New Zealand North Island

Discovering the artistic side of New Zealand in Wellington

For Wellington, we had a single day and a very simple plan – boys wanted to visit the Weta Workshop Studios and girls chose Te Papa

We didn’t even stop at the hostel to check-in and went directly to Weta Workshop Studios to get there before closing. Weta Workshop is a company creating props, clothes, special effects and many other things for the movie industry. They are behind some of the huge productions like King Kong, Godzilla, Van Helsing, District 9, Avatar, and recently also Mad Max. But the thing that they are most famous for is creating the elaborate props for the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies.

The Weta Workshop offers a behind-the-scenes tour through the Weta Cave Workhop. We paid $24 and had to wait about 30 minutes for the tour to start. The time passed quickly as we roamed in the shop, admiring all the cool items on display. You can buy anything ranging from bookmarks, postcards and magnets, through posters, books and figures to jewellery, bows and swords. It was too much to resist! Martin bought a Hobbit-themed T-shirt and I bought a bookmark. I have already bought the Arwen Evenstart’s necklace in Hobbiton, so I couldn’t afford anything more. By now, you probably understand how huge LOTR fans we are :).

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The Weta Cave Workshop Tour was a lot of fun but rather short. It took about 45 minutes and we just walked through a single room. But even so, we really enjoyed it because the guide told us a lot of funny anecdotes and fascinating information about how they create the props. People in the Weta Cave are passionate about their work and it’s visible on each piece of prop that they produced. Well, who wouldn’t like to spend days playing and bringing ideas of writers and filmmakers to life?

The guide started the tour by describing how they make weapons, for example, the Hellboy’s gun. They try different models and materials until two main things are achieved – credible looks and functionality (in a sense that actors can easily work with the prop). I am not that much into guns, but when we moved to the next section where a tall sturdy guy behind a glass was forging a sword. He was as close to my idea of a swordsmith as it gets. With the sword in hand, he looked pretty dangerous. I was secretly happy that there’s a glass wall between us.

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The rest of our program for the day was to explore the coolest street in Wellington, as the web page wellingtonnz.com labels it (and describes as a place with culinary and creative soul). Cuba Street is one of the busiest streets in Wellington, with locals hurrying and disappearing inside shops, cafés and restaurants, and tourists slowly strolling around and taking pictures.

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The next morning we visited Te Papa, the New Zealand’s national museum and art gallery. It’s a collection of diverse aspects of the New Zealand’s culture, history, nature and art. You can find anything from a giant squid, through Maori boats, to an engine from the Air New Zealand aricraft. It’s a place with a lot to see, but not so much to talk about, so I’ll rather leave some space for pictures.

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And a few random pictures from Wellington:

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What is your favorite city with an artistic or cultural feeling? If you have been to Wellington, did you have the same impression?

Read more of my stories from New Zealand:

Hobbiton Movie Set: Excuse me, where do I find Bilbo Baggins?
Waitomo Caves: Underground adventures in Waitomo Glowworm Caves
Tongariro National Park: Hiking in Morder: Tongariro Alpine Crossing

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