Scenery will make splash in 'Hobbit'
By Jonathan Milne
5:30 AM Sunday Feb 13, 2011

It is a spectacular sight: tens of millions of litres of water exploding from the spill gates of Aratiatia Dam, leaping and gushing through the narrow gorge below.

It is a sight that draws thousands of tourists to the rapids, above Taupo's Huka Falls, every year.

But for four days this year, those visitors will be turned away - and the tourism operators couldn't be more happy about it.

Peter Jackson has settled on the Aratiatia Rapids as a location for filming one of the dramatic outdoor scenes in his two-part feature production of The Hobbit.

It is only one of the beautiful locations set to feature in the movies, and with every new location disclosed, local tourism operators will be rubbing their hands.

Tourism is worth an estimated $9.5 billion a year to the New Zealand economy, and the pulling power of Middle Earth has been valued at a significant share of that. On top of that is the $500 million that the movie producers are expected to spend during filming and post-production.

More here.