In one episode of Flight of the Conchords, HBO's long since canceled show about a New Zealand folk duo living in New York, a travel poster in the consulate office reads, "New Zealand: Like Lord of the Rings."
As if the most well-known thing about this proud island nation were its role as the setting for the Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
But maybe it is. Life began imitating art late last month in Wellington International Airport, which has been renamed "the Middle of Middle-Earth" as the city prepares for the premiere of Peter Jackson's first installment of The Hobbit.
The airport has installed a 13-meter statue of Gollum hanging from the roof of the terminal, grasping for fishes above the cafe area. The replica was designed by the visual effects company WETA, founded by Richard Taylor, Jamie Selkirk, and director Peter Jackson in 1993.
Top image courtesy WETA. Other images by Steve Unwin.
HT Laughing Squid.