Saturday, March 22, 2014

New Zealand Day 37: Weta Cave and back to the Carter Observatory

The big thing on my agenda for our full day in Welly was to go to the Weta Cave, home to Peter Jackson's production company (and thus to lots of Lord of the Rings stuff). We'd tried to go with Alex on our way down the islands, but had been blocked by terrible traffic. 

Mom and I headed off to Miramar, one of the Welly suburbs, to check it out. The free part is pretty much a gift shop, though there's also a cool free movie that runs 25 minutes or so and talks about the digital effects and prop work on a variety of different projects, including Lord of the Rings and more recently the Hobbit movies. 

Here are a few shots from inside the shop:

We did not climb on Lurtz.

We also took the paid tour inside the Workshop, which was awesome! Sorry, they don't allow photos. They talk a lot about how the different departments and the process of bringing all the props and effects to life. Definitely worthwhile if you are ever in town. However, it was a bit shocking when our guide reached out and bent one of the spikes on top of Sauron's spiky black crown—the costume had to be foam rubber because the full metal version used for some close-up shots was too heavy to actually wear!

We were also able to touch some of the special plastic chain mail that Weta has developed, which looks authentic but is much lighter than the real version.

And, of course, we spent some time with the trolls in the garden.

We went out for a dinner at a great Italian place, Bella Italia.

B got a kids-sized gelato but it looked to be just the same size as the grown up one, plus marshmallows.

We've been drinking lots of these.

Then it was off to Carter Observatory, which we'd enjoyed so much the first time and B was eager to show to M and Deen.

It was spectacular again, with a different show in the planetarium (this one talking a lot about telescopes and how astronomers study the universe) and another great explanation of the southern skies.

Sadly, it was a cloudy night so the telescope wasn't open. Instead, B was able to check out some more exhibits. She could touch a space rock...

...and this is her favorite, which is a computer simulation of various shuttle blast-offs, complete with noise and vibrations.

This is a moon rock.

If I moved to New Zealand, I still think I'd like to live in Wanaka, but it would be pretty great to get to go to this observatory all the time. Really superb.

No comments: