Chapter 5: ‘…we’re off to see the Wizard!…’

Our plane is delayed. I mean, it’s understandable, there’s been an earthquake, but I really haven’t missed this. Luckily, it’s not a completely ridiculous time when we finally arrived at our Airbnb in the heart of Wellington, just off Cuba Street. We meet our hosts, Sophie and Scott, who are two of the most ridiculously lovely people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting, and also two of the most competent, calm and collected despite their young age (hey, I’m 31 now, I can say this stuff with a straight face)!

The apartment is so, so lovely, and the location spot on. Also, Greta and I are in heaven with regards to having a proper bed for the first time in almost two weeks. And a working shower. And space. Space to spread out. Not that we don’t miss Thor but…We head out for the evening to grab some food (quickly now, it’s nearing 9pm!) but neither of us are very hungry and apparently there’s been another, smaller earthquake which we STILL haven’t noticed and all in all, we agree that we’re entitled to having just froyo for dinner. Because we’re adults like that. There’s not too much damage that we can see, but the next day we spot a teapot shop that hasn’t fared as well as most of the others.

Now that we have a full day in Wellington, I first take Greta on a little jaunt to Mt. Victoria, where they filmed a bit of LotR (namely the ‘get off the road!’ scene, for those supernerds reading). We struggle to find the exact location until we bump into a tour group. Thus begins a slightly surreal five minutes wherein Greta and I are confronted with someone doing OUR job but in a different country with a different fandom. It’s like a parallel universe. We love it.

Then it’s time to head to Te Papa, a mix between the V&A and the Natural History Museum, and maybe the British Museum too. Basically, one of the best things in Wellington. We do a one hour whistlestop tour where both Greta and I are gobsmacked at this one machine/computer that measures earthquakes, which are literally happening ALL THE TIME. Seriously, there’s like, three in the space of five minutes. Of course, we feel none of them because Greta and I are immune to earthquakes somehow (and these are like, tiny tiny ones). Anyway, on we go, through extinct animals, and Maori culture, and afterwards, we spend WAY longer than intended in the special exhibition they have on at the moment about Gallipolli, which include huge, larger than life models of some of the soldiers whose stories the exhibition tells. These models are made by Peter Jackson and Weta Workshop (yep, the LotR guys) and they are breathtaking. So intricate that there are even beads of sweat on foreheads, and flies on sandwiches. A must-see if you have the chance.

After the museum, we take the tram up to another botanical garden, and encounter an actual Victorian perfume parlour run by a Dutch man (we’re everywhere, apparently!)

We mosey through the gardens back down to town and at this point it feels like we’ve covered pretty much the entirety of Wellington. Our exciting evening consists of eating amazing Mexican food and playing NZ trivial pursuit, which doesn’t go too badly, actually. Tomorrow we have an afternoon flight back to Sydney, and then our Aotearoa adventure is over, but our Aussie one begins!!

The next morning we have time for one more thing, and this is where Greta’s Hufflepuff nature (patient and loyal) works out well, because WE ARE GOING TO THE WETA STUDIOS, OH YES WE ARE. When we arrive, we’re greeted by this guy:

Which leads to this:

And this:

And finally this:

Thanks for the memories, Bert. 

As we have to wait an hour for the next tour (good thing we went early!) we go to the most AMAZING place for breakfast. It was so awesome I have both forgotten the name AND not taken any pictures, because I’m too busy eating. Honestly, it’s about 500 meters from the Weta studios. Go there!! I would have had lunch and dinner there too if I could have.

Finally, we get our behind-the-scenes tour, and it’s everything I hoped it would be. Not only do they show us lots of cool LotR props, but they explain the magic and wizardry behind loads of their other films (District 9, King-Kong, Avatar, Narnia and the Hobbit). They let us handle an alien gun, and various types of chain mail, and we even get to chat to the artists and learn about their individual projects. Plus we totally luck out with our guide who geeks out with us, is obviously an artist himself (although he hates doing the chainmail) and lets us linger for so long the group behind us pass us by. So worth it.

We spend AGES in the giftshop, and Greta has to talk me out of buying two ludicrously heavy books on the 20 years of Weta Digital and Weta Workshop so far (BECAUSE, in a truly Slytherin move, it turns out later she has already bought them for my birthday!!!! ♡♡♡♡♡)

Then it really is time to go, pick up our bags, and head back to the airport, saying Ki Ora, New Zealand, so long, and thanks for all the fish! Bring on the next adventure…we’ll be back!

xx

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