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NZ set to cash in on Hobbit tourism

07:00 AEST Sat Dec 29 2012
AAP
Flags advertising The Hobbit are displayed at Wellington Airport
Flags advertising The Hobbit are displayed at Wellington Airport.

The number of United Kingdom tourists heading to New Zealand is expected to spike thanks to the release of the first movie in The Hobbit trilogy.

Foreign exchange company Travelex says pre-orders for New Zealand dollars in the UK are up 26 per cent compared to the same time last year.

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"Hundreds of fans of the film are making trips to New Zealand," Travelex spokesman David Swann told the Press Association.

"We predict the numbers of visitors will rise after families watch the movie during the Christmas break and see the spectacular scenery."

Tourist operators throughout New Zealand are offering a variety of Hobbit-themed tours.

Tours include a wander through the film set near Matamata and hobbit food, with themed accommodation representing the Prancing Pony Inn in The Lord of the Rings owned by Barliman Butterbur, where everything is oversized.

Crystal Cruises land and port operations vice president John Stoll told the Press Association there had been an increase in the number of people wanting to travel to New Zealand since The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

"The tours are proving to be extremely popular with our guests," he said.

The surge of interest in New Zealand from the UK will be welcome news after a steady decline in the number of tourists from the country over the last five years.

The UK is the third-biggest source of visitors to NZ after numbers fell by 17 per cent to 191,400 in the last year, putting it behind Australia and China.

Numerous campaigns have been launched to cash in on New Zealand's natural beauty which plays a starring role in the trilogy.

Tourism New Zealand gave its long-running 100 per cent pure campaign a Hobbit twist, adding "100 per cent Pure Middle-earth" to its television ads showing sweeping scenes of the rugged New Zealand landscape.

Air New Zealand created a passenger safety video featuring orcs, hobbits and elves, with Hobbit director Sir Peter Jackson also making an appearance.