On Day 8 we were joined by Red Carpet Tour’s Wellington guide, Deanna. Both Deanna and Julie took care of us today and the first thing we did was head out to Stone Street Studios where the movies were filmed. There wasn’t much to see since we couldn’t actually get into the Studios. But we did climb the fence to take a peek. In the distance we could see the outdoor green screen where they filmed several of the scenes of the movies. It was a quick stop and then we were headed off to WETA Cave to participate in the WETA Workshops tour and then to watch the Behind the Scenes DVD promo. During the tour of the workshop, we got to see how they designed things such as weapons for District 9 and the process that they go through before finally getting to the completed stage. We saw props that were made but were never used for the films but they were built so that directors and producers could see what the finished product would be and if they liked it, approved it, if not, then it was a start over. It was amazing to see all the weapons that were created for all the different movies that WETA was involved in: The Narnia movies, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies, Avatar, District 9, and television shows as well. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take any photos whatsoever. We also got to see and in some cases touch the products that WETA came up with such as chain mail. We were able to touch and feel how heavy real chain mail was and then the evolution of chain mail through the years of movie making. Then we moved on to prosthetics. The feel of the material that they use to make fake noses, thicker hands and arms for dwarves…it was weird to feel it. Creepy, in a way. WETA has their own sword maker. He makes the swords in the traditional method with an anvil. Sadly it was still Christmas holidays for these people so it was a fairly empty workshop, except for one sculptor. We got to see what he was making from when he comes up the idea and then makes it out of clay and then turns it into a full size sculpture. It was pretty neat. The tour took about 45 minutes. It was quite impressive. Richard Taylor, the co-founder of WETA did an amazing job. After the tour, it was time for us to check out WETA’s promo DVD. Again, no filming or photos allowed. It was a very well done DVD. Then it was time to spend some money. There were so many goodies to choose from. So many things I wanted and knew I could never justify buying and there was always the problem with carrying the goods home with me. (Biggest Sigh Ever) I really would’ve like to bring home a Thorin statue but he wasn’t within my budget or in my luggage weight class. Oh well. At least in the WETA Caves, we were allowed to take photos. So I went crazy with the photos.
After getting our fill of Hobbit and LOTR goodies, we were off to the Roxy Theatre, co-owned by Richard Taylor. This is a beautifully refurbished theatre and Red Carpet Tours had their own Premier party held at the Roxy for the Premier of Desolation of Smaug. I saw the pictures and really wished I could’ve been there. However my costume making skills are dismal so I would’ve stuck out like a sore thumb. But it sure looked fun and it helped that six of the actors who played the dwarves were also at the party. Well, at the theatre today, there was no premier party nor were there any actors, but we did have second breakfast before heading off out our next stop.
Mt. Victoria was the location for several important scenes in The Fellowship of the Rings. Mushrooms, Get off the Road and one of the extended scenes where Frodo and Sam are smoking a pipe and Frodo is sitting in a tree was filmed here. From just the short walk that we did, I’m glad I’ll be returning to Wellington later on in February. This would been a great place to go for a walk. The paths were easy to follow, but keep in mind that it is also used by mountain bikers and on this day, we had to get off the road several times. So once again, we got into our roles and took our shots and then Craig took us to the top of Mt. Victoria where we could take some impressive photos from the top.
Then we were off again. Our fellowship split up this time. Some of us were off to see Desolation of Smaug at the Embassy Theatre and some decided to pass since they had already seen it. I was the only one in the entire fellowship that had not seen the movie yet. And while I was there, I splurged on a bottle of L&P. Let me just say this about the movie: Oh My God! That was great! I have always believed that movies based on books should follow books. And I still believe it, but I think in Peter Jackson’s case, he has done a fantastic job with his creative licensing. I won’t say anything else about this movie except that once is not enough. I will definitely try to see it again before I leave New Zealand. And if it’s still playing in Vancouver, I may have to see it a third time. Anyway after the movie, we all met up at Strawberry Fare, an eatery that was popular with past Fellowships. The desserts were fantastic. I had one called Devil’s Dream Cake. There was dark chocolate, white chocolate, raspberries and more chocolate, drizzled with raspberry sauce and mango and passion fruit sauce. It was so delicious and sadly I had to stop after eating half of it. It was so rich. And I was actually beginning to get a sugar headache, if that’s even possible. Oh so delicious!
