New Zealand: Is Middle-earth closer than we think?


Those who believe that middle-earth is far away, err: for New Zealanders and Australians and some of the islanders in the neighbourhood, it is pretty close. For inhabitants of other destinations usually dubbed ‘long-haul’ like Shanghai, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Hong Kong and Tokyo, ‘it is just a sleep away’, says Jodi Williams, head of Global Brand Development of Air New Zealand. That may be true. Europe, however, is painfully remote – and for us over here New Zealand, indeed, ‘is tucked away at the bottom of the earth’. Meaning, that most of us are deprived of ever experiencing the awesome scenery live, that has been filming location for a series of unearthly movies of monumental calibre.


In the depths of Hobbit Land

Which the world has witnessed open-mouthed. As a stunning contrast to its outside beauty, the trilogy Lord of the Rings showed us angst-inducing pictures of earth’s intimidating bowels peopled by evil alien beings of close to unbearable uglyness and wickedness – or of conniving ambivalence in the shape of Gollum (preciousssssssssssssss). Then arrived the hour of the hobbits – designed as a prequel to The Lord of the Rings – and on December 2nd, part two of a trilogy turning around those cute little big-footed creatures was released in Hollywood: The Desolation of Smaug (the rest of the world must be patient until around the 12th).

Again well-timed support is rendered by Air New Zealand, who unveiled a Boeing 777-300 aircraft in a special livery depicting Smaug, the dragon, on December 2nd as well. And, speaking of being much closer than one thinks, the plane took off in Auckland that same night to touch down punctually for the film premiere of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug in Los Angeles. A journey back in time, so to say. This plane has a predecessor, which was painted in a similar fashion for an identical assignment: to enhance last year’s campaign of part one of the hobbit tale.

Just another day in Middle-earth

And there is more: another one of ANZ’s hobbit video-creations links their marketing campaign to the launch of the new movie. The video Just Another Day in Middle-earth stars Air New Zealand flight attendants, pilots, aircraft engineers, an aircraft marshall, baggage handlers and airport staff playing themselves. Its target is to inspire travellers worldwide to venture out on their own unexpected journey, encouraged by the key message: ‘Middle-earth is closer than you think’. Viewers of the video could win one of four trips for two to either Middle-earth (New Zealand) or to the premiere of part two in Los Angeles – airfares, accommodation and rental car included.

Please look for the video on