Day 29. Nerding out. WETA Studio! Lord of the Rings!

8:37 Saturday. (Here. A day behind)


A decent about of things have happened, so I’m going to do the same thing I did before and blog for 2 days! Hopefully I can leave this kitchen by midnight. šŸ˜‰

It’s really ok though. I got in early tonight and already walked around this tiny town and ate.

2 days ago in the am…

So as I was still finishing up the previous blog the two girls came back, Jess and Fiona and told me about this AMAZING breakfast burrito they just had. Sigh, I love me a good breakfast burrito. They flopped back down on their beds and told me as I packed the rest of my stuff that David was still down there writing poetry and having coffee. Kewl. Got the rest of my stuff packed and said my farewell. Down the elevator and out the front entrance. I saw the restaurant they talked about and looked around outside and he wasn’t there, walked in and he was sitting by himself in a booth. I saw a sign that said ‘come to the bar to order’, so I said hello and went to the bar. They were going to seat me at the bar, but I told them that I wanted to sit with the chap in the corner. They said, “well its almost lunch time, sooo we are going to have to move him. He doesn’t know that yet. But if you sit at the bar, you wont have to move.” Mkay. I went to tell him so he didnt think I was just blowing him off. He chose to come sit beside me at the bar. I talked to him about the burrito and he agreed that it was the best thing everrrrr. I looked at the time. Noon. I saw the when they stopped serving breakfast. 11 or 11:30am. SIGHHHH. No burrito. He was reading some interesting books on poetry and was writing some of his own. I got a chicken burrito with sour cream and a cappuccino. We talked a lot about poetry and life n such. He is a pretty interesting fellow. He has a lot of random facts and seems very extroverted as he just strikes up a conversation with anyone. He started talking to the girl beside me about how the seals with the tusks (walruses) could dive deeper than any whale! He also had a small whale necklace on made from some kind of bone? When i got my food, he told me we were not allowed to talk until I finished my food. Hahaha. Never had that happen before. He said he understood that while eating he didnt like to talk to people so he was giving me the same privilege. While I ate he read poems to me. Lol.

I recorded a few of his Stewy impressions since he is a Brit he does them quite well! Ill post one of them soon. He started talking to the barista about the decorations around the room and some of the fake arms coming through a few of the ceiling tiles. (This place was very interestingly decorated). We were saying bye and he put 3 wishes on me. That I have 3 kids, one would be rich, and that I name one Christopher. (I think…he changed the name a few times..or it could have been a new name for me..). He almost wrote a poem about me, but I forgot to ask what it said. Ah well. If he is reading this, send me the poem! I headed out.

I planned to head to WETA and quickly pulled up maps and saw it was an hour and a half walk. I can do that. I walked a ways and following my phones walking directions made a few turns and half an hour later stopped. There was almost a cartoonish tunnel in front of me that said only cars could go through? There was no way around…? Ook. Well there was a bus stop there. I took a few steps back to see when the next bus was coming.

I didnt even have time to check when I saw a bus coming around the corner. Umm ok. I talked to the bus driver and said where I was going. $2. Cool! It was already 1:30pm in the afternoon. I wanted to get there and get out of Wellington after. Hop in and sit my big bag up on a small shelf and I stood there because most of the seats were taken and the rest weren’t worth it knocking people with my wide load walking past people.

Pretty cool but tiny tunnel. After we exited the tunnel…guess what? Yea. It started raining! Lol. Again..I guess I was supposed to get there quicker and not have to walk in the rain. :-B (You can tell when I’m using my keyboard because I don’t use emojis)

This was where I was heading:

So I had planned to walk all this way.. in the rain. But instead Im on a bus and the bus driver had me pay to a closer location but asked again where I was going and she understood now and told me to stay on till the end of the route. Ooook.

The over all route:

And how close she dropped me to my destination:

Thank you Lorrd!

I see some large creatures from LOTR (Lord of the rings) and I start geeking out….heh…wooo

This. Will be excellent.

The first thing I see to my left inside..

Gollum aka Smeagol! He can be yours for a mere $4100!

I learned later that they had worked on 150 films so far. Ghost in the Shell was one of them:

Aaand how they created / made all the prosthetics.

More LOTR stuffs:

Also, how they came up with the name ‘WETA’:

Sooooo a pretty gross massive mutant grasshopper type bug. I mean..I would name my company after it too.

A lovely fella standing beside the exit…a worker was telling a kid that he just woke up and hadn’t has his coffee yet. Lol

I had to..

