Hobbit to be filmed in Nelson

ANNA PEARSON
Last updated 13:00 05/09/2011

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Sir Peter Jackson's movie The Hobbit is set to be filmed in Nelson at the end of this year, with hundreds of crew members expected to stay in the region.

Local moteliers have been contacted by the film's production company, 3 Foot 7, which is looking for accommodation for about 400 to 500 people in November and December.

Motel Association of New Zealand Nelson's John Gilbertson, who owns Arrow Motels on Golf Rd, confirmed some of the association's members were holding rooms for such a group.

Filming for the anticipated two-part movie resumed last week and will continue until December.

The film features international celebrities such as Evangeline Lilly, Orlando Bloom, Stephen Fry, James Nesbitt and Martin Freeman.

Mr Gilbertson said 3 Foot 7 made inquiries for booking 400 to 500 rooms in early December in Nelson and Golden Bay.

He said there were 50 Nelson members in the association with more than 700 rooms among them, so members could accommodate the film bookings across the region.

Some members were understandably anxious at taking a booking for a film company, as some had been burnt accepting bookings for the movie Kingdom Come, he said.

Kingdom Come was to be shot in New Zealand, including in the Nelson region, but the production company folded before shooting.

However, he said it was a different situation with 3 Foot 7, and the association would be happy and keen to have them in the region.

The Hobbit publicist Melissa Booth said she was unable to confirm locations as they were in the throes of filming.

"We're just looking forward and trying to get the film made. I think everyone is happy to be back at work."

Pohara motelier Steve du Feu said the filming of The Hobbit was "good news" for businesses in Golden Bay. His motel, The Sandcastle, is one of a number in Golden Bay that have been booked out by 3 Foot 7 for 10 days in mid-November and a week in early December.

"The increased activity in the bay associated with this will be an awesome boost after what has been a pretty quiet winter. The crew will be made to feel very welcome," he said.

Bob Haswell of Clifftops Retreat in Ruby Bay said he had friends working on the film in Wellington and "it looks like some of them might be coming to Nelson".

Mr Haswell is connected to Tasman Helicopters, which was involved during the filming of parts of The Lord of the Rings trilogy in the Nelson region, but he said the company had not been approached about helping with The Hobbit.

Nelson Mayor Aldo Miccio said the likelihood that The Hobbit crew might be coming to Nelson was news to him, but he was not surprised. "It's in line with what we have been hearing – that Nelson is going to be a destination for filming."

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He said the crew of Kiwi Flyer had told him that word was spreading that Nelson was "the place to come".

"I think we're going to see a lot more of this in the future."

- The Nelson Mail

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