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A day in Middle Earth

Pointy-ears, giant orcs and non-chocolate muffins


We must be gluttons for punishment, somehow our vast experiences to do with LOTR have not yet been enough and so we embarked today on what has to be one of the most geek fest filled days we’ve had so far. We started out the day by visiting a little set of warehouses, tucked away in a sleepy little suburb of Wellington, that is home to one of the most prestigious names in New Zealand movie making; WETA studios. They were the principal costume/set/graphics/props/prosthetic/everything designers for LOTR and following on from that success and some other smaller films such as Avatar they decided to open a small museum to the public. It was a surprisingly good place to visit especially considering its small size. The place was stuffed with props and costumes used in LOTR as well as some of the other projects they’ve worked on. They also had a pretty engaging twenty-five minute documentary looking at the history of WETA and the work that they’ve done. We desperately wanted to buy one of the collectables from the gift shop but sadly everything came with an astronomical price tag and so we had to settle with the free postcard given out on the completion of a visitor survey form.


We stuffed down a quick lunch and after a chance meeting with some of our fellow travellers from Fraser Island (oh what a small world we live in) we trekked off in search of adventure on the LOTR Wellington film set location tour. A little bit of a mouthful but I guess we were paying by the letter at $95 per person. It was worth every single cent however as it was a personal guided tour it being just us in the van (not technically true there being another family there who weren’t English speaking and didn’t really come to any of the tour spots as their three year old was sleeping). Our tour guide Laura concentrated on us almost exclusively as a result and we had a brilliant time in her capable hands. She was a bigger LOTR geek than either of us could ever hope to be and let us in on so many behind the scenes stories, such as Viggo Mortensson had to have the National Armed Police called out in response to his actions on a Wellington street!

She took us to each location, and as the sets are no longer in place, was ready with pics showing the locations as they were with the actors and sets in place. Not only this she happily answered all of our inane questions and took our photos, even going so far as to whip out some sticks so we could pretend to be Gandalf and Saruman. By far the best part though was when she produced the elf ears and sword so that we could pretend to Legolas. To top it off she provided us with afternoon tea at Rivendell although because of the rain we found ourselves hiding in the van as opposed to chilling with the elves.


It was an awesome tour that we’re glad we did. We had previously been tempted to simply follow our LOTR film location guide around the country but that would have been rubbish. We would have turned up at most of the places and after hours of fruitless searching eventually found the hidden spots and simply been looking at a tree or a rock with no reference to where it actually fitted in with the films. The tour took up this part of the slack, taking us straight to the locations and then providing us with the pics that showed the location during the filming providing an instant memory jog as well as giving an interesting insight into some of the filming methods used.


As if we hadn’t had enough of LOTR today, once we got back to our campervan we continued on with our holiday reading; Alex had The Hobbit and Rach had The Lord of the Rings.

Rex’s Rules of the Road

A great way to get in to the workings of WETA is by visiting the WETA cave in Wellington and it’s all free!

We wouldn’t recommend trying to visit the Wellington LOTR film locations without a tour guide unless you have a lot of time on your hands trying to pick out the correct trees. Unless you know specifically what you’re looking for, there’s no way of picking out the right features.

There are other LOTR tours for cheaper but according to the visitors centre these are a little less personal and we had such a good time we didn’t mind paying the extra.

Check out Rach's reviews of Weta Workshop and Wellington Rover tours.

Posted by rexontheroad 18:38 Archived in New Zealand

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