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Wellington to Christchurch (via Middle Earth)

overcast 14 °C

Sunday - (24th September)
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Bit of a geek filled morning, this morning...

My camera is full (no mean feat, when your memory card is 2Gb), so I copy all the files to disk, and clear it out.

It's only the 2nd time I've had to do it. If all my stuff gets nicked, at least I'll still have my pictures :)

Spend the rest of the morning (2+ hours) uploading piccies, and my blog. The internet is soooo sloooow here.

After all this hard work <cough>, I treat myself to a slap up lunch - Tulsi's $7 lunchtime curry special. It's actually rather nice (Aloo Gobi + rice + nan).

In the afternoon I brave the miserable weather and take the cable car up to the botanical gardens. It would be very lovely on a sunny day, but it's very windy, cloudy, and cold. I wimp out after about an hour of wandering round, and head back down for a nice hot coffee.

When you see the pictures of the cable car, remember how I suffered for my art !

In the evening I get to indulge one of my fave hobbies - World domination - as a couple of the guys are playing Risk.

Monday - (25th September)
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Today I'm on a Lord of The Rings (LOTR from now on) tour, that takes you to various LOTR related sites around Wellington.

There are 8 of us on the tour, plus our guide, Nathan.

Nathan tells us that he was an extra in the movies, and played one of the elves at Helms Deep (in the second film).

He is unable to prove this claim with photographic evidence, so I am a teensy bit sceptical.

Still, he is pretty knowledgeable about the movies, and very enthusiastic about them.

We have a kind of 'nerd rating' given to us, that represents how anal we are about the films. You'll be pleased to hear that I was only 3rd. First and second were both girls.

On the other hand, I'm the only one who has read the book 10 times....

First up we visit Mt.Victoria, right in the heart of Wellington. A few of the 'leaving the shire' scenes in film 1 were shot here. I've tried to get the same angle/shot so you can see it in the pictures.

Afterwards, we go for a drive down the coast towards an area known as Miramar. On the way, we stop to look at the boat used in King Kong. I hated King Kong. Just thought I'd mention it.

Miramar is where Peter Jackson (PJ henceforth) lives, and we drive by his house (it's right on the coast), and past many of the houses the cast stayed in while they were filming here. The girls all sigh as we pass Orlando Blooms house.

The top 2 nerds both think that Orlando was cool in the movie. I think he was made far too 'cool' compared to the books, where he's more of tree hugger.

After venting my Orlando spleen, I feel much better. Thanks for listening.

In Miramar, we stop for brunch at a really nice place called 'The Chocolate Fish Cafe'. It's very popular with actors who are working at the (very nearby) studios. All the chairs are hand painted, and the walls have lots of 'shiny things' stuck to them. Nice.

After our refreshments, we tootle up the road to take a look at WETA Workshop (the creature/costume/SFX shop). It appears, mainly, to be a bunch of old warehouses.

From Miramar, we head out of Wellington, to the site where they built the Helms Deep, and Minas Tirith sets.

This is the most unlikely location - a working quarry. PJ paid the quarry operators to move location for a year, while they were filming.

You can still see where the sets went, though. Unfortunately, I forgot to get a picture of the set shots, so you'll have to take my word for it.

Our next stop is Rivendell, which was filmed in a really nice location called Kaitoko Park.

The set was made to fit in-between the trees on site, in-order to nake it feel very natural.

Our guide completes the atmosphere by giving us his Legolas impression.

The final place we visit is the Gardens of Isengard (used in film 1), which are in a local park.

We get another fine scene recreation here, with Nathan taking the part of Saruman, and one of the guys taking on Gandalf. It's like being there.

Back at the hostel, it's another chilled out evening. One of the girls puts on Chocolat (the movie), which I've never seen. Surprisingly, I thought it was pretty good.

Tuesday - (26th September)
==========================

It's goodbye to Wellington, as I'm off to the South Island today.

This means taking a car ferry to Picton, which takes about 3-4 hours.

After some brekky (another visit to Mojo), I drive over to the ferry terminal (it's right in the centre of Wellington) and check in my car.

The ferry doesn't leave for another hour, so I wander back into town, just for something to do.

We actually leave later than we should, but I'm in no rush, and I'm not bothered.

The bestway to describe the weather is 'ominous'.

There are lots of low lying clouds around, all of them are grey. Here and there, you can see small chinks of light grey cloud.

20 minutes into the trip, it starts raining, so it's off below decks to get some lunch.

We arrive at about 5pm, after a pretty smooth (but wet) crossing, where I head off to Kaikoura, about 2 hours away.

After a pretty uneventful drive, I get to Kaikoura at about 7:30, and go and grab some dinner (seafood chowder - yummy).

Wednesday - (27th September)
============================

I'm off (hopefully) dolphin watching today.

The weather looks good, with blue sky and sunshine. First time I've seen a blue sky for about 5 days !

Kaikoura has a lovely backdrop, with snowy mountains off in the distance. All very photogenic.

The dolphin tour starts at 8:30am, but spectators (like me) just sit around for 30 mins while the swimmers (NOT like me) get their wetsuits organised.

We actually leave at 9ish, on 3 separate boats (it's a popular tour).

20 minutes later we see the dolphins. There are actually loads of them (about 100), and they are jumping about (some are doing somersaults!).

It's definitely the coolest thing, ever.

The swimmers get in the water as the dolphins go past, and try and 'entertain' them (by diving down, making squeaky noises, telling whale jokes, etc).

Eventually the dolphins all swim off, so the swimmers come back on board, and the boat moves to get in front of them again.

As the boat moves through the water, a few dolphins come and swim in the bow wave, which is great. You can really see how quick and agile they are.

We get back to shore at about noon, and everyone seems pretty happy.

I'm just hoping one or two pictures come out OK.

I have my lunch (BLT butties) in my car, and get gradually surrounded by seagulls. If feels like a scene from 'The Birds'.

The drive to Christchurch (my final destination) takes about 2 hours.

As I have some spare time, I stop off in a place called Lyttelton, which is supposed to have some nice views. I couldn't find them, though.

Get to my hostel at 5ish. It looks very nice, with the rooms organised in a quadrangle around a nice little garden. The rooms have underfloor heating, and it all seems rather Roman.

After a quick dip in the tepidarium, I head into the town centre

I walk down the banks of the Avon, grab a few piccies, and get some sushi for dinner.

Posted by richardn 16:13 Archived in New Zealand Tagged backpacking

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hiRichard, I could be very wrong but I suspect you enjoyed some Australian experiences slightly more than the New zealand ones, maybe it was the weather, or the company on some of the trips. But all in all what a hell of a holiday luv Mum and Nicky xxx.

by Oppana

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