Day 4, Wellington NZ — December 5, 2003

The day started off with a quick bite of breakfast, toast and some sort of nut mixture turned into cereal. It was different but in a good way. Apparently Vegemite is a popular spread in New Zealand but neither of us was brave enough to try it, especially after smelling it.
We picked up the second of the group’s rental cars and headed out. We drove to and walked through several sites: Kaitoke (Rivendell), Upper Hutt (Isengard Gardens, River Anduin), and Dry Creek Quarry (Helm’s Deep). Rivendell was pretty neat. All of the structure was digital but I was able to climb down to the river and take some neat pictures.
For lunch we stopped off at a little bakery for some meat pie. Steak and Cheese. Yummy.
The afternoon trip was much more exhausting. We drove around to various landmarks in the area. We passed Weta Digital’s headquarters. I saw someone that looked a lot like Liv Tyler getting out of a car and walking into the building. I got that on videotape but I haven’t looked at it close enough to know if it was her or not. It was surprising to see that there were houses right next to Weta. I wouldn’t have thought that it would be set right in the middle of a residential neighborhood. We drove around to the back of Weta and paused to take a picture or two. The back of the building has big floor-to-ceiling windows in the offices and there were several people standing in front of the window when we stopped. We were all giggling quite madly when they returned our waves. I’m sure they’re used to tourists stopping by to gawk by now.
We played in the ocean for a while and then stopped by the Chocolate Fish Café for some refreshment. Apparently it was a favorite hangout spot for the actors when they were filming. It’s a nice little place on the beachfront. Having your tea and biscuit can be a bit tricky when the wind is blowing but it was still fun to do.
Apparently we were rested enough so we jumped back into the car and drove up Mount Victoria. It’s breathtaking to stand atop the mountain and look down on the land all around you. We watched planes land and take-off from the Wellington Airport and spotted the Apple store in the downtown centre.
Heading down the mountain we stopped to find the trail that was used to film the “Get off the road” scene from the Fellowship of the Ring. Armed with our location guidebook, we went off down the wrong trail, a very steep incline that ended in an abrupt drop-off. After trudging back up that path we found the right one, took the obligatory pictures and headed back up the car. My legs haven’t stopped hurting yet. I have a feeling that by the time I get home I’m going to be in better shape than I have in ages.
We closed the night with a big dinner at Mollie Malones, an Irish bar and pub in downtown Wellington. The food was a bit pricy but well worth it. We’re still having a great time and looking forward to heading out of Wellington in the morning. So far our stay has been limited to the big cities of New Zealand and we’re looking forward to seeing more of the countryside.

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