Middle Earth Day 24: A Taste of Middle Earth

Sleep, glorious sleep! I finally got to sleep in and didn’t shiver the entire night. Big win for Anthony. Today would be my only legitimate day in Wellington since I would be hard pressed for time and needed to continue moving north. Also, with a few exceptions, Wellington is just another city. My game plan for the day involved the Weta Cave and Workshop, which is where the props for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit were created, and Te Papa Museum, which has some Hobbit props there on exhibition. The bus took me to Weta Cave and, as expected, what they had on display was minimal for the non-paying customers. However, I got to watch an informational video about the history of Weta Cave. The video included one of the creative co-founders Director Peter Jackson and some of the projects they worked on including Avatar, Lord of the Rings, Hobbit, District 9, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and King Kong. Out in front stood the three trolls from the first Hobbit movie welcoming visitors to this nerd wonderland. The trolls were life size and rather gargantuan staring down and glaring at tourists below. Inside, a mini museum had life size and authentic movie props of the main Orc from LOTR, swords and armor, Gollum, and Bilbo’s hairy hobbit feet. The Weta Cave offered expensive tours through their workshop, which has numerous other props, but I chose to save that money for something else. I would have loved to seen more of the creatures that make up some of my favorite movies of all time but on a long trip like this I need to pick and choose. If I picked up every lollipop I saw in the candy shop, I would be broke before I even stepped foot into Asia. Kind of a random metaphor but let’s roll with it. Next stop: Te Papa Museum. The museum had a wide assortment of displays on exhibition. Some floors completely covered the Maori culture, including the famous dance that can be seen before The Old Blacks play rugby matches. I did not spend too much time in the museum but the sights I found interesting were an authentic statue of Azog the Defiler, who is the Orc general from The Hobbit trilogy, a few Elvish costumes, and a giant squid that has been preserved and has eye balls the size of soccer balls. I planned to see a couple more things with the rest of my day such as Mount Victoria and the Botanic Gardens but I really did needed to grab something to eat. Apparently one of my dorm-mates, a German (no shocker there), had the same itinerary as me so I told him we should check out Mount Vic and the Gardens together. He offered me a German dessert that he prepared. I wish I could remember what it was called but I had difficulty pronouncing it to begin with. It was an egg, butter, sugar, and flour dough ball steamed over a pot of boiling water and then lathered with more butter and sugar and possibly honey. It was light and fluffy and delicious. The walk to Mount Victoria was quite easy and along the way I was looking for places that were filmed in the Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring movie. I couldn’t pinpoint a specific spot but I definitely got that Middle of the Earth sort of feel. The lookout atop Mount Victoria gave a grand view of the entire city of Wellington including its harbor. I would like to think I saw the tip of the South Island from this vantage point but it was too hazy to really say. On the way back down, we talked about our travels and eventually got onto the topic of how the German had gotten accommodation. He had been cycling all the way from Auckland (did it in 9 days) and whenever he needed to stop for the night, he would ask locals at their homes if they would let him pitch his tent on their lawn. All but one agreed to his request. This idea never even crossed my mind. I must try this as I travel further north. For me to pay what I have to pay to simply sleep on the ground is ridiculous. He told me most even offered him a shower and a homemade dinner and breakfast. To think I have been missing out on that hospitality blows my mind. Eventually we arrived at the Botanic Gardens. The Gardens were beautiful but after seeing Sydney’s Royal Botanical Gardens it is difficult to compare. On the descent, our hunger was tempted by the sweet aromas that wafted in the air. Passing restaurant after restaurant with their detailed photographs of their food with phrases saying “made fresh just for you!” tore us up. We were just about to order a gourmet burger from New Zealand’s most well known North Island fast food chain, Burger Fuel, when we decided to resign ourselves to the scraps of our leftovers waiting back at the hostel. Intrigued by my own go to cheap meal, Max the German asked for my recipe; I guess I can manage some edible meals even with the scraps I have to work with. I was tired and not looking forward to my 6:30 am wake up call so that I could be at the bus station in time for my departure to Tongariro National Park. Let’s keep the insanity going!

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