RTW: Days 39-41
After two days of airports and flying, we arrived in Wellington, New Zealand from Vietnam. We were so thrilled to be back in New Zealand, which Josh and I have determined is our favorite foreign country. On our previous New Zealand trip we had traveled in the South Island. This time we wanted to do a visit to the North Island. We flew to Wellington, rented a car and drove our way back up to Auckland.
We spend the first two full days of our stop in Wellington and the surrounding area. Our goal was to visit all the Lord of the Rings movie sites that we could on the North Island. We had a guide book and some GPS coordinates, and it was a very fun treasure hunt. To start off our adventuring, we visited the WETA Cave. It is basically a cool gift shop for WETA, the special effects company that created the monsters, weapons, and armor for the LOTR movies. We watched a video on the company’s history, and I am so impressed that they pulled off the LOTR movies. They had very little experience before then, and the scale and grandeur of the trilogy is overwhelming the think about. They did a fantastic job on what they did though. In the shop were a lot of models and miniature collectables. It was fun to look at all of them. I liked the model they had on display for Smaug. It’ll be great when The Hobbit is ready.
After the WETA Cave, we went up to Mount Victoria and hiked in the woods. We think we discovered the spot where Frodo shouted “Get off the Road” in the Shire, and we might have stumbled on the location where they hid beneath the roots, but that was a little more sketchy. It is a beautiful area, and I’m sure that we would hike there regularly if we lived in Wellington. On a side note, Wellington is an artsy, laid-back, filled-with-trees-and-neat-places city. We really loved it, and I think it must be a wonderful place to live.
We stopped for lunch at Sweet Mother’s Kitchen, then caught Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon, in The Embassy Theatre across the street. It was a very classy movie theatre (I think sometimes it’s a theatre, as well). It was where The Lord of the Rings premiered in New Zealand. They served popcorn, ice-cream, beer, wine, and more at the concessions stand. When it was over we had dinner at an Irish Pub.
We ventured further afield the next day, finding Rivendell, Isengard, and the River Anduin. Rivendell is located in Kaitoke Regional Park. It was very hard to picture, but the park is beautiful and the trees and tall and still green even though it was winter there (did I mention how wonderful New Zealand is?). We did see an elf though! One of the guided LOTR tours stopped in Rivendell at the same time we did, so we saw them posing for pictures in costumes.
Isengard, also known as Harcourt Park is a fine neighborhood park that reminded me of the style of parks in Tulsa. There was a playground, a disc-golf course, green grass, and many trees. We tried to find the location that we could see in the movie, when Gandalf and Sauruman are walking in the garden. After looking around at different places, we’re pretty sure that we found the spot. The road into Isengard was much easier to imagine. I will say though that they liked to put huge mountains in the backgrounds of their shots, but those mountains are not seen above the trees of the park.
The River Anduin was filmed at a lot of different rivers in New Zealand, but one of the locations where they launched boats from was nearby in Upper Hutt, and we stopped to see it before heading back to Wellington and visiting the Te Papa Museum for about an hour. We were worn out after that, found some dinner and watched another movie: The Green Hornet.