Wellington: The land of hobbits

With the first installment of The Hobbit hitting theaters on Dec. 14, viewers will once again be treated to the beautiful scenery of Wellington, New Zealand on the big screen. This hilly Victorian jewel should be on the travel bucket list of Tolkien fans, and anyone who appreciates stunning landscapes.

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    The Wellington Blown Away sign sits on Miramar Peninsula at the airport, celebrating Wellington's epic windiness. Chicago has average wind speeds of 11 mph. Blustery Wellington? 18 mph.
    Nadine Jolie
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    Floriditas Cafes is a favorite brunch spot for Wellingtonians. When he was in town filming The Hobbit, star Martin Freeman was often spotted there.
    Nadine Jolie
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    Lord of the Rings iconic "Get Off the Road" was shot in this Mt. Victoria forest. Tourists recreate the scene daily, egged on by tour guides.
    Nadine Jolie
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    Weta Cave film museum is attached to co-owner Peter Jackson's digital fX production studio Weta Workshop, featuring original and replica props like this life-size statue of Gandalf from Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.
    Nadine Jolie
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    Cocktail-recipe wallpaper at hideaway Motel Bar on Forresters Lane, one of Wellington's top-notch, retro watering holes. To access it, you must go down an alleyway and up a back stairwell.
    Nadine Jolie
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    Roxy Cinema in Miramar--known locally as "Wellywood" because of its strong Hollywood connection--is New Zealand's first purpose-built 3D cinema. Like so much in Wellington, and particularly in Miramar, it owes its existence to co-owner Peter Jackson.
    Nadine Jolie
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    Climb (or drive!) to the top of Mt. Victoria and you'll be rewarded with stunning views of Wellington and Oriental Bay.  
    Nadine Jolie
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    The airy interior of Te Papa National Museum, celebrating New Zealand's history and, in particular, its Maori heritage. A recent exhibit shown here, Kahu Ora - Living Cloaks, explores traditional Maori cloaks over the centuries.
    Nadine Jolie
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    A down-under tradition, Flat White coffee traditionally features minimal foam in the shape of a decoration, such as this heart. The latte is notoriously strong, with not one but two shots of espresso.
    Nadine Jolie
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    Wellington's Museum Hotel is located in the heart of the CBD on Cable Street, directly across from the Waterfront and Te Papa Museum, and a 3 minute walk from Wellington's best shops, restaurants and bars. Its lobby is chock-full of rotating art installations, like this dress, sculpture, painting and motorcycle.
    Nadine Jolie
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    Despite Wellington's year-round winds and rain, the city prides itself on being active and athletic. Here, a stop on the Wellington Writers' Walk commemorates Lauris Edmond's Wellington ethos: "It's true you can't live here by chance. You have to do and be, not simply watch or even describe. This is the city of action, the world headquarters of the verb."
    Nadine Jolie
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    The very first scene from the Lord of the Rings was shot here in 1999, just off Alexandra Road on Mt. Victoria. Peter Jackson and his crew tried to conceal their purpose with decoy trucks, but locals quickly caught on and word spread. Today, tours with fans from all over the world run several times a day.
    Nadine Jolie
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    A giant statue of the character Gandalf on top of the Embassy Theater in Wellington, New Zealand.
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