The Hobiton movie set near Matamata has seen a huge boost in tourism numbers this year as a result of filming the latest Peter Jackson trilogy.
Must say I wonder how they are going to stretch a fairly slim book intro two full-length movies . . . Lord of the Rings, yes, because it was three full-length books. But I read The Hobbit to my kids in the course of about a week of bedtime stories.
Never mind, I'm sure we will just love what the Jackson-Weta team do with the story.
In the meantime the rebuilt Hobbiton is pulling in the crowds. Over the past 12 months it has attracted 266,000 visitors, a 60% increase on the previous year. The Matamata business community must be happiness-filled.
When it was originally constructed for Lord Of The Rings in 1999 it was temporary and was to be bulldozed when filming finished. Problem was that more and more Ringies kept turning up at the gate of farmer Russell Alexander and asking to wander over his paddocks to see it. Initially his deal with the film company was that no commercial use was to be made of the abandoned set, but the sheer numbers of fans arriving caused a change of game plan and a formal tour was set up.
This time the 44 hobbit holes have been built of permanent materials with the intention of making it a major tourist attraction. Can you hear the ker-chang of the cash registers?
You can learn more about Hobbiton Tours at http://www.hobbitontours.com.
And learn more about attractions in the Waikato region at http://new-zealand-travel-guide.com/Waikato-New-Zealand.htm.