Wellington, Jan 13, 2003

22:26 - Wellington - We arrived in Picton before 11am, returned the car a "day" early, and boarded the 11:30am Lynx back to Wellington (the Cook Strait was extremely choppy, with 3m swells. most of the ride included shrieks of both delight and light terror from the passengers), giving us the entire afternoon to explore the city. Luckily, as we were driving by we happened to see that the Te Papa Museum by the harbor was having a Lord of the Rings Exhibit; it turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip! The exhibit featured comprehensive video specials (many of which are also in the special edition DVD), props, costumes, miniatures, concept/test artwork, and weaponry/armor, organized by character and peoples. Norm was so excited by the exhibit that he jumped up and down a few times just outside the main entryway, as we were leaving. :) The production scale of the trilogy still boggles my mind. Naturally, after we finished going through the exhibit, we walked over to Reading Cinemas and caught the 7:00pm show. We tried to see it at the Embassy, but the next show didn't start until 8:55pm, so we were satisfied just to get photos of the floating ring and of Gollum reaching over the top of the theater's façade. Downtown Wellington is really neat! There are diverse shops and restaurants along a long strip, and near the water the city gallery, library, and other official buildings surround a modern plaza that radiates welcome with its open architecture. Tomorrow is our last full day in New Zealand! It's always sad to leave a place without feeling like I've had enough time to explore, but a few rather stressful things have happened while I've been away, and it will be nice to be home to take care of them.