to glass.

Today's Gallipoli ghosts use that idea but with the latest in technology, to recreate trenches teeming with soldiers in the midst of their work.

Chair of the National Military Heritage Charitable Trust Fran Wilde said the new exhibition would not only increase the understanding of the overall Gallipoli campaign, but also the hardships Anzac troops were exposed to.

The exhibition is in the Dominion Museum building at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park.

It opens to the public this Saturday, April 14.

NZME is an official media partner of this year's Pin A Poppy campaign. Visit http://www.pinapoppy.co.nz/ to donate – including the option to get a $3 virtual poppy via text