I booked the workshop tour and the miniatures stage tour. Sad to see that no photography was allowed..

While I waited for the workshop tour, I went into another room full of figurines:

Finally a woman called into the ‘Cave’, “alllll 2:30pm cave workshop tours come with me!”

We walked outside and down the side of the building where we went into a connecting building. We were told we could set our stuff down in that room because it is where we would be exiting from. Good! As I was walking through the shop, I had to continually watch my wide load as I turned. Lol. Plopped the pack down in a large cubby hole and we watched a video on what we were about to see and the overall process of WETA:

We went through about 5 rooms in about an hour and were only allowed to take pictures in the last room. She surprisingly asked in the beginning, who wanted to carry a sword, she had 4 of them. Ummm Yeaa! So I got a lovely sword to carry around through the tour. You’ll see it in the next picture. It looked relatively real but was super light and not sharp at all. The first room she talked about all the movies they had worked on and there were plaster faces along the wall of various characters from their movies. I guess they did not own the props.. so if any pictures got out they could be sued? Eh I dunno about that. It’s probably so people continue to pay for the tour. It was pretty sweet though. I guess I don’t get that if they created the props how they ‘weren’t theirs?’. Ah well, I did as I was told and as badly as I wanted pictures..kept my phone holstered.

The next room was how they created the huge armor for the dwarfs in the movie. She showed us the process from creating the original ideas through sketches and illustrations to 3D modeling them to making a prototype out of heavy duty foam, to using a mold to create the final helmet out of a lighter harder substance calllllled.. Yep. Can’t remember. It’s fine. I’m sure the other materials I listed were wrong too. They had a real life size version of 3 dwarfs riding into battle on their …pigs..? She said the way they filmed the scene where tons of the dwarfs were coming into attack was they took shots of 3 dwarfs on treadmills and just kept take shots of different runs and moves to put them into the movie. The next room was pretty sweet! The first thing I see is from an xbox game called “Halo”. It was a life size working version of the vehicle called, the Warthog:

For many of you that don’t know. She said they were asked by Microsoft to make a real one for a Halo movie they were going to be working on and they had 7 weeks to make it. (She mentioned earlier that the Studio was so successful because of their technology and how close the buildings were. You could make an entire feature film in about a 4 block radius. They had EVERYTHING you needed in those buildings. Also its too expensive to fly actors out to NZ so they would have the actors get a 3D body scan and have it sent to their facility where they could create several…’Matt Damons’ was the example she used. They worked on District 9 as well.). They successfully made every part of it except for a few parts on the engine and the tires. She said it could drive at 100km/hour (60mph) but it was illegal to drive because..”I guess you cant drive a vehicle around that has a fake minigun mounted on the roof”. šŸ™‚ She mentioned that the movie got cancelled so they got to keep the vehicle. She did say one of their employees used it as his wedding vehicle for when he got married and he pulled up in that and surprised his wife. Lol

That room had many huge guns from movies and a miniature of the castles in LOTR. She said they called them ‘biggatures’ because they weren’t mini at all! There was also a 3D printer and a window showing a massive ‘printer’ that unlike 3D printers, which make objects by added, these huge..saws? Shaved away foam to create large light objects. She saw someone taking pictures and ran over to the French couple and had to go their their camera and actually delete the photos. Sheesh..I felt embarrassed for them as the woman had to go through her pictures and delete any she found.. Serious stuff!

The next room we were allowed to touch anything we wanted except a prosthetic booth. She said that the material that was used not only in Ghost in the Shell that Scarlett Johansson had to wear but also Frodo Baggins feet and the dwarfs noses didn’t allow any ventilation at all. So people would be sweating underneath and after it was worn, could never be worn again. If a dwarf needed a nose and had to film for 365 days, he needed. 365 noses. Crazy! There was also some cool robotics in that room. I pressed a button and a large ape with half his skin peeled off, to show the robotics underneath, moved his eyes and eyebrows and lips.

Finally the last room, where we can take pictures..

We finished up the tour and headed back around to the front of the building where I got a few closer pictures of the beast out front. (I should know their names..sadly I do not)

The booo-gairsssss!

The next tour was in a few minutes and a small bus pulled up. Matt was our tour guide.

This tour was about an old tv show called, ‘Thunderbirds Are Go”. They used all miniatures and hand crafted sets and puppets for the characters. He went over each of the characters, the history of them, the designs of each and their vehicle. They also made the movie, “Team America”. The only way I knew of the company. A pretty crazy movie with puppets. Maybe some of the older people reading might remember this show? We were also told not to take pictures in the beginning of the tour till he told us we could. Oh yea, he drove us about 2 blocks away where it started raining pretty hard and in the middle of the tour you could hear the wind and rain outside. This place was in a huge warehouse. We were only allowed to take pictures of the sets. My hand for scale..

