Hobbits have become New Zealand's new tourism ambassadors.
Never in the history of Hollywood marketing has the term "promotional vehicle" been taken so literally.
That, anyway, seemed to be the message this weekend when Air New Zealand unveiled its Hobbit-themed Boeing 777-300.
The 73-meter-long fuselage is emblazoned with images promoting the upcoming movie, "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," the first of a trilogy.
The aircraft will make an appearance at the movie's red carpet premiere in Wellington on November 28, where it will also fly in low at around 300 meters above fans.
The "flying billboard" is now serving routes between Auckland and Los Angeles or London.
On board, the Hobbit theme continues with the hugely popular, specially commissioned in-flight safety video featuring flight crew and passengers dressed as characters from the upcoming film.
This month's issue of the national carrier's in-flight magazine, "KiaOra," features a 25-page cover story on "The Hobbit." But it's the premium cabin passengers who really score with Hobbit-themed menus and hairy Hobbit socks in their amenity kits.
When the second installment of "The Hobbit" trilogy comes out next year, Air New Zealand will design a new flying billboard for the side of its iconic aircraft.