Many thanks to Kelly & Daniel for looking after me in Wellington. I have seen lots of things. I have been to the Weta Cave; I have been to the Cake Tin (Go ‘Canes!); I have been to Rivendell; and I have been to Te Papa where I have see the Colossal Squid. Surprisingly, despite all of the dire warnings I received from various people in Auckland, I did not freeze to death. The weather was actually rather good. I gather that I may have been lucky to see three consecutive days with no wind, but I did none the less.
Some compare and contrast is doubtless in order. Auckland is a large (huge by NZ standards) city that you probably need a car to get around. Wellington, in contrast, is small and compact and walkable. I did a lot of walking. You need a car (or bus) to get out to Miramar, where there Weta offices are, but there is a whole lot you can do around the city and, being the national capital, Wellington boasts some fabulous museums.
Both cities have absolutely amazing natural scenery within an easy drive of the town center. I have lots of photos and video that I shall get on with processing as soon as I can. New Zealand is an extraordinarily beautiful place. I wish I’d had more time for just touring around (or indeed for just sitting on beaches watching the waves).
While there are a lot of Middle Earth sites that you can visit, most of them have been cleaned up, and a huge amount of the film scenery was CGI anyway, so there isn’t necessarily a lot to see. There are no elf houses at Rivendell, and no elves either, or at least if there were they were being very secretive. Also no one makes a great fuss of the sites. It wasn’t until we were inside the appropriate national park that we saw small signs saying “Rivendell”. You had to know where to go in order to get there.
The national museum, Te Papa, is a fabulous building and has all sorts of wonderful things ranging from moa bones (that was one big bird) to Maori cultural artifacts. The Colossal Squid is a bit sad these days, but the museum is very proud of it and as a result I now have my very own pet squid.
One thing you can’t do is tour Weta’s studios. There is way too much sensitive work going on in them, and they can’t have people traipsing around peering at things that Hollywood doesn’t want peered at. However, there are a few things that they do want us to see. Here’s a trailer that Norm showed at the convention. Look out for the marvelous steampunk spaceship.