Entries open for a chance to win the ultimate Middle-earth journey

The Hobbit Fan Fellowship Contest, which will see up to 75 lucky fans and a friend have the opportunity to experience the ultimate Middle-earth journey to New Zealand, is officially underway.

Sir Peter Jackson pictured in his Park Road Post theatre in Wellington is looking forward to welcoming winners of The Hobbit Fan Fellowship Contest to Middle-earth later this year. Credit: Tourism New Zealand

The contest celebrates the end of the journey, bringing The Hobbit Trilogy to the screen culminating with the December release of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

Tourism New Zealand and Air New Zealand, in conjunction with New Line Cinema, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures, today launched the online contest, with the first in a series of challenges entitled 'Postcard to Peter' inviting Hobbit fans to choose from six New Zealand postcard images and submit a message viawww.thehobbitfancontest.com to Sir Peter Jackson expressing their love for The Hobbitfilms and detailing what travelling to Middle-earth, New Zealand would mean to them.

The postcard image selections available to fans capture some of the real life landscapes and scenery of New Zealand, where Jackson and his team found the ideal filming locations to bring Middle-earth to life in The Hobbit Trilogy, as well as an image of one of Air New Zealand's Hobbit-inspired Boeing 777-300 aircraft.

Tourism New Zealand's Chief Executive Kevin Bowler says The Hobbit Fan Fellowship Contest gives Tourism New Zealand a fantastic platform on which to create a global conversation about New Zealand as a holiday destination.

"The beauty of this challenge is that contestants throughout the world are engaging with destination New Zealand via their entry. It encourages them to consider multiple New Zealand locations and the things they could do while here, all of which will build interest and motivation for a New Zealand visit."

With entrants being able to share contest related content on their social channels, the conversation about a New Zealand holiday could reach millions of people.

"The contest creates a global conversation about Middle-earth, New Zealand and provides a mechanism for images of New Zealand to be showcased around the world," says Kevin.

The 'Postcard to Peter' is the first in a series of four challenges. The lucky winners will then be invited to bring a friend or family member along with them on an epic journey through New Zealand.

Since the contest was announced on 27 July at Comic-Con International in San Diego, upwards of 25,000 people have registered their interest to participate.

The Hobbit Fan Fellowship Contest journey will kick-off in Auckland before taking in the Waikato and Central Otago regions, culminating in Wellington for a private pre-screening of the upcoming third and final film in the epic Trilogy, The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies, with Sir Peter Jackson. This screening will occur about a month prior to the global release, making the event even more exciting for true Hobbit fans.

Up to 50 international media will accompany the winners on their Middle-earth journey, documenting the journey and experiences and sharing them globally.

Kevin says the resulting print, broadcast and social media coverage will provide extensive exposure for New Zealand as a visitor destination, as those media will reach thousands more potential travellers with their stories of Middle-earth, New Zealand.

"Our work over the past two years to convert the international attention New Zealand draws from The Hobbit Trilogy into travel has been very successful. Over the coming months, we will continue to show how easily the fantasy of Middle-earth can be experienced by individuals in the form of their own journey through New Zealand. Through our activity, we will also ensure that New Zealand's association as the home of the cinematic Middle-earth lives on long past the release of the final film."

New Zealanders can also take part in the contest which closes on 23 September 2014. The winners will be selected in October, with the Fan Fellowship arriving on New Zealand's shores on 2 November.

For more information and to enter The Hobbit Fan Fellowship Contest visit TheHobbitFanContest.com

See Sir Peter Jackson's announcement of The Hobbit Fan Fellowship Contest

Contact Emma Carter, Senior Communications Advisor, Tourism New Zealand | emma.carter@tnz.govt.nz | +64 21 243 0386

About the prize
Contest winners will land in Auckland, rated the third most liveable city in the world, before embarking on a specially designed itinerary to recognisable 'filmscapes' - the highlight being a special visit to Hobbiton, the famous movie set at the heart of both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogies. Now New Zealand's fastest growing tourist attraction, Hobbiton is nestled in a working sheep farm near the small town of Matamata in the Waikato region.  Fans will enjoy a private tour through the 12-acre site, with a close-up look at the 44 Hobbit homes.

The Hobbit Fan Fellowship will also visit other key film sites throughout New Zealand's Middle-earth chosen by Sir Peter Jackson for his epic trilogies, and experience those locations' tourist attractions. Tourism New Zealand says this proves the stunning backdrops featured throughout both trilogies are not just fantasy but real places holiday-makers can explore and enjoy.

The journey will end in Wellington for the ultimate film fan's dream - a private screening of the final film, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, with Sir Peter Jackson.  Fans will meet up with the famous director in his home town "Wellywood", New Zealand's capital city, where Sir Peter has based his filmmaking operations and which has now become a must-stop for film fans visiting the cinematic Middle-earth.

About The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Directed by Peter Jackson, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies features a screenplay by Fran Walsh & Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson & Guillermo del Toro, based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien. Jackson also produced the film, together with Carolynne Cunningham, Zane Weiner and Fran Walsh. The executive producers are Alan Horn, Toby Emmerich, Ken Kamins and Carolyn Blackwood, with Philippa Boyens and Eileen Moran serving as co-producers. Production took place at Jackson's own facilities in Miramar, Wellington, and on location around New Zealand. Post production took place at Park Road Post Production in Wellington.

New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Present a Wingnut Films Production, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.  As with the first two films in the Trilogy, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the final film is a production of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM), with New Line managing production. Warner Bros. Pictures is handling worldwide theatrical distribution, with select international territories as well as all international television distribution being handled by MGM.