Day 15 - Windy Wellington!

Overnight we cruised mostly east across the Cook Strait from Nelson on the north end of the South Island to the Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, which is located on the southern end of the North Island.  We had the morning free so Angela walked downtown to tour the Museum of New Zealand which was highly recommended by the cruise ship staff.  We rendezvoused later in the day to go on a tour of the famous Weta Cave Workshop that created most of the props and models for all the Lord of the Rings movies.  We then got to tour around some of the local parks where some of the movies were filmed.  We ended the day driving to the top of Mt. Victoria for a scenic overview of the city.

Cruising into Wellington harbour... View of Wellington from the wharf.

Wellington's version of the famous Hollywood sign.  Apparently Wellington can be windy... :) Poster explains that wind is funneled through and accelerates through the Cook Strait.  Equals lots of windy days and lots of strong winds.  Wind gusts in a 1968 storm reached 167 mph!

Bavarian Angela took this photo on her way down to the museum.  Seriously?

Entrance to the Museum of New Zealand Beautiful vase on exhibit.

Map showing the Polynesian settlement of the Pacific.  Unlike Australia, "native" population did not reach New Zealand until 1250-1300 CE.  First Europeans showed up in 1642 CE. How the Polynesians navigated.  No compasses, GPS, or iPhones.

How the Polynesians traveled across the Pacific - catamarans. Depiction of a Maori warrior.

On our way to the Weta Cave Workshop.  The workshop is located in Miramar, a suburb of Wellington. The Weta Cave motto?  The workshop creates, designs, and builds props, weapons, armor, animatronics, and models for movies and television.  We were met in the foyer by a Weta designer who gave us the tour.  We were allowed to take photos in the lobby/foyer but not in the actual exhibits (copyright issues - Weta is allowed to display movie items but they are technically owned by the studios)

Out in the lobby the had a wall showing some of the projects/movies they have worked on over the years.  Some relatively famous ("Contact" - 7.4 IMDB rating), some not so much (Tidal Wave: No Escape" - 4.0 IMDB rating).  I usually don't watch movies with less than a 7.0 rating... This one turned out pretty good...  

... as did this one... ...and this one.

District 9 was a big hit, so was the Indiana Jones movie.  Not sure about the third one... :) Weta worked on all the Hobbit prequels as well...

Orc model.  Tour guide explained they would talk to the writers and director about characters and then create several full-scale models from which they could choose.  Final model was given to the CGI guys to scan/use for their detailed digital models. Close up of the orc face, ugly!

Dwarf (?) statue. A display of prop weapons, per the tour guide they use a 3D printer for most of these.

Me and my bud Gandalf... The hat.

Didn't get the tshirt, but I did get a neat bag and hat. Tour continued in one of the local Wellington parks near Mt. Victoria.

Tour guide used story boards to show us where specific scenes from the various LOTR/Hobbit movies were actually filmed.   This hillside was the location of the scene in LOTR where the hobbits are traveling from Hobbiton to Rivendale when suddenly they have to hide from one of the Ring Wraiths!  Too cool!  On the plane trip back to the states I watched all the movies again!

Mostly city view from the top of Mt. Victoria View of Wellinton Harbour.

Panoramic photo of Wellington from Mt. Victoria.