WETA

Welcome to New Zealand, now give me back my precious!

In one episode of Flight of the Conchords, HBO's long since canceled show about a New Zealand folk duo living in New York, a travel poster in the consulate office reads, "New Zealand: Like Lord of the Rings."

As if the most well-known thing about this proud island nation were its role as the setting for the Lord of the Rings film trilogy.

But maybe it is. Life began imitating art late last month in Wellington International Airport, which has been renamed "the Middle of Middle-Earth" as the city prepares for the premiere of Peter Jackson's first installment of The Hobbit.

The airport has installed a 13-meter statue of Gollum hanging from the roof of the terminal, grasping for fishes above the cafe area. The replica was designed by the visual effects company WETA, founded by Richard Taylor, Jamie Selkirk, and director Peter Jackson in 1993.

Top image courtesy WETA. Other images by Steve Unwin.

HT Laughing Squid.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A Soviet map of London, labeled in Russian.
    Maps

    The Soviet Military Secretly Mapped the Entire World

    These intricate, curious maps were supposed to be destroyed. The ones that remain reveal a fascinating portrait of how the U.S.S.R. monitored the world.

  2. A scene from Hey Arnold! is pictured.
    Life

    Even Hey Arnold's Neighborhood Is Gentrifying Now

    Series creator Craig Bartlett explains how he built the cartoon city that every ‘90s kid dreamed of living in.

  3. Design

    The Weird Geography of Population Density

    What if people were mapped like mountains?

  4. Charts

    The Evolution of Urban Planning in 10 Diagrams

    A new exhibit from the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association showcases the simple visualizations of complex ideas that have changed how we live.

  5. Maps

    Mapping Where Europe's Population Is Moving, Aging, and Finding Work

    Younger people are fleeing rural areas, migrating northward, and having fewer children. Here’s how that’s changing the region.