Huge crowds swarmed into central Wellington for the world premiere of Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit", an event that has sparked Middle Earth mania in New Zealand.
Up to 100,000 people are expected to crowd central Wellington Wednesday for the world premiere of Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit", an event that has sparked Middle Earth mania in New Zealand.
Presenters on national radio greeted listeners in the fictional language elvish on Wednesday morning, while newspapers came with complimentary Hobbit posters, and sculptures of characters from the film dotted the capital.
Hundreds of fans, many in costume, staked out spots hoping for a glimpse of stars such as Cate Blanchett, Elijah Wood and Martin Freeman treading a 500-metre (550-yard) red carpet leading to the Embassy Theatre.
Wellington has renamed itself "The Middle of Middle Earth" for the event and the New Zealand tourism industry has launched a major promotional push on the back of the movies, hoping to revive flagging international visitor numbers.
The films, which were shot back-to-back in New Zealand with an estimated budget of US$500 million, depict Bilbo's quest to reclaim the lost dwarf kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome dragon Smaug.
Bringing the trilogy to the screen proved a saga in itself, taking more than six years since the project was first mooted in September 2006.
Click on to see the cast's arrival in the legendary Middle Earth.