We had to book the ferry from Picton to Wellington online. Sam took full responsibility for this, and upon finding that the “Mr/Mrs/Miss” box preceding our names wasn’t a drop down box with fixed options, he decided to appoint us “Admiral General Sam” and “Supreme Mugwump Sarah” for the voyage…
….the ticket booth lady didn’t half look at us strange as we pulled up at the docks…
After the ferry ride from hell (unless you have an iron stomach, find a place to lie down and quietly die of seasickness for a few hours), we arrived in Wellington city.
Our first stop off the sleepy South Island, where each city and town is connected via just one straight road, quickly we realised that the North Island is quite different. We actually had to pay attention to the road now, in the most confusing city to drive ever (according to Sam).
We didn’t have a chance to photograph the arrows on each lane, but just imagine someone very indecisive and bad at drawing decided to direct the traffic down five different routes.
The freedom camping sites here had changed also, from beautiful hidden farmlands to concrete carparks with less than a metre between you and the next van. Cozy!
Compromise is key though, and Owhiro Bay’s self-contained spot was very pretty, so much so that we stayed for two nights.
During the day the weather was less than kind, but we were here to visit a couple of the museums and galleries here.
If you want to learn about the history of Wellington in one huge timeline, the Wellington Museum is the place to go. It has 4 floors, celebrating stories of the city’s maritime history, early Māori and European settlement, and how the capital of New Zealand has evolved over its 150 years.
You can also take the photo opportunity to look very busy and important in the Von Kohorn Room if you like…
Te Papa Museum
I think the Te Papa Museum was one of my favourite places in Wellington. The six-storey, 50,000-tonne building is sat on earthquake-proof shock absorbers called base isolators.
When the impact of the Kaikoura earthquake hit on 14 November 2016, the damage was minimal. The design of the building could keep people and the artefacts inside safe from an earthquake of up to a magnitude of 11.
This museum cares for over 2 million objects. It is also host to one of the largest Māori collections in New Zealand. Truly beautiful intricate works of art.
It also had a massive exhibition hall, which on occasion would host the Wellington University students art sculptures.
A collection of sculptures inside really caught the attention of many, including my eyes.
In dark rooms were massive, extremely lifelike humans with pain-stricken faces, depicted at critical moments in the Gallipoli War.
Im not sure what was more realistic, the shock that each scene invoked over the audience or the tears rolling down this widows face.
Every bead of sweat, every arm hair and every dirty gun barrel was designed and fabricated by The Weta Cave, right here in Wellington.
The Weta Cave
About 4 years ago, before I traded in my job as a prop-maker and bespoke mask maker to chase the snow; coming to work here would have been my Mecca (…actually still is!)
The birthplace of not just Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. The Weta Cave produces weapons, creatures and literally high quality film prop you could want. For HUNDREDS of Movies and TV shows!
There were a few props on display in The Weta Cave’s gift shop, but the really amazing things were seen during the workshop tour.
A really friendly guy showed us around a few showrooms with life-size models of Chappie, Orcs, Avatar weapons and LOTR swords. I was practically buzzing when they showed us what they had just bought, a human size, super high resolution 3D printer. Capable of printing life size characters. Awesome!
The next room was full of work benches with cork-board dividers. Pinned to the cork boards were mood boards, working sketches, and material samples. The desks had half-animatronic heads, silicone prosthetics, components of model guns, huge hand silicone jacket moulds, King Kong’s punched hair tests… all of which we could touch, pick up, hold, examine… it was like being in heaven.
After pouring with rain for 2 days, the sky started to clear up over Wellington. It was exactly what we were waiting for as we packed up the van and headed to Mt Taranaki for an unexpected overnight experience…