Thus concludes our fun on the North Island. Now we head off to the South Island for Day 9.
We got to sleep in today on Day 9. But really, how does one sleep in, when they have to pack for a flight! Arghhh. I had to pay for an extra bag. And I’m only on Day 9. This’ll teach me to buy books. We headed out at 930am for the Wellington Airport. And again, I have to say: Oh My God! What an airport! I wish our airport had eye candy like this. I’d be so happy to work there if I had these things hanging over my head day in and day out! The flight time was only 25 minutes. Barely even noticeable. Just one bump. And I didn’t have a seat mate so it was great. But what made it even better was the view. I don’t normally like to look out the window when I’m in the plane. But this time, I couldn’t look away. It was so beautiful. And if you look down in the middle, you’ll see the Inter Islander Ferry navigating the islands!
When we found our bus, we had our first bit of disappointment. Even though it was absolutely beautiful in Nelson, it was very windy up in the mountains so our helicopter ride had to be postponed. We would try again tomorrow. I hope the weather turns out good. I really want to fly in the helicopter. So instead we had a nice leisurely lunch and then went to check into our hotel. The Trailways Hotel in Nelson is very nice. It is located right by the river in the centre of town. And it has unlimited free wi-fi. Ah Bliss! Anyway after checking in, I was off to find…The Centre of New Zealand. That’s right! The Centre of New Zealand is in Nelson. And it was up a hill. A fairly steep hill. But it was good exercise. And the view from the top was amazing. After spending about 10 minutes up there I started my way back down. And then decided to hike some of the other trails in the vicinity. I made an effort to go to some Japanese gardens which was 45 minutes one way but as I headed out, the wind picked up and actually blew my hat off. So I decided to head back. Then I decided to head down to Maitai valley. That wasn’t too bad. Since it was a valley, and I had started up on top the the hill, it was all down hill. But then as I continued down the steep hills, I began to think about how difficult it would be to traipse back up those hills. Luckily for me, by the time I got to the bottom, there was another way to get back to where I had started. So, I saw the Centre of New Zealand. Now I was off to find the Cathedral. It wasn’t that far off. But along the way I found the Queen’s Garden with a really pretty gate. So I veered off and went for a little stroll through the Queen’s Garden. There were several pretty bridges and a fountain as well as a small Chinese garden. After my detour, I finally made it to the Cathedral. It was quarter to 5 and the bells were ringing. I stood there for 5 minutes listening to the bells ring and I was wondering why it was ringing at such an odd time and why it was ringing for so long and then as I walked around to the other side of the cathedral, I saw the sign indicating there was a service at 5pm, which would probably explain why the bells were ringing for so long. I didn’t go in. I really didn’t want to spend my evening at a church service. I’m sure it would’ve been beautiful inside, but it would’ve been rude to go in and start taking pictures while someone was speaking.
So off I went again, this time, down the street looking for a place to eat. There wasn’t a lot of choices. Most of the shops and eateries were closed. It was a Sunday. And as I neared the hotel, I saw a Burger King. I walked in and then walked back out. I couldn’t do it. I then headed to the closest grocery store, Countdown and wandered the aisles. I walked out with two bottles of water and juice. I guess I would be eating at the hotel restaurant. I ended up having Nelson Scallops and a salad. Very tasty. Sorry no picture. And just before I finish this post, take a look at my view from my room. Isn’t it lovely?
Wish you could all be here, Aunty