New Zealand Fans Middle-earth bound for The Hobbit Trilogy dream journey

Gearing up for the 11 December release of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, a production of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM), four of New Zealand's most passionate and dedicated Hobbit fans are about to set off on an adventure, for a real life Middle-earth experience they would once have only dreamed possible.

Looking through one of the Hobbit holes at Hobbiton Movie Set.

Fans will have the opportunity to meet Sir Peter Jackson and watch a preview screening of the highly anticipated third and final film in the filmmaker's epic The Hobbit Trilogy at his private studios in Wellington. 

Watching the massive battles of the Trilogy's epic conclusion unfold on screen will have added impact for fans who will have just visited some of the actual filming locations where Sir Peter and his filmmaking team captured the character and sweeping beauty of Middle-earth in adapting the timeless masterpiece for the screen. 

The lucky four New Zealanders are among up to 75 global winners of The Hobbit Fan Fellowship Contest-a collaboration of Warner Bros. Pictures and its filmmaking partners New Line and MGM, as well as Air New Zealand - the official airline of Middle-earth - and Tourism New Zealand, the government tourism body responsible for hosting the fans in New Zealand.

The New Zealand winners are Ash Meredith and Hazel Childs-Coulson from Wellington, Tess McGregor from Auckland and Floris Van Gaalen from Hamilton.

Asked about his first thoughts when told he had won a place on The Hobbit Fan Fellowship Trip, Ash Meredith said it was one of those once in a lifetime wish list journeys which he is both proud and humble to have been selected for.

"It is going to be amazing to meet fellow Hobbit fanatics from all over the globe right in my own back yard."

"We're thrilled to engage with Hobbit fans around the world on this grassroots level," said Sue Kroll, President, Worldwide Marketing and International Distribution.  "These are fans with passion and a sense of adventure, and we're thrilled to invite them to experience the wonder of this last trip to Middle-earth with Peter Jackson himself in New Zealand."

More than 140,000 thousand people from approximately 30 countries registered for The Hobbit Fan Fellowship Contest, to find the most ardent fans of The Hobbit Trilogy. The contest invited fans to complete a series of Hobbit film-related challenges, including sending a postcard to Sir Peter Jackson explaining why they belonged in the Fan Fellowship, answering a Hobbit-themed quiz and a supplying a video message sharing their passion for all things Hobbit-related.

Each of the winners was invited to choose a fellow fan, friend or family member with whom to share this once-in-a-lifetime journey, which begins when they step aboard an Air New Zealand aircraft bound for Middle-earth. The fans will arrive in Auckland on November 2 and embark on a five-day expedition.

As well as meeting Sir Peter, the group will also visit locations and see landscapes made famous by both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogies throughout New Zealand's North and South Islands. The journey will show fans that the backdrops they've seen on the big screen are real locations they can experience as part of their holiday.

About the journey

The multi-national Fan Fellowship will fly in to Auckland, rated the third most liveable city in the world, and travel on to Rotorua, New Zealand's famous, long-standing tourist destination,  where they will be welcomed with a Maori cultural performance and traditional hangi banquet (cooked in an authentic underground oven).

Their next stop will be the Hobbiton Movie Set near Matamata in the Waikato region for a private tour of the picturesque shire which is the big-screen home of Bilbo Baggins.

Fans will be treated to feast fit for any Dwarf before continuing their journey to Queenstown in the South Island the following day.

Queenstown is New Zealand's adventure capital and the scene of countless battle scenes from The Hobbit Trilogy. The Fan Fellowship will not only have the chance to walk in the footsteps of their heroes through Paradise but also visit the site of the Pillar of Kings, home of the Kawerau Bungy and zipline.

The journey will end in Wellington, New Zealand's capital city and Sir Peter's home town, for the private screening of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. Better known as "Wellywood," Wellington is the home of Sir Peter's filmmaking operations, which has become a must-stop for film fans visiting New Zealand.

The Hobbit Fan Fellowship Journey will be recorded by a group of 40 - 50 high-profile international and New Zealand media who will capture the highlights for global television, print and online outlets.

Supporting the fans' journey are New Line Cinema, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures, which will handle the worldwide theatrical distribution of The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies later this year, along with MGM in select territories.

For more information:

Air New Zealand
Air New Zealand Public Affairs; +64 21 747 320

Tourism New Zealand
Emma Carter, Senior Communications Advisor, Tourism New Zealand; +64 21 243 0386

Roadshow Film Distributors
Leanda Borrett, Publicist, Roadshow Films; +64 21 277 7587

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.