Day 12 – Wellington

Our day started with a rather wet and windy walk to the local tourist information office (i-site) in the centre of Wellington. I think both of us were glad we arrived in Wellington yesterday, as the seas in Wellington harbour looked very choppy compared to yesterday. 

The visit to the i-site turned out to be very fortuitous. Since we were in Wellington for the weekend, I had booked the “There and back again” tour at the Weta Workshop. For the uninitiated, Weta are a design and effects company that have worked on all of the Middle Earth movies (Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit), as well as many, many other blockbuster (Avatar, The Adventures of Tintin, District 9, etc.) movies. In their short history (they were founded in 1987) they have worked on over 150 movie projects, earning them various awards on the way. 

Anyway, the very nice lady at the i-site suggested that I move our tour to today rather than tomorrow, as they were expecting a lot of tourists this weekend as it’s a public holiday here on Monday. Also, the weather wasn’t that great, and indoor activities were the order of the day. So, I jumped at the chance to go “There and back again” today! 

What follows can only be described as the biggest nerdgasm I have ever experienced! 

The tour was all I had hoped it would be, and a wee bit more. It started with a 25 min movie presentation about how Weta was founded by Richard & Tania Taylor, the services that the company provides to the New Zealand movie industry, and all of the great projects that they have worked on since they started. A great start to the tour.

Then we got a tour of the workshop itself. Since it is a workshop we weren’t allowed to take any photos due to copyright restrictions. However, the things we saw were very cool indeed. Lots of insight as to how the various departments within the Weta company work, and some excellent examples of the work they produce. Seeing some of the replica props up close and personal made me tremble with excitement! (I know, I need to get out more!).

The finale of the tour was a wander around the Weta Cave, which is essentially a mini exhibition of all of the props, busts, and weapons that they’ve made. Again, no photos, but another wonderful experience for a movie nerd such as myself. 

The picture is of me with one of the trolls from The Hobbit. I can’t tell if it was Tom, Bert or Bill, but it was a photo opportunity I couldn’t resist. You can’t really tell from the photograph just how stupidly excited I am, but inside I am grinning like the 10 year old “me” waiting in the queue to see Star Wars for the very first time. 

Overall, this was one of my personal highlights from out trip to New Zealand. As if you couldn’t tell!

After a brief lunch in one of Wellington’s many Hipster style cafes, we headed over to Te Papa, New Zealand’s museum of history and art. There was so much to do and see there, there was no way we could cover everything they had to offer in our afternoon visit. So, we decided to focus on The Gallipoli exhibit. 

The exhibit was a joint effort between the museum and the Weta Workshop. The Gallipoli campaign was fought by British, Russian, and colonial forces during World War I. The exhibit focuses on the plight of the ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) troops, and the horrors they endured fighting the Turkish forces on Gallipoli. 

The entire exhibit is very well done. It was very educational, and incredibly emotional. If you are anywhere near Wellington go see this. It will open your eyes to the many horrors faced during war, and show you the heroes who were just looking out for their mates in the trenches. 

So, Wellington Day 1 is over. Weather permitting, we’ll be doing some outdoor stuff tomorrow. Oh, and perhaps watching a rugby game on TV too.

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