We know that many people who visit New Zealand come here specifically because they saw “The Lord of the Rings” movies that have been filmed here.
We read “The Hobbit” aloud to our children when they were younger and went on to avidly read “The Lord of the Rings.” Even so, seeing one movie was enough for us. We knew many attractions in Wellington are based on spin offs from the movie industry built on the Tolkien books – and we just didn’t bother to seek out those attractions.
In the end we discovered (happily), these attractions can not be avoided entirely. On arrival at the Wellington airport for our flight to Queenstown behold Gandalf! Wand in hand, he flew on an eagle suspended over our heads inside the terminal.
We picked up some very yummy corn cakes and a salmon bagel and snatched a table under the eagle so that we could take it all in. When we finished, the grandest display of all was centered in the concourse: an enormous, slimy, translucent Gollum dipped his head “underwater” (as if the airport terminal was a body of water) and reached out his dirty hand to swoop up a fish. Not what we like to see in a food court, but then we’re just getting acquainted with the Kiwi sense of humor. In a few weeks, we’ll “get it.”
We spent a lot of time studying this amazing scene. Little “air” bubbles floated up from his mouth. The details of Gollum’s face, the blood vessels and the little straggly hairs brought the character to, in a word, “life.”
We’re big fans of art in airports and believe this may be the most interesting large-scale artwork we’ve seen in an airport that represents its contemporary city. So, in the end, we enjoyed seeing a “The Lord of the Rings” attraction after all.
Note: A few days after we flew out of Wellington, an earthquake shook the city and a second eagle, hung next to the one Gandalf was flying on, fell to the floor.