They also had a camera setup to show on a tv how it would look coming through the camera lens.

My attempt lol:

Pretty huge sets!

I talked to Matt for a while during and after the tour. He was saying what a big Star Wars fan he was and I mentioned i worked on the newest one. I said that i had done work on the 3D and post production of a lot of movies but was looking into VR now. He was like, man you really should apply. They were starting to do work with a company called ‘Magic Leap’ in Florida and explained about VR (Virtual Reality) + AR (Augmented Reality)= MR (Mixed Reality). 99% of you wont know what it means, but its my dream job. Lol. Cutting edge tech! He seemed a little more impressed with my Hope Hike and that I was a survivor. Woot woot.

I have a friend named Kayla and we had been messaging back and forth lately. She LOVES LOTR SO MUCH that she named her cat Frodo. (A guys name in the movie). She was dying for me to get her something. I one I would either have to mail it to her or carry it around till the end of my hike. She understood and wanted one of the actual LOTR, ring. (The whole trilogy of these movies is based around this ring and the movie was filmed here in NZ.). Sooo I got her one and a necklace to wear around her neck as she asked (she paid me via paypal almost instantly). For my first and probably only NZ souvenir, I got one for myself also. šŸ™‚ Not too expensive.

While I made sure they bubble wrapped and made sure it was backpack safe, I looked up:

lol. Funny guy.

Oh as the bus was driving back from the last tour, we passed a building that didnt look like the rest. It was really nice! He said that building was created ONLY for post production of the NZ movies. *drool*. Peter Jackson (who kind of brought the LOTR characters to life and directed the movies was there. He pointed to a lovely reddish Tesla sitting out front.. Of course he drives one.. No i didnt get a picture sadly.

Anyway, I put the nice wrapped package of rings in my backpack and asked about the post-prod building. I was told by a few people I should just swing down there and stop in. Soooo I did. It was only a 5 minute walk. There’s my semi dirty hiking stuff with my 45 pound back on my back with things all attached and flopping around on it to the back…walking into a REALLY nice building, you know…with a Tesla parked out front. It was about 5pm as I saw some people heading to their cars. Kinda hoped to see Peter but it was only a day dream. I walk up to the receptionist and pull my Canadian card…I start talking by apologizing for my attire. Well… I did what I do best.. stutter, stammer, cant think of what I was there to talk about. It basically goes like this.. “I apologize for my attire, my name is Kevin Sanders and I’ve done a lot of post production work in Toronto, Canada… I just wanted to stop in see this place ” Derp. D…dumb der dee derp. I don’t care to share the rest because its only embarrassing. She kind of treats me how I feel…underdressed andI cant get my point across. She conveyed compassion as i mentioned I was hiking for Cancer patients, but mainly said I should just apply online and she could forward my card to HR. Cooool. I didnt even think that the card doesn’t have my email address on it and it wouldn’t be super easy to find me. In the .00000000001% chance someone from WETA is reading this..Email me! I would LOVE to work for you! :-D. ( And I awkwardly leave the nice building wanting to slap my self over and over… I head down the street. It’s almost 6pm and I have no idea how to get out of this city the fastest.

I just walk…still stuck on how stupid I felt. Then doubts. How will I ever get a ‘good’ job with how I am. I have so many REALLY good ideas about future tech but don’t know who or where or when I would be able to talk to the right person about them. Then a soft voice reassures me that if its meant to work out…it will. The Lord can open any door that no man can shut. At least I went in there and gave her the card. Though I figure she threw it in the trash as soon as I left. Leh sigh.

I eventually stopped at a bus stop..When the bus pulled up I just asked him to take me to the bus station. I dunno i guess I could figure out where to go from there. About 30 minutes later he drops us all off at the bus station, the same station that I was taken to after the shuttle brought us to. It was also the train station. No idea where to go I go in search of a train /bus map.

It seems the train runs north. I look at my campground app. I figure I should get off the train in an hour to camp. I choose a stop about an hour away. Upper Hut. I look up and see ‘long distance’ above a teller window. She would be a good person to ask. So I walk over and confirm with her my plan and the correct stop. I buy the ticket and head towards the correct gate.

