Monday, April 4, 2016

Wellington, Te Papa, Weta Studios and another treasured Air B&B...

Hello Everyone,

We arrived into Wellington a few days ago and new that we had a bit of a drive out to our new home for 3 nights.  Wellington is also known as Windy Wellington and I can see where it gets its name. The house we rented was on the outskirts outside of Wellington about 35 minutes.  What we didn't know was what a treasure it is.  As it turns out we ended up renting a little old house that has been completely renovated beautifully.  It used to be an old military house for the miltary men that used to guard the coast in Makara.  The owners, Jill and Jack live up on top of the hill behind the house and as it turns out own 100 acres of beautiful farm land and raise my new Favorite Cow... The highland cow.  They are so beautiful with their long bangs (Dasson).   They were imported from Scotland and have been bred to be incredibly gentle and intelligent.  The dasson was there to help protect their eyes from the harsh weather of Scotland and it helps them here in Wellington because it can be very, very windy and cold here. You can actually train them to do little tricks and they have been known to be able to open a gate or two and wonder the forest land behind the property for a week before coming home.

Jack is a retired commercial fisherman/Scientist and raise Highland Cows as a hobby with Jill.  Jill used to work for HP and now is the secretary of the New Zealand Bamboo society.  They are both so lovely and welcoming and patient with the kids.  It was truly a wonderful surprise for us to be able to go up to their property and help feed the cows tonight.  So fun to spend some time with them.  I can't say enough of wonderful it has been traveling New Zealand and going to the off the beaten track places and really meeting the amazing people we have.

 This is the mercedes for Jack... The kids had the best time riding up the hill in it.

 Amazing views from their property....Windy but truly a very tranquil and quiet spot.
I just turned around and snapped a picture facing the other way.. they own most of what you can see besides the windmills and then down the hill to the house.

There were two things we had on our agenda for Wellington.  One was the Te Papa Museum and the other was the Weta studio tour.  We were able to do both along with a recommendation from Jill to go to the Wellington Wind farm and stand under one of the huge wind turbines.

Sunday was an all day event with the Te Papa National Museum.  You really can spend at least a day if not another half a day.  The museums are so well done and so interactive for the kids that we usually don't hear, "Ugh another museum, we don't want to go to another museum!" but we more than often hear, "awesome what is this one about"  I love that.  The Kiwi's are really good at their presentation of material for all ages.  We really have a good time.
Representation of an extinct Moa Bird

Colosal Squid

How they used to navigate.  This part of the museum really captured me because there is no way I think I could have done this.  They would fill water in the bottom of the coconut shell about 1/4 way full and then they would have a hole drilled in the top and on the opposite side another hole just above the water line.  Once they lined the particular navigating star up with the hole and it would reflect through the bottom hole they new they were on the right latitude and would continue on that path.  UGH.. um what happens when it is cloudy?  Oh yay they would then just keep on the same direction of the swell they were on.  

The best exhibit by far was the Gallipoli World War I Exhibit. They describe the exhibit as a" ground-breaking exhibition that tells the story of the Gallipoli campaign in World War I through the eyes and words of eight ordinary New Zealanders who found themselves in extraordinary circumstances.  Each is captured frozen in a moment of time on a monumental scale – 2.4 times human size. The large-scale sculptures took a staggering 24,000 hours to create, and countless hours were spent researching their rich histories.  Cutting-edge technology was used to create 3-D maps, projections, miniatures, models, dioramas, and interactive experiences to bring this story to life.  In total, 2,779 Kiwis lost their lives on Gallipoli, and many others were scarred for ever. Gallipoli: The scale of our war takes you to the core of this defining event." These statues were made in collaboration with Weta Studios that made all the props for the lord of the rings movie, and many more.  Just to put the hair on one of these statues heads took over 7 weeks alone because they would put one hair in at a time.

Every possible detail you can imagine was so life like, at times you would expect them to get up and take a bow.
I can honestly say that it was probably one of the most memorable exhibits I have been in a very long time and I think it had an impact on all the kids as well.  With the super large replications of the people in war situations and the way the information was laid out through visual movies, charts, models, pictures, and interactive displays.  Everyone could interact and get something to remember from it.  At some points it was a little too graphic for the small girls and I found Alina walking around the statues searching and searching for their wounds and how they were hurt.  

Other times I would find Amaia off on her own listening to the recounts of war strategy and how the troops had progressed and then recessed from the front lines. 

They also were able to make their own red poppies and write well wishes and thoughts on them and then leave them in the last statue display as you left the exhibit.  

The information presented was not only on war loss and strategy but also on how they lived, what they had to eat, letters they would write and receive, then of course the replications of trenches you walked through with video screens that recreated another opening to a connected trench with actual video playing of the combat and soldiers running through them toward you.  The sounds and lighting were very dramatic.  I am so glad we didn't miss this one and the kids were able to really absorb, explore and try to imagine what it was like for a soldier to be in the war.  Truly horrendous, horrible and terrifying conditions. 

The next day we headed to the wind farm to feel a little science and see one of these wind turbines up close.  We found out that 65% of New Zealand's power comes from renewable resources.  Geo thermal is 15%  and not sure of the break up of hydro, solar and wind but 65% is amazing.  It was incredibly cold and windy at the top of the hill so we didn't stay too long but tried to get as much of the information read to the kids as possible.  Amaia came away with her own fact from all that she read.  She found out that when they were creating the wind turbines on the hills there were farms scattered at the base of them raising sheep and cattle.  They said that there was a wild dog that had been killing and eating the stock and so the farmers at the time had called in the New Zealand army to come and hunt this wild dog down.  Mission completed.

 Beautiful view of the west coast line outside of Windy Wellington anyway...

Then we zipped off to Weta Studios for our 12:30 tour.  This was interesting but I wish you were able to really go through more of the studio and see what they are working on and how they made the products.  I understand the sensitivity with confidentiality, blah blah blah and rights of ownership but it would be nice if it was possible to see a little more than the one room you are in and them showing you the products that were made and the movies they were made for.  I am not sure I would recommend this tour to anyone, unless you are a super huge fan... The Weta Studio was cool in away because it gave you an appreciation of how long it takes to stage a movie and to make sure things are proportionally right, ratios, scales all that... it was only an hour long at least, so I guess it was okay.  Not my cup of tea though I was pretty disappointed. :@(  After talking with the kids, Tristan and Alexia thought it was really neat and liked seeing all the props and how they were all made with expanding foam, plastic and 3d printing.  Alexia I think was still looking for Legolas.  The guide said we missed him by a day... Just joking.

Alina wouldn't take her eyes off of smeagol just in case....
Off to Hamilton to our friend Celia's house... I am so looking forward to my coffee on the porch over looking the hillside.  It is also our 17th anniversary ... and we get to go horse riding with the kids for 3 hours on the beach, the girls get to ride little horses and we get the big ones.... It is supposed to be a sunny sunny day... I am so excited.

Oh ya... I also found a new possible profession when I get home.

 If this one doesn't work out I can always sell below..

 Our house would just look like below...

Check out what is in the window on the right.  Scarred me for a second.

Hugs and Love,


1 comment:

  1. Loved the photos guys. So nice to have you visit and would love to see you all back. Jill and Jack