(Relaxnews) - Air New Zealand continues to ride on the coattails of the cinematic success of "The Hobbit" with the unveiling of a Boeing aircraft emblazoned nose to tail with the image of the villainous dragon Smaug.
Unveiled December 2 in Auckland, the Boeing 777-300 features a replica of the fearsome dragon as it appears in “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” the second installation of Kiwi filmmaker Peter Jackson’s trilogy.
The aircraft left for Los Angeles Monday and was scheduled to land in in time for the Tinseltown film premiere.
According to Tourism New Zealand, 82 percent of international survey respondents stated that the campaign around "The Hobbit" increased their interest in New Zealand as a travel destination.
Air New Zealand has been capitalizing heavily on the film in its marketing strategy, creating in-flight safety demonstrations and ads featuring hobbits, dwarves, elves and orcs.
This summer, American Airlines struck a partnership with Disney in a tie-up that saw the carrier score a cameo role in the film "Planes."
Taiwanese carrier Eva Air has likewise emblazoned a few of its aircraft with the most famous cat in the world, Hello Kitty, while Australian airline Qantas painted a moustache on the nose of one their aircrafts last month for Movember.
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Visitors arriving at Wellington’s airport will find themselves plunged into Middle-earth reality as they come face-to-face with a gigantic sculpture of Gollum catching fish, in the main terminal Created by <a href="http://www.wetanz.com/weta-workshop-services/">Weta Workshop</a>, the installation is part of the city’s celebrations to mark the premiere of 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey'. Suspended from the terminal roof, the elongated 13-metre sculpture shows an emaciated but momentarily gleeful Gollum, submerged and reaching for his favourite meal of ‘juicy sweet fishes’.
Embassy Theatre, Wellington
The world premiere of 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' took place at the Embassy Theatre in Wellington on 28 November 2012. On the big night, Sir Peter Jackson was joined by cast members, Hollywood stars and executives on the red carpet for the VIP invitation-only event.
Museum Hotel, Wellington
Stay at <a href="http://www.museumhotel.co.nz/">Museum Hotel</a> where the cast, including Billy Connolly and Stephen Fry, were often spotted.
The Hobbit Artisan Market, Wellington
Wellington’s <a href="http://www.wellingtonnz.com">Waitangi Park </a> was transformed into a Hobbit Artisan Market just days before the city became host to the worldwide premiere of 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey'. Sadly, the market is now over but we sure love this picture.
Weta Cave, Wellington
It costs nothing to visit the Weta Cave Museum in Wellington, but you’ll come away with a richer knowledge of how the brilliant Weta team bring J.R.R. Tolkien’s books to life. You’ll meet some of the characters from 'The Lord of the Rings', plus you can watch amazing behind-the-scenes videos with interviews from Weta co-founders Sir Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor, Tania Rodger and Jamie Selkirk.
Back in the late nineties when Peter Jackson saw aerial shots of farmland in Matamata in the North Island of New Zealand, he knew immediately it was perfect for The Hobbiton. The Hobbiton movie set was first opened to the public in 2003 but of course closed again for reconstruction and filming of 'The Hobbit'. Middle-earth tourists can again experience its magical rolling green hills, actual Hobbit holes (all 44 of them), Green Dragon Inn, Mill and other structures used in the forthcoming films, and share their love for The Shire. A whopping 266,000 visitors have experienced The Hobbiton movie set tours since it first opened. <a href="http://www.hobbitontours.com/">www.hobbitontours.com</a>
The Majestic Alps, Queenstown
Not to be missed are the iconic locations made known by 'The Lord of the Rings' films. The Southern Alps, which stretch for 550km from Blenheim to Fiordland, provided a stunning backdrop for filming 'The Lord of the Rings'. Helicopters were required to fly crew and cast to remote shooting locations. This scene shows the mountains above Glenorchy, which sits at the northern end of Lake Wakatipu. While in the South, you can casually walk some of the world's best tracks or find a vast array of thrill-seeking activities like jet boating, rafting, bungee jumping and heli-skiing.
Milford Sound, Fiordland
Carved by glaciers over thousands of years, Fiordland is a world of deep waters, tall peaks and waterfalls and is instantly recognisable a backdrop in 'The Lord of the Rings'. Milford Sound can be explored by cruise boat or sea kayak. There’s also a network of walking tracks in the area, including the world famous Milford Track. Aerial shots over Milford Sound were used to show Arwen’s flight in 'The Lord of the Rings' and when it rains here, the mountainsides erupt with hundreds of waterfalls. Some begin so high up, they never reach the sea. It’s like a scene from a fantasy movie, but it’s absolutely real!
Mt Ngauruhoe, in Tongariro National Park
Situated in New Zealand's central North Island, Mt Ngauruhoe and the surrounding desolate volcanic landscape of the park provided the eerie wasteland of Mordor, home of the Dark Lord Sauron in 'The Lord of the Rings'. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a one-day hike that takes you into the heart of Middle-earth and visual highlights include crazy coloured crater lakes, steaming fumaroles and massive volcanic views.