New Zealand’s North Island visually has a different feel to the South Island. While the South Island has the sweeping vistas and looming mountains, North Island is decidedly more hilly. It is three times the population of South Island too.
While on North Island we stayed in Rotorua, Auckland and, of course, Wellington, the home of New Zealand’s film industry. While in Wellington we stayed at a beautiful guesthouse in Seatoun, which is the area in which many cast members lived during filming.
- Wellington International Airport
On arrival at Wellington International Airport from the South Island we were greeted by the wonderful sight of Gandalf the Grey on Gwaihir. Installed in 2013 and designed by Weta Workshop, it certainly makes quite the impact!
- Weta Cave and Weta Workshop, Wellington
As well as having a walk around central Wellington, taking a trip on the Wellington Cable Car and yours truly having a hair cut, we visited Weta Cave and Weta Workshop as part of our stay.
Lasting around 45 minutes we walked through a converted area of Weta Workshop on a booked tour and saw plenty of props from many films, including The Lord of the Rings, King Kong and Ghost in the Shell. We also saw an artist at work.
Photographs couldn’t be taken during the tour but I took plenty in Weta Cave, which is an Aladdin’s Cave for Ringers. I could have spent hours looking through all the props and collectibles alone!
- Stone Street Studios and Park Road Post Production, Wellington
The Weta Group of Companies includes Park Road – owned by WingNut Films, the production company of Peter Jackson – and Stone Street Studios, and this creative community are all located within a few minutes of each other.
- Miramar’s Gandalf and Scorch-o-Rama in Wellington
Scorch-o-Rama – previously known as The Chocolate Fish Cafe – in Wellington was a hangout for the cast of The Lord of the Rings. Overlooking Scorching Bay, we embraced our fandom and popped in for a drink.
Located outside the Roxy Cinema is a wonderful, near life-size bronze statue of Gandalf the Grey. Erected by Wellington Regional Council, the statue is on loan by Tania Rodger and Richard Taylor, co-owners of Weta Workshop, and the Roxy.
- Kaitoke Regional Park
Kaitoke Regional Park, located just 45 minutes from Wellington, is a very tranquil spot with majestic trees and the Hutt River gorge.
It was special to me for one particular reason: Orlando Bloom’s Legolas. A publicity photograph of Bloom as Legolas was taken under a tree, a photograph which I remember seeing at the time. Did we find that tree? Yes, we think so!
This area was used as a backdrop for Rivendell, and there is a replica archway depicting The Gate to Rivendell: the gate through which the Fellowship left to start their quest. It was created by Weta Workshop, built on behalf of Wellington Movie Tours and Wellington Regional Council, and is ‘dedicated to all fans of The Lord of the Rings trilogy’.
- Read part 1 on locations from New Zealand’s South Island
- Stay tuned to read part 3 later in the year on visiting the Hobbiton Movie Set