My Day in Wellington, NZ
Greetings once again to all y’all out there in the blogosphere.
I spent the whole day today (Sun., Jan. 3) in Wellington, New Zealand. After eating my free breakfast that came with my room, I decided to visit two places: Weta Studios, and the Te Papa Museum (which someone on the plane last night had told me about).
So I went out of my hotel, hailed a cab – ok, the cab driver was just sitting there waiting for a rider, so I didn’t have to “hail” anyone, but I would have! – and told the driver to take me to the Weta Studio. Turns out you can’t really go into the studio itself, but they have a little mini-museum and gift shop called “Weta Cave”. The driver took me there. I gawked at all kinds of LOTR-related stuff. A life-sized statue of Gollum was awfully cool. Lots and lots of exorbitantly priced figures, toys, etc. A new comic book soon to become a movie caught my attention, and I wanted to buy an issue, until I found out that a single copy of the comic went for $15.00! Since I can still remember when a comic book cost 25 cents, I wasn’t about to pay that.
I took tons of pictures there, of course. It started raining while I was there, so I had the friendly cashier call a cab for me so I wouldn’t have to walk around looking for one. The Weta Studios are in a very nondescript-looking residential neighborhood, and there’s a Christian school right across the street.
To be honest, the highlight of the Weta Cave visit for me wasn’t the LOTR stuff (although that was really great). The place was mostly filled with stuff having to do with a movie they’re working on now about some kind of retro-futuristic scientist/adventurer and his hot-chick sidekick. I wasn’t very interested in all that, since I’d never heard of it, but the place was full of that. The coolest thing there was the stuff related to the Halo movie that never got made. They had some life-size Covenant weapons on display that were very cool (see picture above), and some as-yet-unreleased statuary that is going to be available later this year featuring the Halo characters. If I had about $1000 to spend, I’d definitely have spent it on a couple of pre-orders for statues of the Master Chief and Arbiter, and one of the Master Chief attacking a Flood character.
They also had the actual gigantic pistol prop that Hellboy used in the movie, and lots and lots of other cool stuff.
After visiting Weta, I went to the Te Papa Museum, which is a huge place, showcasing native New Zealand art and history, and lots of really cool stuff. Lots of interesting information about how New Zealand was settled by Europeans and what it was like there in ancient times. One interesting thing that made me grin was a huge wall-size animated view of how the continents formed. I’ve seen something like it before of course (but smaller) – how the continents broke apart millions of years ago through the shifting of the tectonic plates or whatever. As the display showed the continents breaking apart, a voiceover was talking about “our land”, and “our country”, and I was unconsciously focused on North America when the display started fading out and a section of land in the southern part of Australia was highlighted. I confess I was confused for a moment. What’s going on? The North American continent just sort of scrolled off the edge of the screen as the Island of New Zealand became the focus of the presentation. It made me smile. I’m so provincial!
They also have the complete skeleton of a giant squid on display. I didn’t know squids had skeletons (thought they were like octopuses – octopi?), but there it was. And a functional station wagon made entirely of corrugated roof material. It got very windy while I was there, and I was almost blown over a few times as I walked back to hotel.
For the first time, I met someone else involved with the IODP expedition on the elevator today. He wasn’t one of the software engineers, and to be honest, I didn’t even understand what his function on the ship was. Some kind of assistant to one of the scientists I think. When I got back to my room, I found an old email with the name of one of the software engineers and left a message for his room for him to call me later.
Tomorrow morning at 8:00 am a bus comes to the hotel to take us to the ship. I’m very excited, but I also wish I had more time to spend in Wellington! It’s so beautiful here, and I’d like to rent a car and drive out to see some of the countryside I could see from the airplane.