This mysterious-sounding place is a front shop and a museum for Weta Workshop, which together with Weta Digital designs and produces special effects, props, weapons, creatures and even whole words for movies. Having started in 1987 in a back room of the founders Richard Taylor and Tanya Rodger’s Wellington flat, Weta has grown to what it is now, a 5-time Oscar-winning company which helped create Avatar, District 9, the Lovely Bones,King-Kong and, of course, The Lord of The Rings and the Hobbit.
Richard Taylor and Tanya Rodgers at the Hobbit premiere in Wellington (more on the premiere here https://mikeandyulia.wordpress.com/2012/11/30/the-world-premiere-of-hobbit/)
Weta Cave (and the workshop) are situated in Miramar, a suburb of Wellington on the Miramar Peninsula. A trip there involved taking two buses and chatting to a friendly American gentleman on one of the buses who overheard us discussing where to get off while wresting a map from each other and suggested the best route before asking us where we were from and what we were doing in Welly. This is the second time this happened to us in Wellington – we`d be on a bus, discussing something between ourselves, and then a person behind us or in front of us would join in and offer their opinion or advice. I like it! The first time it happened we were discussing school uniforms in Wellington, and I said that black shoes and thick black socks looked particularly hot and uncomfortable in the summer, especially when paired up with uniform shorts, when a young man sitting in front of us turned around and joined in the conversation, saying he’d rather have the shoes than sandals. The three of us ended up chatting all the way to his stop, which was nice. Interestingly enough, he was an American, as well.
Anyway, once in Weta Cave, the first thing we saw was Gollum.
Another good place to see Gollum is Wellington Airport, where Weta installed a giant Gollum statue
The Weta Cave interior
Weta Workshop also produces collectibles. For mere $285 NZ you will own a hand-sculpted figure of Bilbo, while $649 NZ will buy you a beautifully hand-written Bilbo’s contract. There is also a display of collectibles which are sold out. The most popular item is probably the ring from the Lord of the Rings. Who will spend all this money on collectibles? Perhaps the guy who was visiting the Weta Cave at the same time as us and just couldn`t help himself: he shouted YOU SHALL NOT PASS upon seeing the Gandalf statue, the figure of the fire demon and a few other things.
The Witch-king from Lord of the Rings
Movie props: Bilbo’s prosthetic feet
After the Weta Cave, we decided to explore Miramar. But first we wanted to get a quick lunch. Which was fine, except when I tried to use my ketchup and didn`t know how, Michael helpfully said, Squeeze. And I did. And ended up with ketchup all over my face, my t-shirt and my trousers. Which is funny, because usually a packet of ketchup is barely enough for a small portion of fries. But apparently, it’s plenty if you want to cover someone with it. I wish there was a photo of this, but at the time I was trying (unsuccessfully) to get the bright red stains off my white t-shirt and beige trousers while Mike was trying to wipe my face and ended up rubbing the ketchup into my hair. Good thing I had a baseball cap!
Ketchup stains still visible on my clothes, we headed to the oceanside. The dock was a great place to watch airplanes land in the nearby airport – I`d never seen them so close before!
Our trip back home also brought us some bus-related adventures. We took a bus in the wrong direction, only realizing that when we were deep in some suburbs. The bus driver kindly said we could tag off (no, he wasn`t being rude – in Wellington you use a Snapper card to pay for public transport, which is cheaper and more convenient than cash. You simply put money on your Snapper, and then tag on when you get on and tag off when you get off – this help calculate the fare according to how far you went.). Having tagged off, we simply waited until he could drop us off to the nearest bus stop where we could get the right bus and then another one to take us to Island Bay, from where we walked home for another 20 minutes.
Waiting for a bus to Island Bay. Mike hasn’t read the sign yet
Another cool thing about Wellington buses (and I`m not sure if it applies to the whole of New Zealand – probably yes) is that when passengers get on they say hello to the driver, and when they get off, they usually thank them – you often hear a beep of Snapper as someone tags off, then shouts out, Thank you driver! and hops off. I think it’s lovely!