Sir Peter Jackson spoke of his pride at making The Hobbit in New Zealand today, as thousands of fans crowded into central Wellington for its world premiere.
"It sort of makes your head explode if you think too much about it," he told ONE News.
"I'm a proud Kiwi, I was born in a hospital just two miles up the road there, and I just love making films here.
"The crew are fantastic, the support we get from the country is really great and I don't want to go anywhere else in the world. I'm one of the lucky people in the world who get to have their hobby become their profession and that's a real blessing."
Fans from across the world lined Courtenay Place to meet the stars of the film, where a 500 metre long red carpet had been stretched out for the glamourous event.
Some Tolkien fans had spent the night on the street in anticipation of getting close to the film's actors.
Sir Peter told reporters earlier in the day that he had doubted whether the movie would ever get made when the future of film studio MGM looked in doubt.
He also said the shoot was very nearly moved to the UK before the Government stepped in to offer financial incentives.
"It was certainly a relief to walk on set that first day and start shooting," he said.
"It was the happiest shoot I've had really, it was like we got all the bad stuff out of the way first and the actual making of the movie itself was a very happy experience."
Prime Minister John Key was among those walking the carpet, and said the negotiations to finally get the film made in New Zealand were worthwhile.
"I think Governments can only do things when people support them and I think the New Zealand public in the end got it, that if this was the premiere happening in London we'd be thinking 'hmm not so good'.
"I think for New Zealand you need to take a few risks, we took one and we pulled it off."
ONE News reporters described the scene at the red carpet as "manic", "electric" and "great fun". Many of the thousands of fans were dressed up in Middle Earth inspired costumes and wizard hats.
Andy Serkis who reprises his role as Gollum in the new film said the red carpet was incredible.
"It's just unbelievable, you can only do this in Wellington in New Zealand," he told ONE News. "These films belong here, they were made here by a film maker who is so loyal to these fans and it comes back, it's just shared totally."
Martin Freeman who plays Bilbo Baggins said he had already seen the film and felt fans were in for a treat.
"I saw it two or three nights ago and it's beautiful, yeah, I'm really really pleased with it," he said. "I'm pleased for Peter and pleased for all of us it was a lot of work, a lot of hard slog, and it's a beautiful film."
Other stars said how pleased there were to be back in the city they had called home for several months while working on the movie.
"This wasn't just another job this was a lifestyle change," James Nesbitt who plays Bofur said. "I brought my daughters here, it changed their lives, working with Peter changed my life, this is a great place to make a movie and a great place to live."
Nesbitt said he liked New Zealand's gentle way of life, education system and excellent wine, while Richard Armitage, who plays Thorin Oakenshield, shared his love of the capital.
"The whole experience of shooting the film was enough for me, seeing it on Sunday was a bonus and coming to Wellington and sharing this with everybody is beyond belief," he said.
"When the plane took off from Wellington for the last time I was really choked to leave but coming back here for this has been incredible."
A specially decorated Air New Zealand jet made a fly past of the premiere and earlier Neil Finn, who wrote a song for the movie, entertained the crowd ahead of the arrival of the film's stars.
New Zealand audiences will be able to see The Hobbit: An
Unexpected Journey when it hits screens on December 12. The Hobbit:
The Desolation of Smaug is due for release in December 2013 and The
Hobbit: There and Back Again is due out in July 2014.