The train is leaving in 4 minutes. Right on time I thought. Most of the seats are taken. I set my bag down in the section between cars and stand there, assuming Ill have to stand for the next hour.

A nice young woman named Isabelle (i think) moves her bag off the seat and offered it to me. I appreciate it ask her her name and just casually chit chat. She was on her way back from Wellington to one of the few stops in the Upper Hut. She lives there but just got a job with her degree teaching preschool? Or kindergarten? It’s only her first week but the commute back and forth sucks so she is looking for a place to live in Wellington. We talk till her stop. I handed her a card earlier. Nice girl. It’s good that she’s using her degree, because I know many people who have jobs not using theirs.

Anywho, I stop is here and I hop off. I look at my hour to walk to the campground? It’s 7pm…I know most campgrounds offices close at 8. Gulp. I need to get there faster. There are a bunch of buses around. I try to use maps to get directions by transit. Nope. Maps hasn’t downloaded transit directions for here. So I open the app ‘moveit’ that I got in Toronto. It understands where I’m at and tells me to walk down to Stop C and get on bus 101. Ok well I see bus 101 pull up so I hop on ask for change to pay “where you goin?” Show him on my gps. “Nope that’s another bus, try the stop ahead”. Confused I hop off. There are people waiting for a bus up there…my app told me to get on that one. That was stop B though.. I look at my phone I guess I need to walk a little further. I see a sign down the street a little bit. It says something like “This used to be stop C but has changed due to lose demand”. Welllll I guess this app isn’t correct..

The other bus pulls up..I hop in and ask if he goes to this road..He’s an older guy trying to look at my phone. He says no he doesn’t. A guy on the bus asked “are you tryin got get to that Holiday Campground?” Yea! I guess the driver recognized the name of the campground. “Ohh I know what you’re talking about now” Guy: “You’re on the right bus”. If it werent for that guy I don’t know what I would have done.

A couple dollars and 20 minutes later I get ready to hop off at a stop and tell the bus driver thanks as I’m looking at my iPhone I should be there.. He stops me “You want off at the next stop. That’s where the campground is”. Alright, sounds good! Just as he as he says, there is a sign around a corner that says the name of the campground. Thank you thank you.

I walk down a windy road and see some farm animals?

A goat and a pony.. mkay…

I check in to the office and ask about tent spots. The lady says “Yup! That’s all we got left!” Well alright! I pay a small amount and she gives me a map of the grounds and says where the kitchen and bathrooms and showers are. I look around the tent area and there are a few tents setup but its a pretty large area. One big tent has a baby crying very loudly so I try to go as far away from that tent as I can. It’s funny how I have gotten more picky about where to setup my tent. High rocks or signs that my pegs will drive into the ground instead of hit rocks, grass instead of dirt. Sheltered from the wind. Also determining where’s the sun comes up as to dry off my tent hopefully before I pack it up. Also do i want my tent long ways or the other way..which way is the wind coming from? Also when I set my boots out under the rain-fly cover thing, is there a nice spot for them. Is there a place in the morning to stretch my wet tent out to dry and not be on the ground or a place to sit to tie up my boots… Etc etc. I take about 10 minutes to pick a spot.

I unpack and setup my tent. I now have certain places I put things inside my tent. All the bags and packages from unpacking all go in a corner. My backpack in the other corner same side. Straps up and connected so I don’t roll on them..Trekking poles against the far side. There are two pockets at either end. I put my headlamp, my face mask, my wallet, and my earplugs in one pocket and any maps or papers in the far pocket. My sleeping bag, mattress and pillow are closest to the door so I don’t have to crawl over anything to exit. As I take out my power banks I put them beside me so when I wake up and want to grab my phone, I know where it is. It’s obviously not my first rodeo..

I go to the kitchen to cook dinner. Some noodles and muffins and bread with a half melted Kit Kat for desert. Time for bed. Can barely keep my eyes open. I think about the checkout time at 10am…Maybe I’ll wake up early enough….nah, I had too much to say about nerding out that I knew I wouldn’t finish. I would just have to write a 2 dayer again..

Funny male tidbit about NZ..the bathroom urinals are like pig troughs..

I figure Ill head back to the train station tm and see how far I can get on it..sounds like a good idea.


What’s really interesting…. the people that have appeared in my life to direct me where to go and the next steps I should take.

…I have never come to a dead end..or a wrong turn.. or bad advice or even out of my 10000 steps on rocky slippery surfaces.. 1 slipped step that ‘could have been bad’. (Maybe tm could be considered one of those? I don’t think so)

“Not all who wander are lost”


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