Thousands attend The Hobbit premiere

Thousands populated New Zealand’s capital to catch a glimpse of stars from the film The Hobbit.

The cast of The Hobbit pose on stage at the world premiere in Courtenay Place, Wellington, New Zealand on 28 November 2012. Picture: AFP /Marty Melville

WELLINGTON - Tens of thousands of people packed New Zealand's capital city, clambering on roofs and hanging onto lamp posts on Wednesday to get a glimpse of the stars at the red carpet world premiere of the film The Hobbit: an Unexpected Journey.

Wellington, where director Peter Jackson and much of the post production is based, renamed itself the Middle of Middle Earth, and fans with prominent Hobbit ears, medieval style costumes, and wizard hats had camped out the night before to claim prized spaces along the 500 metre red carpet.

Jackson, a one time newspaper printer and the maker of the Oscar winning Lord of the Rings trilogy more than a decade ago, was cheered along the walk, stopping to talk to fans, sign autographs and pose for photos.

The Hobbit trilogy is set 60 years before the Rings movies, but Jackson said it has benefited from being made after the conclusion of the J.R.R. Tolkien fantasy saga.

"I'm glad that we established the style and the look of Middle Earth by adapting Lord of the Rings before we did the Hobbit," Jackson told Reuters from the red carpet.

Jackson, a hometown hero in Wellington, said the production had been on a "difficult journey", alluding to Warner Brothers' financial problems, and a later labour dispute with unions.

"Fate meant for us to be here," he told an ecstatic crowd, which hailed him as a film genius, but also a down to earth local boy.

"I came here to see the stars but also Peter (Jackson)...I loved the Lord of the Rings and that made me want to be here, without him none of it would be here," said teenage student Samantha Cooper.