New Zealand’s film star landscapes are set for increased international attention as the second instalment of The Hobbit Trilogy, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug readies for release, and Air New Zealand - the official airline of Middle-earth - has plans to bring Middle-earth closer than ever before.
The New Zealand airline is giving three lucky The Hobbit Trilogy fans from around the world the chance to attend the world première of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug in Hollywood. A fourth fan has the chance to win a-once-in-a-lifetime Middle-earth experience in New Zealand.
A new video from the creative airline Just another day in Middle-earth stars New Zealand flight attendants, pilots, aircraft engineers, an aircraft marshall, baggage handlers, airport staff and more than 120 extras - all with a cheeky Middle-earth twist.
The aim of the clip is to inspire travellers from around the world to take their own unexpected journey and realise that "Middle-earth is closer than you think".
Middle-earth inspired adventures
Visitors to New Zealand can embark on a variety of The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit Trilogy inspired adventures.
There are 40 New Zealand locations that feature in The Hobbit Trilogy, some are in the same regions and almost the same spot as scenes shot for The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.
Matamata, in the Waikato region of New Zealand’s North Island, is home to Hobbiton - a permanent legacy from the Sir Peter Jackson directed films where visitors have the chance to feel like a hobbit, if only for one day.
Nearby, Hairy Feet Waitomo takes visitors on a journey though some unique New Zealand landscapes and filming sites from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
Waitomo’s twinkling glow-worms, network of ancient limestone caves and thrilling black water rafting adventures offer an underworld view of Middle-earth.
Ohakune, in the central North Island Ruapehu region, was used for scenes in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and a variety of tourism products, including the world-famous Tongariro Crossing, provide tourists with a wonderful experience of New Zealand’s rugged volcanic landscapes.
The South Island of New Zealand offers a plethora of Middle-earth inspired landscapes.
Canterbury is New Zealand’s largest region, and a playground for outdoor thrills from skiing, climbing and hiking, to whale watching tours and star gazing into exceptionally dark skies. This region is home to many high country farms, dry tussock plains, stunning blue alpine lakes and jagged mountain ranges.
The region was used for numerous locations for The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and the Mt Cook region has been used again for The Hobbit Trilogy.
Queenstown - the adventure capital of New Zealand - is one of Gandalf’s favourite places. British bard Sir Ian McKellen, who played Gandalf, has said: "I feel I know Queenstown quite well. I’ve been to places that have the same sort of spirit elsewhere in the world but nowhere in quite such a magnificent setting."
Another feature of the Air New Zealand marketing campaign will be the unveiling of a Boeing 777-300 aircraft in special Hobbit film-inspired livery on 2 December in Auckland.
The flying billboard will leave that night for Los Angeles where it will touch down in time for the The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug première.
Air New Zealand’s Head of Global Brand Development Jodi Williams says there is a common perception that New Zealand is tucked away at the bottom of the earth and the perceived distance barrier stops some travellers considering the country as a destination - but Air New Zealand dismisses this myth, pointing out that for some travellers "Middle-earth is just a sleep away."
Tourism New Zealand figures from last year’s marketing activity around The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey show 82% of international survey respondents stated the campaign increased their interest in New Zealand. 8.5% of international visitors to New Zealand during January - March 2013 said The Hobbit Trilogy was a factor in stimulating their interest in New Zealand and 1% said it was the most important factor.
About 'The Hobbit' Trilogy
The second in a trilogy of films adapting the enduring and popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug continues the adventures of title character Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) as he journeys with the Wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and 13 dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) on an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is a production of New Line Cinema and MGM, with New Line managing production. Warner Bros Pictures is handling worldwide theatrical distribution, with select international territories as well as all international television distribution being handled by MGM.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug opens worldwide beginning on Friday, December 13, 2013.