'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' world première

'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' - images from the red carpet world première in Wellington, New Zealand.

In November 2012 New Zealand’s stunning landscapes were once again at centre stage for movie lovers world-wide with the long-awaited release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - the first of three films based on J.R.R. Tolkien's much-loved fantasy.

Thousands of fans thronged Wellington - New Zealand’s film-making hub - for the world première on 28 November 2012 - and, since then, millions of Hobbit fans have filled cinemas worldwide to see the blockbuster movies.

And, as Kiwi film director and local hero Sir Peter Jackson has said, nowhere else in the world does a première quite like Wellington, New Zealand.

The New Zealand capital rolled out the red carpet and an estimated crowd of 100,000 fans turned up to celebrate the world première .

There was a huge and enthusiastic welcome for the stars - including Martin Freeman, Andy Serkis, Elijah Wood, Cate Blanchett, Evangeline Lilly, Richard Armitage and the full comany of Dwarves - as they made their way along a 500-metre red carpet stretching the length of Courtenay Place.

With a giant Gandalf watching from above, director Peter Jackson stepped through the front door of a Hobbit hole to welcome the stars to his hometown and thank the enthusiastic crowd for their support.

Wellington's entertainment quarter was seething with fans who camped out from early morning until late that night awaiting the chance to greet the stars as they walked the carpet or emerged from the celebrity screening in The Embassy Theatre - just a short walk from the spot on Mt Victoria where filming for The Lord of the Rings first began in 1999.

Sir Peter Jackson and daughter Katie walked the red carpet togther before the world premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - the first release in the Kiwi film-maker's The Hobbit Trilogy.

Stars of The Hobbit Trilogy, Evangeline Lilly and Cate Blanchett basked in the warmth of the Wellington welcome as they moved slowly along the carpet. Elijah Wood looked relaxed as he greeted fans; Andy Serkis took a bow while dwarves Dean O'Gorman and Aidan Turner soaked in the festival atmosphere.