Wellington Travel Guide
Wellington Airport isn't the only landmark in New Zealand being taken over by giant characters from The Hobbit.
In anticipation of the world premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, huge silhouettes of 14 characters from the movie have been installed on the fifth story of the New Zealand Post House, a 12-story office tower at 7 Waterloo Quay, Wellington, New Zealand.
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New Zealand has been gearing up for a big Hobbit adventure for some time, from the national airline donning Hobbit costumes for a fun take on a safety video to tours specially designed for fans of elves and wizards. Now, the movie fun starts when people land in NZ to visit Middle Earth.
Ahead of the November 28th NZ release of the first film from the new Tolkien trilogy, Wellington Airport is getting in the mood and tarting up their terminal in a big way. Imagine enjoying a meat pie in the food court or saying final good-byes and, hanging over your head with a giant's proportions, is a massive sculpture of Gollum, the scrawny, pale creature from the films. The installation features the character grabbing to eat the sweet, juicy fish (also sculptures) as his mouth bubbles in creepy excitement.
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As part of our Airport Lounge Series, we’ve already taken you inside Air New Zealand’s expansive Koru Lounge at LAX, as well as the flagship international Koru Lounge in Auckland. But our return trip to the U.S. actually originated in Wellington…so naturally we checked out the Koru Lounge there as well, and here’s our inside look with photo gallery and video walk-through:
Airport lounges are a way to escape from the hectic ways of travel, and they’re also a great way to get away from the riffraff as you wait for your flight. The problem is that they’re expensive, and even if you buy a day pass, you’re usually stuck visiting just one lounge.
The Wellington International Airport has a new idea that we can get behind. Earlier this month they opened their new Wild at Heart Lounge, and it’s available to all passengers regardless of frequent flyer status or airline preference. Of course it’s only open to those willing to pay for the pleasure of the luxury and convenience. It’ll be just $25 NZD—about $18 in US funds—and they’re running a little discount through March to get everyone excited.
Airlines are only getting started selling all the available space in their cabins to pad their bottom lines with ad dollars. But Air New Zealand's newest campaign is casting in a way that makes us suspect they know where their message will be impossible to ignore--by using nature's billboard.
The carrier is currently seeking people with shaved heads to carry temporary-tattoo advertising, stealing from the grand tradition of Goldenpalace.com to announce its check-in changes. The biggest of these is the move from a weight-based baggage system to a piece-based system; first bag is free up to 25 kilograms, with a NZ$15 ($10) charge for the second bag, NZ$50 for the third and NZ$150 for the fourth and up.
What does this have to do with some dude (or lady)'s bald pate? Beats us, because by the time you're stuck on the plane staring at it it's too late to repack. What's next, banner ads for the whale tail?
[Photo: nicholas lee nicholas]
Though Heathrow's T5 and Beijing's T3 are getting all the press, there's another world capital that's getting an airport update. Wellington has unveiled its new international terminal, called The Rock. It should be finished by the end of 2009.
The first stage of the project wrapped at the end of 2007, adding security and customs lanes, shopping and jet bridge improvements for international flights. The second half of the work will add more departure lounge seating, more bathrooms and a couple more international gates.
Of course airport officials hope the building's design will make it a destination:
The airport's South Coast location is represented by the inside aesthetics and outside shell of the building. Colored fragments of glass in the roof fissure let in a warm, natural light by day and backlighting at night creates a glow which will be seen from the air.
We shouldn't even need to mention it'll all be environmentally sound and heavy on green design elements. And, hey, it'll have free WiFi!
But like Canberra in Australia or Brasilia in Brazil, it's one of those capital cities that nobody really knows about. Until now. Statistics from New Zealand's Regional Visitor Monitor are suggesting that Wellington is increasing its popularity as a destination--though they might be going too far by suggesting it's becoming a "must see" city).
Taking a look at the stats, though, we do feel tempted to drop in. In the past year, Wellington's reputation as a place to socialize and have fun has increased from 6 percent to 42 percent--whatever these percentages mean, the jump is definitely high. Visitors say there is good food and wine to be had in Wellington and that it has an appealing cityscape. Sure, you might still have to land at its risky airport, but perhaps that's the adventure travel part of your visit.
[Photo: Team Frosick]
For the next couple of days we are doing a quick fly-over of the world's most dangerous airports. And by dangerous we mean formidable, adventurous, and fear inspiring. Know a stomach dropping, palm sweat inducing airport we should check out? Send it along.
Jaunted tipster Tim has seen his share of airports, and he wanted us to check out the Wellington New Zealand strip:
Similar to Hamilton Island is several respects, eg landing between hills with the sea at both ends of the runway. Great to land in Wellington when its windy, which it often is.
Want more? This airport's slogan is "Wild at Heart". Furthermore, on Friday nights the airport showcases local musicians in the terminal, and last year the airport put out a mix CD featuring songs from said musicians.
Oh, yeah, and there is a project in the works to lengthen the runway to keep up with aviation standards.
Click more to check out some video footage of planes landing at WLG to get an idea of what it is like to land in this skinny wind tunnel.