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After months of planning and construction work, director Peter Jackson's detailed replica of New York is about to come to life.

Jackson announced on a website that cameras would roll on the set in Lower Hutt from tomorrow.

The New York scenes are expected to include large numbers of extras in 1930s clothing and cars and other vehicles from the period.

Shooting of his $200 million film King Kong took a break over Christmas. For the past two weeks, Jackson has been working with film editor Jamie Selkirk editing footage.

As with much of the sets and props in The Lord of the Rings, Jackson appears to be sparing no expense in making the sets as realistic as possible.

That includes painted signs for stores and movie-theatre foyers bedecked in lights, as well as detailed frontages for homes.

Though filming resumes tomorrow, Jackson will have to make do without two of the film's stars, Adrien Brody and Naomi Watts.

Oscar-winner Brody will be in Los Angeles to announce this year's Academy Awards nominees on Wednesday, and Watts has been in Utah at the Sundance Film Festival for the premiere of her new film Ellie Parker.

Jackson explained last month that his Manhattan will include parts of Broadway, Times Square and Fifth Avenue.

To recreate an accurate version of 1933 New York down to the smallest signs, King Kong designers were using photographs of the period, including several from the US Library of Congress. They were also using information on how many people lived in the city blocks they would film.

Only the first storey or two of each building had been constructed, the rest would be seen on film using computer-generated special effects.