It’s something of a complicated morning. First off, I have to check out of Nomads and head to Base. I figure it’s best to take my bags there first, and then hang around Nomads for the pick up. Without the Internet, it means I can catch up with my blog, which is woefully behind.
At two pm, the Wellington Movie Tours bus arrives, and I and another girl (Tessa) get picked up by our guide, Smuggles, and starts the drive off to the green belt.
A lot of the Hobbiton scenes were filmed here, including a cooking scene, ‘shortcut to mushrooms’ and ‘get off the road.’ We head to each one, with Smuggles showing a screenshot from the movie to show the exact angle each was filmed. Of course, by this point a lot of the trees have overgrown, but you can see the effect.
Every section, we try to recreate the photo, and we’re aided by some props. Most amusing is ‘Shortcut to Mushrooms’ since it involves a cowpat, a broken carrot and a bunch of leaves. We also had to draw hobbit names to figure out who got stuck on the bottom.
Sadly, the most memorable one is ‘get off the road’ which was filmed here, but used a fake tree which naturally, is no longer here. So instead someone gets selected to pretend to be the tree while we all play Hobbits again.
As a final stop, we also see the hill that the hobbits ran down while being chased by the dark rider. Naturally, I ran up to the top for a photo. Only one willing to do the hike though.
The next big stop is naturally the WETA workshop. Once a rather small special effects business, the Lord of the Rings movies skyrocketed it into the big names. It’s the business that worked on District 9, Avatar, King Kong, World of Warcraft, Ghost in the Shell and Thunderbirds, in addition to the Tolkien movies.
Anyone can go into the shop and miniature museum free of charge, but to go behind the scenes you either need to be on a tour or try your luck at getting a ticket. You’re also not allowed to take photos inside as technically, all of the items inside belong to the companies who commissioned them and images are a no no, which is too bad because it’s a really cool place to see. There are props and costumes or designs EVERYWHERE. Some of it’s from cancelled media (like a truck from the abandoned Halo movie that two WETA workers got married in), others are original projects that WETA workers are encouraged to work on (if they use the stuff at WETA to make their own stuff, they’re getting to practise making better moulds and props for official jobs), but its fun to try and ‘figure-out-what-show/movie-this-is-from’ before asking if its original/cancelled.
We get back to Wellington, I hang around Base until it gets dark, and around 10pm I headed out to see what Wellington was doing for New Years. Turns out there’s a concert down by the lagoon, where a band are singing a top hit from each year from 1980 until 2016. I decide to huddle down at the water’s edge and wait out the old year in the company of the drunk, the cold and the dancing. By the time the last hour comes up, the atmosphere’s pretty hyped. Once the countdown starts? Bedlam.
We have fireworks, music, people jumping into the lagoon to swim across. It’s pure chaos in the form of celebration. Sadly, something gets into my eye, which feels painfully hot and I start to freak out that I’ve got firework ash in my eye. However, after drowning my eye in water, there’s no obvious damage so it’s probably just been grit.
Stumble my way back to the hostel after that, since I’ve got the bus to catch early in the morning. Really hoping that roommates stay quiet and I can sneak out without causing noise and chaos for them in a few hours.