Morning, River Anduin, and Driving
6:27 AM wake up! I went downstairs, and then outside since I saw nobody. But folks were out there, so we enjoyed the crisp morning mountain air 🙂 Then inside for breakfast time. Eggs, potatoes, tomatoes, sausages & nice, crispy bacon 😉 It was a hobbit meal indeed! After that, Kylie & I went back upstairs, and had one last look & farewell to our Samwise room!! ❤ Then off! Well, after a quick stop at the Big Carrot of Ohakune. 😄 Someone quoted “I think I’ve broken somethin’!” — perfect. 😄
After a bit we arrived at Gravity Canyon, which below lies the Rangitikei River. This is where they shot only a bit of scene for the River Anduin. The rest was in a river located on the South Island. Inside, Kylie was nice enough to buy me a hot chocolate 😉 We had to option of a bungee, giant swing, or flying fox over the canyon. Elvish & Abi took advantage of this opportunity and did the Flying Fox! We waited FOREVER for them to walk allll the way up the top, then finally, the tiny figures so far up came flying down! 😄 It was AWESOME! And that’s only from an observer’s view 😉
At last we went on; a long drive it was. By the way, it was kind of cold & grey today. Convenient we were stuck in the coach 😀 We watched FOTR disc 1, and LOTR National Geographic. At some point we stopped for a quick break at a meat pie shoppe, I’m not sure where. But the pie, baby Coke, and $3 éclair (not, like, $18! :P) were all delicious! After quickly downing our desserts, we continued on through Manawatu, Foxton, and Pukerua Bay — Peter Jackson’s hometown! On to Wellington. Next stop: WETA!
Arriving in Wellington; Entering WETA!
Upon arriving in Wellington, we passed a few spots worth mentioning, such as the Westpac Stadium (where thousands of Cricket fans were asked to chant & stomp to create sounds for the Uruk-hai army at Helm’s Deep), the Hollywood-style “Wellington” sign on the Miramar hillside, and a fountain in which Elijah Wood apparently peed in once. 😄 The whole city was lined with Hobbit flags! It was so cool! OooOoOoh! THEN, we arrived at Weta! On a plain street with plain houses n’ whatnot, BAM! There was the Weta Cave! Just as I’ve seen it pictured so many times. We’re actually heeeere!
As we entered, I was just enthralled with all the work & props & merchandise! Everyone kind of went off into their own little world, I think. I photographed everything, haha. Realistic Gollum, Gandalf, Lurtz statues, ALL the books & figurines, the wall of maps, jewelry, frames & pictures covering the ceiling, Bilbo’s contract, weapons, plus guns & things from District 9, King Kong, Avatar, and whatever else Weta’s worked on! Soon, it was time to watch the special 25 minute film on Weta. It was in this little room with chairs rowed off by 4, little fake fires in the corners, weaponry hanging on the walls, and a big screen up front. This video was amazing, seriously. All the effects, how they work, and how all the departments & artists & everything work together… I was in awesome-land watching this. 😄 It brought tears to my eyes! So incredible!
“Window into Workshop”
Next, Mike collected $20 from each of us and led us outside around the corner to “Window Into Workshop”, which officially opened just today! We’re so lucky with this stuff 😉 Photography was not allowed in here, so I will have to describe as best I can. We were led on a casual tour by a man named, I believe, Mark. It was magnificent. There were props & weapons covering the walls, little photos/videos everywhere demonstrating work, and even the molds of Elijah Wood’s, Ian Holm’s, Billy Boyd’s, and Bernard Hill’s heads! They were so real, I could just SEE their closed eyes opening. Some other specific props seen were: Sting, Gimli’s axe, Sauron’s flail, a life-size golden Thorin, and a miniature Prince Caspian (Narnia) castle. Ahh… Arwen & I were just dying to take photos! 😄 We also got to watch one of the sculptors, Steven Saunders, working on a Radagast figurine that wouldn’t be released for weeks yet! He invited us up to look at his other just-finished sculptures, and talk with him & ask questions. He explained to us what his job was like. Go to work, sculpt, go home across the street, repeat. 😄 Then we all thanked him, and ended our tour. We had 15-20 more minutes, so shopped for another 30. 😄 I bought a Hobbit World Premiere t-shirt, a postcard, and one of the free cardboard Gandalf hats they were handing out. And Arwen bought Nenya!
Outside, before leaving, we made a little video saying “Hello Middle-earth Network from the Weta Cave!! WHOOO!!!”
En route to our hotel, we saw the giant Gandalf-knocking-on-Bag-End fixture above the Embassy Theater, and Mike showed us the entrance to Stone Street Studios & explained the K, F, and G buildings. I remember that “K” stood for “Kong,” (where much of King Kong was shot) and that The Dead Marshes was set in one of those buildings. 😄
Dinner & Street Ventures
Finally, we arrived at the Grand Chancellor Hotel, and we are here the next 3 nights! The lobby had it’s very own red carpet, and Dwarf flags lining the ceiling 🙂 We unloaded all our things, then ventured the streets of Wellington on a search for dinner! Most of our group ate at a bar, but they didn’t have pasta, and Elvish & I were on a mission for pasta… SO, we ventured off ourselves! An elf & a hobbit. FOR PASTA! Haha. We wandered quite a ways, nearly getting lost, “we’re going in circles!” but we’re quite the adventurers, and we made our way. We looked for the Green Parrot, one of Viggo’s (Aragorn) favorite places, but didn’t find it today. EVERYWHERE was closed! WHY?! 😄 Eventually we found the Featherston Bar & Grill, with a pasta dish at a decent price for us to split 😀 We ordered, and talked about everything. Like, euphemisms 😄 Then, the food came. derp. Tomato sauce, which she dislikes 😦 So she just ate salads. But then we got a Cinnamon Brûlée for dessert! Yuumm, it was delectable!
Then we continued wandering the city all night, on the hunt for a drugstore. 😄 We saw lots more Hobbit stuff, it was awesome, just all over the city in random store/business windows, there would be window-drawings or merch 😉 Once we found a store, I spent forever picking out what NZ chocolates to buy! 😛 Oh, and we got mistaken for natives! ;D Then we returned to our hotel, hung out in the lobby with some folks for a bit, then rested because tomorrow is another big day 😀