Avatar's Cameron buys up land in NZ hobbit country

Wed Feb 1, 2012 7:45pm EST
 
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WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Avatar is moving in next door to the Hobbit.

Successful U.S. film director James Cameron has snapped up more farmland near the New Zealand capital, Wellington, not far from Oscar-winning colleague Peter Jackson.

Cameron, the director of "Titanic" and "Avatar," two of the highest-grossing films ever, has bought more than 1,000 hectares (2,470 acres) in the Wairarapa region, around 80 km (50 miles) northeast of Wellington, land information records show.

Cameron is the new owner of two separate properties in the area, which is renowned for its rolling coastal farmland used for beef, sheep and dairy farming, along with vineyards.

Media reports said he had paid around NZ$20 million ($16.7 million) for the land.

The records show that Cameron and his family, who currently live in Malibu, California, plan to "reside indefinitely" in New Zealand, and operate both properties as working farms.

Jackson, possibly New Zealand's most famous export after he directed the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, owns a large estate about 20 km (12 miles) away.

It boasts a 20-metre high castle built on an island in a lake, along with pieces of sets from his Oscar-winning films. Jackson's next film "The Hobbit," the prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, is due out later this year.

Cameron's property move has hardened expectations that he will make large parts of two sequels to his 3-D science fiction epic Avatar in New Zealand. ($1 = 1.20 New Zealand dollars)

(Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu; Editing by Paul Tait)

 
<p>Director James Cameron arrives at the 63rd annual DGA Awards dinner in Los Angeles January 29, 2011. REUTERS/Phil McCarten</p>