Saturday, January 12, 2013

Day 7 - Wellington and Middle Earth

We were originally booked on a morning tour called "Wellington City Sites," but when we boarded the ship we discovered a new tour had been added called "In the Footsteps of the Lord of the Rings."  Of course, being a J.R.R. Tolkien fan,  I suggested we switch tours. The other was just a filler anyway, since we had gone on a great 4-wheel drive tour of the Seal Coast the last time we were here.  Of course Ray agreed, especially since we had a choice of morning or afternoon for the new tour. 
Lord of the Rings Filming Location

We slept in this morning, relaxing and reading this morning. At 2pm we went down to join the tour.  There was only 1 bus load of 30 people on this tour this afternoon.  We began by going up one of the many hills around Wellington and down a wooded path to the site where the first filming for The Lord of the Rings was done. The guides pointed out specific places along the path where certain scenes were filmed and explained how they disguised the filming by using trucks with false names so no one would know where they were filming. 

Monument Pointing to Antarctica
From there we drove to the top of the hill for a view of the city.  At this overlook, there is a monument which points to Antarctica and the Southern Lights.  In that direction there is nothing between Wellington and Antarctica. 
The tour then continued on to the Roxy Theater, built by Peter Jackson for the Wellington community, to see a short film explaining the Wellington film industry Jackson founded.  The films made here are mostly those requiring special effects, and the company called WETA now specializes in special effects.  In addition to The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, movies such as King Kong and Avatar were also made in Wellington.  
Hobbit Feet
The last stop of the tour was at the WETA Cave, where models are created of the various characters to be used in creating the special effects.  A small area of this building is open, displaying models from various completed films. It is also a small souvenir shop.  We saw both small and full size models from the Lord of the Rings, King Kong, and other projects. One of the things they are known for is making a lightweight chain mail that looks like the real thing but is much easier for the actors to wear.  The guide showed us samples of real chain mail and the lighter version to compare.

We rode along the shore on our way back to the ship.  The beach is beautiful and a number of people were out there enjoying the waves.  It has been a very windy day, but the bay we passed seemed protected.  Our guide said that Orca whales have been sighted in this bay recently.

The Lord of the Rings movies are being shown on-demand on the ship, no extra charge.  We are re-watching the first one tonight.

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