Helicopters hovered in an epic battle of alien domination over Wellington last week, as a cult online game went next-level.
Makara recieving station was a key strategic location in the smartphone game Ingress, which pits the ''Enlightened'' or pro-alien faction against the anti-alien ''Resistance".
The two groups compete to capture or block real-life triangulation ''portals''.
The game, invented by Google in 2012, now counts hundreds of New Zealand players, and more than a million worldwide.
Wellington was chosen as a key point-scoring city in a worldwide battle or ''anomaly'' over the weekend.
Resistance member Philip Dowie decided to foil his Wellington enemies by capturing the Makara portals on Wednesday by helicopter, since the station is closed on ground-level for a two-month lambing season.
''There's a certain level of crazy that you need to go and do something like that,'' the 31-year-old Johnsonville software developer said.
The flight cost Dowie and fellow Resistance agent Carson Thomas-Boon $575, money wasted when the Enlightened sent their own helicopter to capture Makara on Friday.
Dowie was at Wellington Railway Station slipping some electronic ''keys'' to a South Island agent when he saw the helicopter return to base, and a ping on his phone a second later confirmed Makara was lost.
Enlightened agent Mark Byrne said his team pooled the cash for a ride after becoming jealous of Dowie's helicopter photos, shared publicly online.
Both men hope, for their wallets' sake, that battle remains ground-level in the future.
The battle did not relent over the weekend, with Dowie and Thomas-Boon driving to the Wairarapa on Friday for a two-day stakeout of key portals at Cape Palliser and the Pinnacles.
The stakeout was only meant to last one day, but snow closed the Rimutaka Hill Road that night, so the pair slept in their car and were woken by a concerned farmer on Saturday morning.
''It was freaking cold,'' Dowie said.
The pair's efforts to capture portals were thwarted by an Enlightened team member who had tramped three hours into the Tararuas to block their link.
The two teams faced off at Cape Palliser lighthouse, where Enlightened members were waiting hidden in the bush for their rivals.
The worst that happened was some obscene drawings left in the dust on Dowie's teammate's car, he said.
''There's no place in the game for hatred; it's not that serious.''
- The Dominion Post
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