Wellington is the New Zealand Hollywood or… Wellywood (yes, it is really called that). Of course our objective here was to see LOTR things. We went to see the WETA workshop, where the employees were unfriendly… but that didn’t stop us from paying the extra 20 bucks or so to see a tour of what they do there. We got to see some lady sculpting a tree, the actual warthog (from halo), and all the LOTR/Narnia/District 9/King Kong creatures you could imagine. We wanted to buy some goodies but the cheapest thing there was a $10 magnet… no thank you. In fact, the LOTR blu ray trilogy was $150… you can get it on amazon for $80… and that was 2 years ago.
There were quite a few filming locations in Wellington that we also wanted to see. Our favorite scene in the movies (Helm’s Deep) was actually filmed at a quarry that is still a working quarry (BUMMER!) but we did get to reenact Saruman and Gandalf chatting in the garden of Isengard. The really remarkable thing about a lot of those filming locations was that if you turned the camera around, you would be filming a neighborhood, or highway. For instance, the scene where the hobbits have to “get off the road!” is on a hill where if you turn around, you see the entire city of Wellington. One final note about Wellington, when we hopped on the plane to Queenstown, there was no security. None. We walked straight to the gate and boarded. Odd….