Gandalf swoops into Wellington Airport

Gandalf - one of the most loved characters from 'The Hobbit Trilogy' has swooped into Wellington airport.

Film fever is gripping Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city, once again as the world waits for the next instalment of The Hobbit Trilogy, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, due for release on December 13, 2013.

In November 2012 visitors to Wellington Airport were plunged into Middle-earth reality as they came face-to-face with a mammoth sculpture of Gollum catching fish. In 2013 visitors will be greeted by a giant Gandalf.


Gandalf - one of the most loved characters from the Sir Peter Jackson directed The Hobbit Trilogy - sits atop one of two Great Eagles, giving the wizard a birds-eye view of the runway. The Great Eagles are also helping Gandalf bring news to Wellington - also known as ‘The Middle of Middle-earth’.

Weighing in at one tonne each with a wingspan of 15 metres, the sculptures have been developed by special effects gurus Weta Workshop and Wellington Airport to accompany Gollum in welcoming visitors to the Wellington region and New Zealand.

The creation has been designed and facilitated by Weta Workshop’s creative lead Richard Taylor and Workshop Supervisor Rob Gillies to create yet another unforgettable experience in Wellington Airport.

Evocative image

Richard Taylor, who was overseeing the project said, "We were thrilled to return and create another installation for Wellington Airport. What could be more suitable for an airport in Middle-earth than Gandalf the Grey atop a Great Eagle swooping into the terminal, such an evocative image from The Hobbit and a fantastic and challenging project for our artists to design and build."

"We are delighted to work with Weta to produce another magnificent sculpture welcoming visitors into Wellington. We’re proud to show our support for the movies - they have done a lot for New Zealand tourism. With Gollum being viewed around the globe and tourists still talking photos of him, we expect Gandalf and the Eagles will make quite a stir," Wellington Airport Chief Executive Steve Sanderson said.

Art-directed by Richard Taylor and Rob Gillies, the sculptures were 3D modelled into the airport display space by Jamin Vollebregt. It was then realised by a team of Weta Workshop 3D modellers, sculptors, model makers, painters, engineers and other specialists using a variety of large-sculpture technologies developed in-house at Weta Workshop.

Key facts about the installation:

  • Two eagles.
  • 1,000 feathers molded and cast.
  • Longest feathers measure 2.4 metres.
  • Wingspan of birds is 15 metres.
  • Installation weighs just under 2 tonnes.
  • Eight cables suspend each eagle from the main terminal ceiling.