From The latest phase of filming for Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has kicked off with the arrival of several Kiwi stars to the King Country. But there were no international stars – Orlando Bloom, Cate Blanchett or Elijah Wood – to be seen. Crews have spent many weeks filming in Matamata and are expected to finish this week and it’s the small King Country town of Piopio that the multimillion-dollar movie will now focus on. Yesterday, more than a dozen Kiwi actors and extras flew in to Hamilton International Airport on their way to Te Kuiti.

They included former Shortland St actor Dean O’Gorman and comedian Mark Hadlow, who also starred in King Kong and Meet the Feebles. Hadlow, who is starring as a dwarf in The Hobbit, said the crew were looking forward to their time in the area. “It’s a great place to come. I come here an awful lot with my shows, too. They’re fabulous people.” Hadlow was looking forward to a round of golf yesterday before an unrelenting schedule of filming, which will continue in various locations around the country over the next seven weeks. The premiere of the first movie, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, will be in Wellington before its general release on December 14 next year.