Gollum will again stand guard over Hobbiton.
A 170kg bronze statue of the popular character, first introduced in The Hobbit, will be on watch outside Matamata's i-SITE Gatehouse.
The i-SITE is expecting tourists, on The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit pilgrimages, to double to around 400,000 visitors per year after the general release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Part 1 on December 12.
The world premiere of Sir Peter Jackson's new film is tomorrow night in Wellington.
The new statue, which cost the Matamata Public Relations Association $25,000, replaces a stone carving of Gollum that had been vandalised and then removed by the disappointed association.
''He was bashed,'' said Sue Whiting, manager of the Matamata i-SITE.
''He was in so many pictures taken by tourists we decided to purchase Gollum from Weta.''
The statue shows Gollum perched atop a rock, juicy fish in hand, at the edge of the Forbidden Pool where he goes fishing in The Two Towers.
He plays a pivotal role in The Hobbit, being responsible for Bilbo Baggin's discovery of the one ring of power which is eventually handed on to Frodo Baggins at the start of The Fellowship of the Ring.
Prior to becoming Gollum, he was a stoor hobbit of the river folk called Smeagol. But the ring corrupted him and transformed him.
Gollum will stand guard over the i-SITE from Thursday, when the gatehouse is officially opened and there are plans to set up a web cam permanently focussed on him to allow tourists to text their families and friends and see them in Matamata.
The Matamata community is excited about the launch of The Hobbit and the redevelopment of the Hobbiton Movie Set, said Ms Whiting.
''The Matamata i-SITE Gatehouse can be the beginning of the journey for our visitors - it will spark the magic.''
The town's businesses are sharing in the magic, creating their own slice of the Shire outside their premises with Hobbiton-style gardens and painted windows.
The entire community will share in the Gatehouse opening with celebrations, entertainment and activities to suit all ages planned on the 'Party Field' created close to the building.
- Waikato Times
- (Live Matches)