A giant sculpture of Gandalf has been hoisted onto the facade of Wellington's Embassy Theatre, as the city prepares to host the world premiere of the film The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

A crane started work on lifting the 9.4m tall sculpture into place about 4am today and work was completed about 5pm.

Wellington City Council closed part of Kent Terrace in the central city and realigned overhead bus cables to accommodate the installation.

It depicts Gandalf scratching a mark into the front door of Bilbo Baggins' home.


Production designer Dan Hennah said ideas for the work started about six weeks ago.

"We did some concept art and got approval from (movie studio) Warner Bros, who are paying for it."

He said the basic structure was an aluminium truss which was bolted together.

"On top of that we've got a layer of ply, on top of that a thin layer of polystyrene, which we've carved shapes into, a layer of resin and paint on top of that - and of course hula skirts, which make up the grass."

Rain this morning was the only glitch in getting the installation up, otherwise it had "gone like clockwork".

When it came down in January it would go into storage, Hennah said.

Post-production for the film, directed by Lord of the Rings trilogy director sir Peter Jackson, is wrapping up, but the first time crew will get to see the finished product will be at the premiere on November 28.