New Zealand has gone Hobbit crazy. Part of me understands that this is a marketing coup, a cynical cash grab. But most of me is just joyously overwhelmed by the constant Tolkien allusions and Hobbit paraphernalia. Most lamp posts have flying banners with Hobbit characters and Elf ears are a common sight. They sell Hobbit coins and stamps at the post office. The international airport in Wellington is now stamping “Middle Earth” instead of New Zealand in you passport (what I wouldn’t give for one of those!) Everywhere, from bike shops to banks Starbucks, is catching Hobbit fever.
Not only did we stand next to the red carpet for 5+ hours, but we’ve had Golden Perch ale, visited a Hobbit market, and enjoyed a middle earth burlesque. (Pictures were verbotten, naturally, but the dancers were dressed as, amongst other things, orcs, dwarves, Shelob, and even the fallen elves of the Dead Marshes. And you’ll be happy to know the Hobbit had hairy feet–and a hairy bum!)
I’ve never waited on the red carpet before (and I never will again) but it was somewhat fun. Neil Finn came out, sang some Crowded House songs, and ended with “Song of the Lonely Mountain.” Periodically dancers and/or magicians came out and performed. Hobbit banners and flags were handed out. So, too, were Gandalf hats but I was unable to grab one as a team of greedy germans grabbed all the ones in our vicinity. I don’t really care too much about famous people, but it was fun to see some of the stars walk by.
Check out some of the other pictures below; Tolkien would perhaps not have been proud, but certainly very amused. And this is far from a comprehensive collection of images–Wellington is Hobbit mad, I tell you.