After financial woes, an industrial dispute and health problems for director Sir Peter Jackson, filming on the two Hobbit films finally begins tomorrow at Wellington's Stone Street Studios, one of two confirmed locations.

The other is the Hobbiton site in the Waikato town of Matamata. Filming there has reportedly been postponed to summer.

Sir Ian McKellen blogged about the first rehearsal this week.

"I was at the cast's first joint rehearsal where Peter Jackson, with Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, invited our comments on their script so far.

"This is as close to bliss as an actor can get."