New Zealand tourism gears up for Hobbit-hype

Not since the Lord of the Rings trilogy came to an end has New Zealand tourism garnered as much attention when record numbers of visitors made the trip and the industry is ready to welcome an inspired crowd once more.

Images of the films' iconic locations and stars have been splashed across the capital; Martin Freeman, making his first appearance as Bilbo Baggins in the Hobbit trilogy, features prominently on most promotional material, ranging from postage stamps and coins to the sides of office blocks and even a plane.

"This is proper, epic film making… I don’t know any actors, apart from those who worked on The Lord of the Rings who’ve made a film that’s this big or taken this long," Freeman told the Dominion Post.

"I certainly don’t think I’ll ever do another film that’s like, or as long, as this again."

The film premieres Wednesday 28, November when many of the film's stars including Cate Blanchett, Elijah Wood and Hugo Weaving will descend on Wellington to walk the red carpet and attend the premiere.

While the release of a new trilogy is likely to set new blockbuster records and win more records for director Peter Jackson and co, it is the impact on tourism which has given New Zealand true Hobbit fever.

The spectacular and breathtaking landscapes which featured prominently as backdrops in The Lord of the Rings trilogy propelled New Zealand to the forefront of world tourism and officials are clearly hoping lightning will strike twice.

Marketing the country as '100% Middle Earth' Tourism New Zealand launched a massive campaign to promote the film's release earlier this month.

The first film, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, will be released worldwide in December, with the second instalment, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, following in December 2013 and the final chapter, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, will be released in summer 2014.

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