The eagles have landed - in Wellington

MICHELLE DUFF AND TOM HUNT
Last updated 08:32 02/12/2013

The complex installation of the Hobbit eagle sculpture into Wellington Airport.

eagle airport
ROSS GIBLIN
FOWL SWOOP: A giant eagle from the Hobbit has been erected at Wellington airport. Flight attendant Philip Dunn cowers in fear.

Air NZ Smaug plane revealed

Gandalf the grey on an eagle
MAARTEN HOLL/FAIRFAX NZ
UNVEILED: A striking second sculpture, of an eagle carrying wizard Gandalf, is now a feature at Wellington Airport.
Hobbit eagle and gandalf
MAARTEN HOLL/Fairfax NZ
UNVEILED: A striking second sculpture, of an eagle carrying wizard Gandalf, is now a feature at Wellington Airport.

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Two giant eagle sculptures, one carrying a likeness of Gandalf, have been unveiled at Wellington Airport as part of a huge promotion push for the latest Hobbit movie.

Yesterday, the first eagle, Gwaihir the Windlord, with a 15-metre wingspan caught the attention of travellers.

Today, the second eagle carrying Gandalf, was revealed.

Yesterday, airport visitors were in a flap over the massive bird of prey that appeared above the foodcourt.

"We think it's absolutely amazing - the person who constructed it is a creative genius," one visitor said, craning his neck for a better view.

The work was the creation of Weta Workshop and boss Sir Richard Taylor said today he was "thrilled" to be involved.

"What could be more suitable for an airport in Middle-earth than Gandalf the Grey atop a giant eagle swooping into the terminal, such an evocative image from The Hobbit and a fantastic and challenging project for our artists to design and build."

Its arrival heralds the second part of The Hobbit trilogy, The Desolation of Smaug, which opens on December 12.

But a few select Kiwi fans will be able to get a sneak peek, with a charity screening being held on December 9 at The Embassy, with proceeds going to the Island Bay Marine Education Centre.

Tolkien fans are picking the eagle as Gwaihir the Windlord, the greatest eagle who ever lived, who features in The Hobbit.

Air New Zealand flight attendant Philip Dunn was waiting with three other cabin crew to board a flight to Sydney, and then home to Christchurch.

He thought Wellington Airport was one of the best in the world, and that the sculpture added another point of interest.

"We just noticed it - it's really cool isn't it, it's lovely."

Leila Ceniza-Carr, 12, was admiring the eagle before catching a flight home to Brisbane.

She was a big Hobbit fan, and said it looked as though the eagle was flying out of reach of Gollum and his fish. "I think the fish are evil."

The Gollum piece was another Weta Workshop design, brought to life by Japanese fine art sculptor Masayuki Ohashi in October last year.

As the promotion for the latest instalment ramps up Sir Peter Jackson and Middle-earth have popped up in the swanky Beverly Hills hotel in Los Angeles, where four replica sets from the movie were built inside.

The Tourism NZ promotion was designed to attract another wave of American visitors to New Zealand.

SMAUG REVEALED

Hobbit fans can finally see the most-anticipated character in the movie trilogy, the dragon Smaug.

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While Smaug has previously been glimpsed in part, his full body has never been revealed.

Ahead of the premiere of the second part of the Hobbit trilogy, The Desolation of Smaug, Air New Zealand this morning unveiled a 54-metre long image of the dragon on the sides of a Boeing 777-300.

Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon said the airline had worked with Weta Digital "to reveal their star to the world".

For the last premiere, the airline created another Hobbit-themed plane which carried stars to the Wellington premiere.

Director Sir Peter Jackson said he was proud to debut Smaug in New Zealand.

"To see Smaug fly off the big screen and into the skies like this is pretty exciting," he said.

The plane will fly to Los Angeles this evening, arriving in time for the premiere tomorrow.

- The Dominion Post

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