Middle-earth is distributing millions of stamps and coins to commemorate the new Hobbit movie premiering in Wellington next month.

This follows an exclusive deal reached between NZ Post and Hollywood-based Warner Bros, including world-wide rights to produce legal-tender coins linked to the first movie in Peter Jackson's trilogy of films based on The Hobbit.

The state-owned enterprise will not disclose how much the deal is costing it, except to say no taxpayer funds are involved and it is confident of covering its costs through bumper sales.

"It's not just about money for us - for Warner Bros, Peter Jackson and NZ Post, it's all about positioning New Zealand as Middle Earth," spokesman Simon Allison told the Weekend Herald last night.


"Millions of these stamps will be put on envelopes and sent around the world."

But Mr Allison, who is sales and marketing manager for stamps and coins, said NZ Post expected to "easily get our money back", on the basis of record sales for sets issued between 2001 and 2003 to celebrate the earlier Peter Jackson trilogy of Lord of the Rings movies.

"When we did Lord of the Rings, they were by far and away the biggest stamp issues NZ Posts has ever produced - by miles."

Sir Ian McKellen, who reprises his role as wizard Gandalf the Grey in the series, is depicted on a new stamp which he said captured the essence of his character.

"The pointy hat, the beard and the illuminated staff - the $1.90 stamp is pure Gandalf."

Collectors can invest in one coin for as little as $29.90 or buy sets rising in value to $10,995 for pure gold currency in $10 denominations.

Each coin will be inscribed in English and "Dwarvish" and come in a collectable folder, case or box with an individually numbered certificate of authenticity.

The stamps and coins are not due to go on sale until November 1, but Mr Allison said he would strongly recommend people pre-order sets through NZ Post's website to avoid any disappointment.


Although millions of stamps were being produced, a reprint was unlikely. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey premieres in Wellington on November 28 before its general release on December 14.


* Gold coins, $1 face value, priced at $29.90. Depict Bilbo Baggins, in the presence of Thorin Oakenshield, signing the contract which will lead him on his adventures; a set of three others also available for $85 showing Gandalf, Thorin Oakenshield and dwarves.

* Silver coin with gold plating, $1 face value, priced at $149. Shows Bilbo Baggins setting out at the start of his epic quest.

* Silver coin set, $1 face value, priced at $889 for a set of six. Limited to 1000 sets and shows Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf, Gollum, Thorin Oakenshield, Elrond and Radagast.

* Premium gold coins $10 face value. Single coin depicting Bilbo Baggins, priced at $3695, 1000 available; or a set of three for $10,995, limited to 250 sets depicting Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf, Thorin Oakenshield.


Six stamps showing:

* Bilbo Baggins (70c)

* Gollum ($1.40)

* Gandalf ($1.90),

* Thorin Oakenshield ($2.10)

* Radagast ($2.40)

* Elrond (2.90)

* Presentation packs cost $29.90 and collection book $385