Day 16, – Wellington NZ — December 17, 2003

The longest day begins. We took the ferry from Nelson to Wellington today. I’ve never been on such a large boat before. The seas were a bit violent but you could barely feel it. I spent most of the transit time reading and “resting my eyes”. I knew it was going to be a long day, but I had no idea just how long.
We arrived in Wellington and caught a taxi back to the Richmond where we’d stayed during our previous stay here. I can’t say I’d recommend the place. There was a particular mildew smell that made sleep a challenge, not to mention that our bathroom didn’t have a door. That made having visitors over quite difficult.
We had to finish some last-minute shopping and email so we went downtown and walked our sore little feet off. We went to Te Papa, a large museum on the waterfront. We contributed greatly to their gift shop. Not only did they have some cool stuff, they had a dedicated shop just to Lord of the Rings stuff. Then we had to stop at a store and pickup another bag to carry all of our loot home with us.
We headed back to the room and tried to get a little sleep. It was still afternoon but we had our tickets to the Return of the King premier at midnight at the Embassy Theatre. I think we managed a few hours rest before we met up with Annie and walked downtown for dinner. Our last full day in New Zealand and we found the best little restaurant tucked away in a corner. It was a nice, relaxing meal before the big event.
Appetites satiated, we crossed the street and went into the upstairs lobby of the Embassy and waited for our group. As soon as it was time we found our seats and watched the last part of this epic trilogy. There were a lot of emotions wrapped up here at the end of our trip, finally seeing the last leg of the movie that had partially inspired our journey. I think I can best call it a bittersweet moment. We were enjoying the time and company but there’s an undeniable feeling of home that we were sorely missing.
After the movie we spilled into the streets and did our best to avoid the television reporters there to capture the event. I failed. I managed to avoid talking but I was rather prominently caught behind someone being interviewed, looking somewhat like a deer in headlights I imagine. Once the camera was off I was able to escape to the safety of a dark corner as we waited for a cab. About four in the morning we stumbled into bed and got what little sleep we could before the ten o’clock checkout that morning.

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