I knew we would find the artist studios in Wellington that helped Peter Jackson create the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit trilogies. Weta Cave, named after that ugly cricket indigenous to New Zealand, is home to the prosthetic and digital monsters, superheroes, and awe-inspiring creations that populate many popular and obscure films and TV shows. I was only interested in the Lord of the Rings. And the display cases in the gift shop were filled with memorabilia, affordable as well as one-of-a-kind. All I was able to take home were some fridge magnets and a T shirt … and some really amazing photos.

At one point on the tour, they showed us how pieces of armor and weaponry are built and assembled in metal in intricate detail, moulded in silicone, cast in light weight composite material at full scale, smoothed, sanded, then stressed (abused, damaged, and dented by kicking around the room) and painted to look like the real thing. We weren’t allowed to take any photos. But a page of their website gives a complete picture. And I am ashamed to say it made me purchase a couple more things online.

Our tour guide also informed us that Weta Studios was involved with the New Zealand National Museum’s exhibit of Gallipoli. So we hurried back downtown and found the museum Te Papa Tongarewa a short walk from the hotel on the wharf. By then the weather had gotten much colder, and it was a welcome relief to find shelter from the biting wind.

I only knew about Gallipoli, the war between the British and Ottoman empires in Turkey a hundred years ago that Australia and New Zealand sent soldiers to fight, from two films, one released in 1981 by the same name with Mel Gibson, and more recently Russell Crowe’s “The Water Diviner” released last year. Simply put, I was impressed and moved.

I grabbed some of the photos from the museum website and other places on the internet. The whole exhibit made me admire the artists at Weta Studios even more. And for one fleeting moment I imagined what it would be like to work there. Our guide encouraged those in his audience who had such aspirations to start small in their own garages to build things out of toilet paper rolls, packaging material, aluminum foil, and spray paint. That was how they all started. Nothing they had ever learned in school would prepare them for the job of their lives. Then I realized I had none of their talent, and decided I would come home to Waynesboro and create my awesome masterpieces there instead. Besides, I would blow my savings on moving costs alone.

So we left Wellington the next morning, back to Sydney and a couple of days of doing laundry and repacking our bags. In three days we would be flying to Tasmania.

Rolo B Castillo © 2018