When will the world have had enough of Hobbits?

Tourism New Zealand is gambling on the appeal of the hairy-footed little fellas lasting for some time yet.

Last week's announcement that the "100 per cent Pure New Zealand" brand is to be transformed through wizardly craft into "100 per cent Middle Earth" might have surprised anyone working in the many sectors of Kiwi tourism that won't benefit from association with Bilbo and his pals.

Upmarket wineries, top-end restaurants and luxury resorts might wonder how they fit into the world of JRR Tolkien.


Getting on the LOTR bandwagon was smart first time around. This time it suggests a lack of inspiration.

We ought to be careful of linking ourselves too heavily with The Hobbit, to the detriment of other tourism values.

When the LOTR films came out in the early 2000s, New Zealand shrewdly called upon fans to make a once-in-a-lifetime trip. The thing about a once-in-a-lifetime trip is you only do it, er, once.

Ironically, this announcement came in the same week tourism boss Martin Snedden called upon industry players to "think different".

"Think different, but do the same-y." It's the sort of riddle a Hobbit might appreciate.

A taste for travel

What can we do to keep alive the magic sensations of travel?

After spending a lot of money getting to - and around - far flung corners of the world, it's nice to string out the return on your investment for a while. Boring your friends with a slide show has gone the way of flared trousers, which leaves food as your best bet.

The Stamford Plaza's clever take on it is the excellent Taste of Singapore Hawker Buffet, which runs until August 31, a celebration of colour and flavour. Make a night of it: stay in the hotel, eat at the buffet, then hit the town.