Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Wellington! December 9-13, 2014

And now we come to it. Four days of total immersion into the LOTR and Hobbit films. After a long Tuesday of travel that included stopping at Gollum's pool, we arrived in Wellington and checked into the Amora Hotel, near the waterfront. I'm putting all of this part of the trip in one post, so go get a cup of cocoa and put your feet up while you soak it all in. . 

This location was used to film scenes with
Gollum fishing. 

It was a lovely location no matter what. Every
one of these places we've visited could be a day's
destination on its own. 

So I'll remember this location in case I get to go back. 

This is Mt. Ruapehu, sporting a lenticular cloud. 
Wellington immediately reminded me of a mix of Seattle, Vancouver BC, Portland and Provo. It's artsy and urban; crowded yet somehow relaxed. The city is built on harbors and hills, with roads that run right next to water then up over mountains. The weather is changeable, so a lot of the sidewalks downtown are covered. That didn't keep us from getting soaked on our one free day there, however. It's also windy and chilly in this almost-summer of the southern hemisphere. No matter though. We had tons of fun exploring this new city. 
The weather is changeable and windy in Wellington. I had a few Marilyn
Monroe moments in my skirt. 

Love the waterfront of Wellington. It's designed to inter-
connect and be very pleasant to walk along to see different
views and reach many different buildings. 
Wednesday was spent doing just that. We went to the national museum of New Zealand, called Te Papa. Free and open to the public, it is a glimpse into the whole of New Zealand, with sections on the land, history, peoples and culture of New Zealand. We found it to be an excellent learning experience for a newbie, on a level with the best of the Smithsonian facilities. It's in a beautiful building right on Wellington's waterfront. 
The beautiful space that houses Te Papa. 

Kiwis are EXTREMELY proud of PJ and the renown that
his films have brought to their country. And so Azog has a
place of honor in their national museum. 
After that, we shopped, lunched and then got ready for the party. And oh what a party.

We went to the NZ premiere of the 3rd and final Hobbit film. It was honestly so fun to be part of all the celebrations. We wore costumes (well I sort of wore a costume and Julia rocked a fantastic costume) and went to see the film at a theater called The Roxy, which is owned by Tonia Taylor, wife of Richard Taylor, founder and head of Weta Workshops.  It was movie mania, people! Trivia, personalities, behind the scenes stuff--it was all there. The theater also has party and eating spaces, so there was amazing food, decor and a wonderfully magical atmosphere. We stayed up into the wee hours to see the first midnight showing in New Zealand, and again, it was a case of go big or go home. The costumes were amazing. The enthusiasm was palpable. The camaraderie was outstanding.
It was just a great night.
Julia went all out for her Hobbit persona, Elanor. I found a dress that looked
faintly Elvish and put a scarf on my head. Regardless of my lack of effort, I
looked good in Julia's reflected glory and had a great time. 

These two Danish guys work for Lego and designed the LOTR and Hobbit
Lego sets. That's serious celebrity for a longtime Lego mom like me. If you
look closely, you'll see they win the Coolest Thing Ever prize with their
Lego BOW TIES!!!

The real Richard Taylor and his wife, came to welcome us to Wellington. He is
the star of many special features which I have spent many hours watching. 

A view of some of our group in their costumes before the party. Impressive.
Most impressive. 

You know, just a regular night at the movies in NZ with Gandalf, Aragorn
and a Warg.
It might seem impossible that there could be MORE from this week in Wellington, yet there was. Thursday we got to sleep in after the late night movie the night before. Julia and I got up anyway and went on a treasure hunt throughout Wellington looking for a special display of actual costumes from the Hobbit films. It was great to have to wander through more of Wellington as well as really cool to see the costumes worn by the actors and actresses, up close. We had a great time. It took us until Friday afternoon to find them all, but it was a highlight of the week for us. It got us out and walking, enjoying the city atmosphere, and I loved that. 
Thorin's costume. Complete with Richard Armitage's
 sweat, which is just a little thrilling for this fan. This
one was at a hotel. 

A Hobbit costume worn by Martin Freeman. This was
in a local high-end department store. The detail is really
astonishing. These are works of art, with textiles, leather,
findings, buckles and trimmings custom-created. 
Also part of Welly Week, as it came to be known, were talks and presentations by artists who worked on the films, including the calligrapher, the sword maker, an art director, and an actor named Lawrence Makoare, who has played various characters in the films. We got to visit the Weta Experience, which is a museum set-up showing all the things Weta does for the film industry. Very interesting. We didn't meet any really BIG stars, but people were thrilled to meet Daniel Reeve, the calligrapher, who spent hours creating personalised art for people that went well beyond simple autographs, including signs, tatoos and paintings. I got to see actual swords used in film closeups and even hold them.
A hasty picture of Sting, with a glimpse of one of the other
hero swords, I believe Anduril, the one reforged from
the shards of Narsil. 

The overarching theme of this week for me was admiration for the detail and authenticity these artists created to make the world of Middle Earth come alive in film. I cannot admit to being a super-geek like some of my companions on this fellowship, but I do watch every minute of every behind-the-scenes thing I can find about movies I love and this whole week was like living inside some of those features. Every minute was inspiring, satisfying and curiosity-inducing. Many in the group have been inspired to seek more fully for their own personal and professional goals as a result of seeing PJ's totally passionate approach to making these films. I've loved those conversations with people I've met here. For some, this trip is not mere entertainment, but a true journey that will balance out to an investment in their futures. 

And so farewell to Wellington. Tomorrow we board a ferry and embark to explore the South Island. 

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating and fun! Thanks to you and Julia for taking us along.


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