Wellington, where wind blows and streets winding, has its charms of a bustling city without the chaos. We arrived at the ferry from Picton/Nelson visit (see blog) and took a shared shuttle, Super Shuttle, to our accommodation for the next 4 days. We didn’t know our Airbnb host, Hilary, was away on an emergency and we were surprised when no one answered to the doorbell or the phone when we tried to call her. We were in a dilemma as it was 11pm and in a residential area with no nearby hotel or motel. We tried to use data roaming and access Airbnb, hoping to see if she left a message. Good thing she called back and gave the instructions to the key safe. It turns out she sent me a message the day before but since I didn’t have internet access, I couldn’t see it in time. All is well since this emergency gave us the home all to ourselves with permission to help ourselves to the food in the fridge. I discovered my love for lemon curd after trying out her spreads during breakfast. The bathroom was chilly, as I discovered is a common theme in New Zealand. The double bed was soft but it would only fit 2 skinny people so it was not as restful as I had imagine. We paid total of 343 SGD.
The 1st stop was Weta Cave , the company who made the special effects, props and prosthetics of LOTR and other movies like Avatar, King Kong, Mad Max, etc. It was really a treat for me to see how they make their props from, say, resin into a realistic gun or armor. Unfortunately, we couldn’t take pictures in the workshop. We saw some artist at work while we did a tour. It takes many hours, months even, to build a prototype and then the finished form. I salute these guys for their patience and dedication. We then went splurging on the LOTR souvenirs (lol)
Next one on the list was Te Papa Museum for the New Zealand history and general information. We were in luck because Weta Cave was showcasing their work on the Gallipoli War with huge, lifelike, important military personnel. They were 8 feet high with realistic skin pores, sweat and body hair. It was an educational experience and it was free entrance! If you like the exhibit, you can donate any amount to help the upkeep of this museum.
We also decided to try the Cable Car and Carter Observatory. My advice, do this when you have kids. The Observatory had the usual astronomy exhibit with kids to interact. There were time slots to use the telescope but it was not operational that time. We paid 12 NZD so it was not expensive. The cable car was ok, a moving tram moving up and down the hill. We paid 7.50 NZD per person for a round trip.
The last one was a 2 hour drive to Putangirua Pinnacles, where the LOTR path of the dead scene were shot. They are rock formations created by years of erosion. It felt like a desolated area, perfect for the movie. We even found large dead branches as our staffs to mimic the Hobbit adventure march. A lady hiker told us to head to a lighthouse, not too far, for another nice scenery. It was in Cape Palliser and good thing we had a GPS to route us to the right way. It was probably an hour walk. We saw more seals and a creepy doll peaking at a window. It looked like a child…I still shudder just remembering it. You can climb the endless stairways (253 steps to be exact) leading to the lighthouse. Francis made it to the top while I admitted defeat, waiting for him at the bottom, gazing at the sea.