HAL 2019 World – Days 37-38 Sea Day & Wellington, New Zealand

March 2, 2019 Paul Groves

Ok…get out your NoDoze because this is going to be a long one!

Let me backup a few days.  Since we left South America we’ve had Polynesian cultural ambassadors on board.  They taught classes in dancing, crafts such as necklace and bracelet making, and, taught Ukulele classes. They were scheduled to leave upon the ship reaching Auckland, New Zealand.

So on the sea day before we reached Auckland, they had final two events.  The first event was their final singing and dancing performance.  The second was a performance by the ships guests/students singing and playing the Ukulele.  Paul was one of the performers.  In the picture he’s sitting center in the second row wearing a bright blue shirt.  They played Tahitian and Polynesian songs.  For just learning to play, they did a great job!

Now let’s fast forward to today.

We arrived in Wellington early in the day. This is the capital city of New Zealand and is the home of New Zealand’s movie industry.  The female Prime Minister lives here and works in the building known as “The Beehive”.  Because of that, she is often referred to as the “Queen Bee”.  

Our excursion today was “Lord of the Rings Locations/WETA”. 

On the way to our tour, our guide pointed out the Wellington sign.  Unofficially the city’s motto is “Wellington Will Blow You Away” as the city is often very windy.  

He also indicated that because a lot of the city is built on a hillside, many homeowners have had their own cable car built from their garage on the street up to their home.

Another unique feature of the city are the three houses called “The Painted Ladies” which are styled on homes in San Francisco.

Our guide also pointed out the Te Papa Tongarewa( “Te Papa Tongarewa translates literally to “container of treasures”) National Museum. More about this later.

We then proceeded to the WETA Cave.  We were there for about 2 hours and saw props, costumes, creatures and models made by them for the “Lord Of The Rings”, “The Hobbit”, and lots of other movies as well as a short documentary about the history of their film-making.  The life sized models of the characters were great.

After WETA we drove to the top of Mt Victoria where some of the filming for the “Lord of The Rings” movies took place.  It was fun to see the real site and compare it to what it looked like in the movie and know that if the camera had moved a foot one way or another you’d be looking at the city!  We also went to 3 other filming sites there as well.

On the way back to the ship our guide dropped us off back at the Museum.  There is no charge to visit the museum except for the special exhibits.  There was a special exhibit about China’s Terra-cotta Warriors but since we’d seen them a couple of years ago in China, we decided to skip this one.  Instead we went to the exhibit on the WWI Gallipoli campaign battles.  I’m not going to talk about the campaign here but just say that it was a fiasco.  

The exhibit traced the battles from the beginning to the end specifically from the New Zealand troops point of view.  Scattered throughout the exhibition were huge sculptures (made by WETA) of people involved in the battles.  They were amazingly realistic even though most were over 15 ft tall!  The exhibition was very well done and very emotionally moving.  

What impresses me the most about New Zealand is the inclusion and respect of the indigenous people, the Māori, in all aspects of New Zealand life.  In the Gallipoli exhibition, the displays were not only captioned in English but also in the Māori language often referred to as te reo “the language”, short for te reo Māori.

At the end of the exhibit you had an opportunity to make a paper poppy with a message about the personal impact of the exhibition on you and then leave it at the foot of the soldier in the next room.

In the exhibitions about the indigenous peoples we saw this huge piece of handmade Māori cloth on the wall. It had to be at least 15 x 20 ft.  Very beautiful.

Something fun we found was a life sized replica of a blue whale heart.  Ginormous!

After two hours in the museum our brains were about to explode so we headed back to the ship.

 On the way back we noticed the the cross walk light used a Māori warrior doing the “Haka”.  We’ll say more about that in our presentation when we get back.