An Unexpected Journey… to Weta Cave
Hey guys, you may not be aware of this but there’s this movie coming out; The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Apparently it’s a pretty big deal? Some local bloke called Sir Peter Jackson is putting it together.
I’m pulling your leg, of course. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is premiering on November 28th right here in Wellington, or The Middle of Middle-earth, I should say.
I’m pretty excited about it, to say the least. To soak up some of my excess enthuasiam for the impending movie I trotted off to Weta Cave on Weka Street in Miramar.
Now, I’m a massive fan of both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit books, so I was keen to go and have a look at some props from The Lord of The Rings trilogy to get amped up all over again for Sir Peter Jackson’s latest masterpiece.
Weta Cave ajoins Weta Workshop – where a whole bunch of geniuses make up all the props for movies like King Kong, District 9, and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – so naturally I geeked out a bit, knowing that all the amazing weapons and props you see in The Lord of the Rings trilogy are made right next door. I was grinning like a total plonker before I even walked through the door.
Two important things you need to know before entering the building. Firstly, it’s free to go in and look around, which I thought was tremendous. Secondly, the Weta Cave is a movie nerd’s nirvana. Weta have helped create movies like The Adventures of Tintin and Avatar, as well as the flicks I have previously mentioned, so there are some awesome props to look at. There’s also a whole bunch of fantastic collectible bits and bobs that you’ll want to take away with you. I could quite happily kit my house out with all the totally brilliant Tintin posters and figurines – if only the girlfriend had the same impeccable taste in interior design as I do.
At the back of the relatively small space is a cabinet full of swords, a massive figurine of Gandalf, and a giant lifesize model of Lurtz (the lead Urukhai who Aragorn kills at the end of The Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring – duh.) What the heck else do you want?
They also have a great mini-museum in the Weta Cave where you can go and check out props and stills from Avatar, District 9 and The Adventures of Tintin. There’s also a film that they put on at times through the day, which gives you an exclusive glimpse into what happens next door at Weta Workshop.
“We wanted to give fans a reward for making the effort to come and visit”, General Manager, Tim Launder tells me. “The film isn’t on YouTube or anywhere else on the net. It’s exclusive to the Cave”.
I had a good yarn to Tim about products that are available for fans that want to take a piece of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey home with them. “There are some beautiful authentic prop replicas available, which have been handcrafted by Daniel Reeve, who was the artist who made the props you see on screen.”
The Weta Cave is what you’d expect any decent cave to be like. It’s quite small, quite dark, and full of treasures. Speaking of which, I managed to get the old man something quite excellent for his birthday. There’s a great collection of books in Weta Cave, amongst which are some bloody cracking concept art books by John Howe. He’s the man who takes descriptions off the page and turns them into living, breathing landscapes and props in the movies. Inside a signed copy of one of his books I found (actually a lady at the counter tipped me off) a sketch of Gandalf. I thought this would be appropriate because Dad can sometimes be wise, but most of the time he’s a cantankerous old bugger. He probably won’t get it, but when he carks it the book will probably come back to me.
Go and check out Weta Cave. I urge you. I implore you, because it’s just cool.
AND whilst you’re about town go and check out the airport and New Zealand Post Building or take a peek at the photos on Wellington’s Facebook page. Wellington really is turning into the Middle of Middle-earth.