Sunday, May 8, 2011

Saturday, May 7, 2011 (Wellington, N.Z.)

OVER SOME VERY MISTY MOUNTAINS: We headed to Martinborough (about a 90-minute drive) to visit some vineyards and were rewarded by some great conversations and truly wonderful wines. Our third stop was at Vynfields, which featured a house that was originally built about 1905 in Wellington. The vineyard owners had it dismantled and trucked over the hills and planted amid their vines (above). The leaded glass and stained glass remained intact.
One of the views hints at the fact that this part of New Zealand offered director Peter Jackson numerous options for the setting of his Misty Mountains for the Lord of the Rings/Hobbit films, which has shooting sites peppered all over the country.
(We learned that director Jackson recorded crowd noises at Westpac Stadium--where we saw rugby on Friday--to create the sounds of orcs at Helms Deep. He is evidently working nearby and keeping an official blog on his work on the long-awaited Hobbit.)
We very much enjoyed the dolce wine at Schubert, which also featured a sign crafted from vine pieces (right) that duplicated each letter in the winery's name (only the "e" was manipulated). We also really enjoyed our visits to Vynfields (Kaye McAuley), Alana Estate (Alana Smart) and Ata Rangi (Bron de Grey). I can't really recall the names of the two others.
On the way back, we stuck our head into Old Saint Paul's, one of the truly amazing wooden structures in New Zealand.

A BIT OF THEATER: In the evening, we took in a comedy show called "Did I Believe It?" (It was reviewed in Auckland.) The four-person troupe performed on a raised floor in front of a bar in an upstairs room in a building on Queen's Wharf. This show featured about one hour of acting and a lengthy intermission during which audience members imbibed vodka, which was included in the price of the tickets. The show was apparently underwritten by 42 Below vodka, which is made in New Zealand. There were some good gaqs, good impressions, good physical humor (e.g., slapstick); maybe too much raunchiness--a safe refuge for many comedians. (All PC controls were switched in the OFF position. News Flash: If you walk into a BAR to see a PLAY, leave your sensibilities in the safe hands of the bouncer.) But we enjoyed the show, which was attended by a group of about 20 employees of a construction firm who had NO IDEA what they were in for. Still, the audience (which was large for the space, about 110) was appreciative. (Vodka can help with that.)
The show has drawn some flak for its apparent similarities to a British TV parody show, as discussed in a Wellingtonista blog from April.

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