New Zealand is gearing up for a renewed bout of Tolkien tourism with the announcement that filming of The Hobbit will begin in the country next month.

The film's director, Peter Jackson, confirmed February 7 that the cameras will start rolling on the big-budget movie March 21, meaning a small section of New Zealand countryside will again be transformed into Middle Earth.

Filming will take place at Stone Street Studios in Wellington, New Zealand's capital city, and in the village of Hobbiton, a town created for the Lord of the Rings movies near Matamata on New Zealand's North Islands.

The village, which is part of a larger privately owned farm and has offered popular tours for tourists since 2002, will be closed to visitors for the duration of filming, although during the previous planned closure the Shires Rest Cafe was scheduled to remain open.

Source: The Independent