Christmas day was lovely. Not much to say about it, so here’s some pictures (though I will say that having a BBQ on Christmas day was pretty weird!)
We spent a fair bit of time indoors here – its called windy Wellington for a reason! We went to the Te Papa museum which had a Gallipoli memorial section. They had these large sculptures of some people who had fought there which were done by Weta Workshop – the same people who did a lot of props and outfits for films such as Lord of the Rings, District 9, and Mad Max. The work was incredible, and definitely a highlight of the trip. I’ve never seen anything so realistic on such a large scale. The figures were huge, and everything was life-like and to-scale. It was fascinating how they did stuff like sweat, or blood from their wounds. There was also a Maori exhibit here, but it didn’t feel it was that impressive. It felt like a random collection of Maori cultural items. It didn’t feel there was a story or “historical-path” to follow, so not as impressive as the Gallipoli exhibit. The other exhibit we saw was one all about bugs – once again built by Weta. It featured specific pods around some bugs, with to-scale models. Once again, impressive to see Weta Workshop at work with these massive, life-like creatures.
The next day we went to Weta Workshop itself (after a brief tour around the botanical gardens in Wellington). It’s absolutely stunning the work they do, it’s amazing how pretty much everything you see in many films is actually plastic, carefully painted by the “department of lies” (the painters call themselves that). They were even cutting out a life-size polystyrene block of Matt Damon – didn’t get to find out what for though. There was also a car they made for a Halo movie that never got made. Custom built in 8 weeks, it could go 100kph in any direction thanks to fully rotating wheels. But the film got scrapped, and now they have it sitting in their workshop.
Unfortunately we couldn’t take any photos in here – everything is owned by the film studios themselves rather than Weta, so they had to ask for permission to display the works. Apparently, Disney was a real pain to deal with, considering their legal team tried to sue themselves.. The best part was we were taken around by a guy called Reece who makes chain mail. It was great because he was one of the artists who actually worked there, and his passion for what he did was so obvious. Really nice to talk to someone who loves their job.
These photos are from various sites online, seeing as we couldn’t take our own! It also features some of Reece’s work, of which you can see more here
Once we left Wellington we took a trip to Waitomo glow worm cave. This has been recommended to us a few times now, and it was fascinating to see them. Looked like the night sky, but underground. Once again couldn’t take pictures here, but we would have struggled to get a decent picture without a tripod and time to spare. The picture below gives a good impression, but its not quite the same as seeing it in the flesh!
As we surfaced from the cave we heard there had actually been an earthquake in Wellington, 5.5. Didn’t feel it though. We were too far away and probably on a different tectonic plate/fault line. Oh well, almost got a feel an earthquake in New Zealand!
On our final day in New Zealand and the last day of 2016, Claire, Theresa, and I decided to do another skydive at Lake Taupo. I actually felt a little anxious jumping this time. As I was talking to the guy I was jumping with he said its because I know whats coming now, where I didn’t last time. But it was a much better experience this time around because I got chance to actually stop worrying and look around to enjoy the view. Think there was so much adrenaline last time that I don’t really remember what happened. I also got the chance to actually control the parachute this time, which was great fun. Claire and Theresa enjoyed it too and they both got chance to control the parachute as well. Paige also got some great photos of us from the ground.
That evening we all went out for a pub crawl around Matamata. We went around about 3 places before returning back to David’s club, which by far had the most people (about 30-35). Apparently everyone goes to the beaches on new years, so town was dead. It was a good night, and good fun.
And that was it for New Zealand. After a nice lunch near the airport with a few family members before we left them for a our flight – only to find out we had been upgraded to business class! Fancy wine list, glass of champagne on arrival, fully reclining seats with massage functionality, and a roast lamb dinner for the meal. Very nice!
After our long journey and a long sleep in Bangkok, it was great to be back in Asia! The smells and sounds all feel so familiar now, compared to the first time we were here. We felt so anxious, and now we take it in our stride. We spent the day getting massages, eating Pad Thai’s, and enjoying cheap beers and cocktails. Good stop over before we carry on our trip.
Not long now until the end of our trip and we have to go home. I feel it’s going to come around a lot sooner than we might want!