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Our journey to the North Island had finally arrived. It was time to say goodbye to the South Island. It had treated us well. We were up early in Picton and made ourselves ready to make the crossing to Wellington.
The company that ferries from Picton to Wellington is Interislander. We had booked the ferry crossing months earlier when we decided to travel to New Zealand. We chose an approximate date we thought we would be landing in Picton. Our guess was close, but in reality, we arrived a few days before our original booking. It was very easy to change our dates around, and on our 13th day in New Zealand, we were ready to make the crossing.
Making Our Way to the Terminal
We arrived at the Ferry terminal around 7:40AM. Dropping off the car was easy as was checking our bags. Then we waited. They finally announced our ship was boarding and we were off to find a good place with a view for the 3-ish hour crossing.
Even though the ship did not feel crowded, the seats in the lounge areas filled up quickly. We found seats with a view out over the bow. Soon after, the ship was under way.
The Mini Cruise
The trip north from the South Island took us through little channels for quite a while. The views can be pretty great. Out on deck was really cold, but I ventured out several times during the crossing to shoot some photos.
Along with the sights on land as we passed by, we got to see orcas and dolphins off the bow of the ship. Overall, the crossing was smooth and lovely.
Arriving in Wellington
When we arrived in Wellington, we gathered our bags and picked up our rental car. We headed over to our hotel. We quickly found ourselves in the center of the busy Wellington business district. Our hotel was a high rise on the same block with dozens of other high rises.
After spending 13 days in the land of sheep, rolling hills and mountains, this was a big adjustment. It felt like we went from a sleepy village to San Francisco. I actually had to drive around to find parking. “What is this?”
We settled in and had something to eat. Then we headed out for our major Wellington destination…. The Weta Workshop Tour!
We arrived to find a bouncer guarding the door.
As we would find out later, Weta artists make these outdoor sculptures out of a special concrete material. It’s pretty cool. They made the core out of Styrofoam and aluminum foil.
I left my big camera at the hotel. I only brought along my phone. We wanted to be inconspicuous seeing as the workshop is dealing with active film and art projects. Really, we were only allowed to take pictures in a few areas anyway. Most areas were off limits due to the copyright of the project owner.
I did get to take some photos in the main display and gift shop area though. They had all sorts of props and costumes on display.
Lord of the Rings
They also had some figurines and statues.
They had head gear and prostheses used in the films as well as some chain-mail.
The Chronicles of Narnia
They also had the main hero props from the Chronicles of Narnia movies.
And, of course, some district 9 hero props.
The tour was amazing. I couldn’t take any pictures, but the props and pieces they showed off were really cool. They had an entire scale replica of Cair Paravel from the Narnia movies that they used for wide shots. There was a full built and functioning Warthog from the Halo video game that Weta built as a concept for a movie that was never green lit.
They showed off how they made armor and chain-mail. There was a section that we got to see their sword making shop. For anyone who travels to New Zealand and is at all interested in prop or film making, stop by for the tour. You won’t be disappointed.
At the very end of the tour, we got to chat with one of the Weta artists who was completing a private commission. We got to get up close with some of their processes for large scale, outdoor sculptures.
All in all, it was a great place to stop. It was also the catalyst for Su and I moving to LA. We were in the workshop chatting with one of the artists and we both thought, “Why aren’t we working with people like this?” 6 months later, I was in LA working on my first big film project. Crazy how things work out.
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