Sir Peter Jackson dishes on new Gallipoli trench exhibit

A new multi-million dollar trench exhibition recreates the sights, sounds and smells experienced by soldiers at Quinn's Post on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915.

It's so confronting that Wellington's Great War Museum warns that the exhibit isn't suitable for everyone.

Sir Peter Jackson said he wanted to find a piece of trench that was connected to New Zealand. 

"It's a 20-minute experience designed to take you as far out of today's world as you possibly can, and put you back into something approximating what it was like back then," he said.

"Quinn's Post has got everything Gallipoli had - it's got snipers, it's got tunnels, it had the Turks close by, it's on a steep hill - so it sums up the entire campaign."

"It's a place where New Zealanders shone," he said.

The exhibit even faithfully recreates how the trench would have smelled.

"There are actually companies in the world that you can get smells from. In the catalogue they have mouldy socks, bacon smells - all sorts," Sir Peter said.

"We wanted to have something that fills your senses. So it's sight, sound and smells, because Gallipoli was a very smelly place.

"They say that when the Navy ships used to sail towards Anzac Cove they could smell it from a few miles away. There were decomposing bodies there, the whole place stunk really bad," he said.

Sir Peter says the exhibition gives New Zealanders a chance to learn what their countrymen did a century ago.

"The trenches at Quinn's Post aren't like in a film - they're very, very tight," he said.

Actors Mark Hadlow and Jed Brophy, who both starred in The Hobbit, feature in the exhibit as ghostly images of real-life soldiers, created using the 'Pepper's Ghost' Victorian theatrical technique.

Soldiers spent nine months at Quinn's Post, as holding on to it was crucial to the Anzac campaign. Its commander was Lieutenant Colonel William Malone of the Wellington Battalion - a man who remained calm under fire.

As many as 350 soldiers packed into the cramped space.

Sir Peter's fascination with World War I and Gallipoli comes from the fact his grandfather, who he never met, fought there.  He died in 1940 and Sir Peter used to hear stories about him from his father.

Sir Peter's travelled to the battlefield seven or eight times.

"It's an incredibly peaceful, tranquil place. It was a Kiwi outpost under extreme conditions," he said.

"There are a lot of kiwis still there under the ground, so it's nice to go and say hi to them."

The exhibit sits on rubber seals to contain the sounds of battle. Sir Peter wouldn't say how much it all cost, but it's unlikely to have been cheap.

The exhibition at the Great War Museum opens to the public on Saturday. Entry for adults is $20.