New Zealand Capital Renamed 'The Middle Of Middle-Earth' For Upcoming Hobbit Film

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NEW ZEALAND MIDDLE OF MIDDLE EARTH
Aerial view of Hobbiton Aerial view of 'The Hobbit' film set, Matamata, Waikato, New Zealand (Stephen Barker / Rex Features) | Stephen Barker / Rex Features

Wellington, New Zealand is making its case as the one destination to rule them all for Lord of The Rings fans — well, at least for three weeks.

New Zealand's capital is unofficially renaming itself "The Middle of Middle Earth" in preparation for the upcoming film, "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey." The film is a prequel to the Lord of The Rings trilogy, which takes place in the fictional setting of Middle Earth, according to the novels and films.

"Thousands of people want to come and be part of the fun," said Wellington's mayor, Celia Wade-Brown, in an interview with the Associated Press. She added that Peter Jackson, director of the LOTR trilogy and The Hobbit, has helped create a film industry in the city that now employs more than 3,000 people.

But that's not all the films have done. New Zealand's tourism industry saw a 40 per cent boom after the release of the first three films, reports the The Christian Science Monitor.

It's a phenomenon the country's tourism industry is hoping to recreate with "The Hobbit." The magic surrounding New Zealand's natural beauty has lost its steam since "Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of The Ring" premiered 11 years ago, and the country's government is hoping The Hobbit, which will be split into three movies, will reverse a 10 per cent drop in tourist spending since 2008, according to Bloomberg.

It's a formula that's worked before, as Wellington isn't the first city to capitalize on pop culture tied to fantasy and science fiction. Canada, the United Kingdom and even Tunisia have enjoyed tourism boosts tied to cults of travellers devoted to certain geeky destinations.

Travel destinations for the geek in your life. Slideshow text continues below

Travel Ideas For The Geek In Your Life
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Do you have a geek-centric destination in mind? Feel free to let us know in the comment section below.

An earlier version of this story had the location of Area 51 incorrectly listed as Roswell, Nevada, when it should be Rachel, Nedada. The story and slideshow have been updated to reflect this. Huffington Post Canada regrets this error.

Travel Destinations For The Geek In Your Life

Vulcan, Canada

The town of Vulcan is known for a few things: wheat, barley and its love for Trekkies. Located just a 90-minute drive south-east of Calgary, Alberta, Vulcan shares the same name as the home world of an alien race in Star Trek. It's something the town has embraced with its tourism and Trek station, rife with memorabilia from the show, and the town plays hosts to the world-renowned Star Trek convention, VulCON: Spock Days/Galaxyfest.

Hôtel Sidi Driss, Tunisia

The Force is strong in this hotel. That's because Star Wars fans will recognize the hotel from Star Wars IV: A New Hope as the home of the trilogy's hero, Luke Skywalker... before the jerks in the Empire burned it to the ground. Good news is that the actual hotel is very much intact should Star War fans find their themselves in Matmata, Tunisia. Visitors are allowed to sleep in the building's five rooms all year round, and it still features the original decorations since it was rebuilt in 2000. No word on whether complementary lightsabers are provided with a night's stay.

Kennedy Space Center, USA

More of a destination focused on science rather than science fiction, the Kennedy Space Center is a place for space history junkies to check out. NASA's space shuttle program may have closed down, but the station, based in Orlando, Florida, is still very much operational and the grounds are still used to launch various items into space, like rockets and military vehicles. There are also numerous tours of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, now with increased access to areas unseen for 30 years like launch control, the vehicle assembly building and the actual launch pad.

Area 51, USA

For those looking to gamble, head to Las Vegas, Nevada. But for those with a conspiracy theorist in their life, head to Rachel, Nevada, home of Area 51 and the biggest alien conspiracy outside of episodes of the "X- Files." The military base is off limits to the public and is patrolled by armed guards who are authorized to use deadly force, though most people are just escorted off the perimeter and fined $600 U.S. for trespassing. There are guided tours to the area, though travellers can also rent a car and head down a stretch of the Highway 375 until they reach the base.

Warner Brother Studio, England

Where else but in London, England could Harry Potter fans get one last fix? The book series is over and movies are no longer in theatres, but geeks of the the widely acclaimed book series can still check out Warner Bros. Studio in London for a behind-the-scenes look at the movies that blow the extra features on the DVDs out of the water. The tour takes visitors onto the actual sets of the series' eight films and delves into the magic that went on with the props, costumes, special effects and animatronics used to put together the films.

Wellington, New Zealand

Also known as 'The Middle of Middle-Earth', New Zealand's capital has twice renamed itself after the fictional setting of J.R.R. Tolkien's literary classic. And so long as Peter Jackson, the director behind the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the upcoming The Hobbit trilogy keeps filming in his native country of New Zealand, Wellington could keep changing its name a few more times.

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