Posted in Wellington

Weta Cave: A Geek’s Wonderland

“It’s a dangerous business Frodo, going out of your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

This famous quote from the epic movie, The Lord of the Rings, echoed into my consciousness one nippy mid-day as my husband, bubba, mom and I approached the troll-guarded Weta Cave which resembles more like a hobbit-hole than a cave. Yes, I am a big (no, huge) fan of The Lord of the Ring series and when I discovered that the creative geniuses (Weta Workshop) behind the most-awarded movie of all time have a retail shop/mini-museum in Wellington, New Zealand I just have to go by all means necessary.

Life-sized troll guarding the Cave

Weta Workshop is a Wellington-based design and creative works provider to almost all critically-acclaimed movies of stunning visual effects. It is said to be the center of New Zealand’s cinematic empire thus the term “Wellywood” was coined. Think of a movie that blew your mind with superb and other-worldly cinematic experience and they are most probably the hands behind its exceptional set design, props, costumes, make-up, etc. They designed the armours, weapons, prosthetics, miniature sets and other special effects of movies such as LOTR, The Hobbit, Avatar, The Adventures of TinTin, KingKong, Narnia, Spiderman, and the list just goes on and on. Their world-class design studio won several accolades from Academy Awards, Bafta, etc.

Miniature Orc displayed on a glass-shelf

Entrance to the cave is free but to get the utmost experience you need to pay for several tours that they offer in site. Below are their rates as of this date:

Weta Cave Workshop Tour – $25nzd

Miniature Stage Tour – $25nzd

Weta Studio Tours Combo – $45nzd

There and Back Again (guided transfer) – $65nzd

There and Back Again (full-experience) – $85nzd

An Evening with Weta and Coco (with 3-course dining experience) – $145nzd

Model of Smaug, the dragon in The Hobbit movie

We didn’t avail of any of the tours as they were way beyond our budget so we just got contended scrutinizing the jaw-dropping displays of models of  the different characters from LOTR such as Smaug, Lady Galadriel, Uruk Hais, and Gandalf.

Frodo’s Hobbit-Feet

A display of Frodo’s prosthetics on glass-shelves as well as the different armours used in the movie Narnia can be viewed. There was also a cave-like wall at the far-end side of the store with an array of different LOTR miniatures. Wide-range of collectibles, apparels and publishings for LOTR, The Hobbit, TinTin, Chappie and the like are also available for purchase at the shop.

Cave-like wall with LOTR miniatures

The cave was a bit underwhelming as it is only a tiny store so you can have a complete tour of it for less than 20 minutes but the obvious lack of space was compensated by the sheer vividness of imagination and unquestioned passion put into making each and every display as detailed and fascinating as possible. Weta Cave is not just for LOTR geeks but undoubtedly for anyone to feast their eyes on!

How to get to Weta Cave from downtown Wellington:

  • Take bus #2 from downtown Wellington to Miramar. Get off at Camperdown Road. You can ask the driver to drop you here. Weta Cave is located at 1 Weka Street.
  • If you are driving, you can see several signs at Miramar pointing to Weta Cave. Just follow the signs near the shops in Miramar and drive to Camperdown Road.
Posted in Wellington

I Left My Heart in Wellington

Cable Car going down from Mt. Victoria

Ah! Windy Welly! I can write volumes of poetry about you and we’ve only known each other for 2 days! Ha-ha! But really, if I am given a chance to move here, I will definitely do so in a heartbeat. Wellington is so picturesque that I cannot take a bad photo of it, and that’s saying something considering that I got practically zero skills in photography. And the coffee here is so good you can find a good café almost anywhere. It is also noted that this “world’s coolest little capital” has more café, restos and bars per capita than New York! How great is that?

Mom and Bubba with Max Patte’s “Solace of the Wind” sculpture

Since we had two weeks of holiday break last Christmas, my husband decided to test his driving endurance (and patience for that matter) and went on a 10-hour road-trip from Auckland to Wellington, with a one night stopover in Taupo. Wellington is more compact than Auckland, so it’s easier to explore the city on foot. There are also more buses here compared to Auckland so you can just hop into one if you’re a bit tired and weary from walking. If you have your own car, attractions can be visited with only 5-10 minutes of driving. It’s a bit more chilly here than in Auckland because of wind factor so be ready to have a jacket handy if you are traveling on cooler months.

View of the city from Mt. Victoria

It’s so easy to fall in-love with Wellington, not in a maddening, hair-pulling state of love, but in a gentle motherly-nurturing kind of it. It’s a kind of place you will take good care of because you know it will give you the same kind of cultivation – both for your physical well-being as well as in the mind and soul.

Boats at the Waterfront

Just a simple stroll at it’s waterfront can help you clear your mind of daily stresses as the cool breeze of the ocean sweeps your meandering thoughts. A quick hike to Mt. Victoria could just be your much needed energy boost or if retail therapy is your thing, the city has countless of shops and stores wherein you can get spoilt for choices. If you’re a culture vulture you can visit Te Papa museum and be awe-inspired by it’s amazing Gallipoli exhibit. 

Gallipoli exhibit @ Te Papa Museum

There’s just everything for everyone in this city and no matter what your reasons are for visiting, I’m sure your heart will be captivated just like ours were smitten by its quaint and unassuming charm.