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That'll be two Hobbits and a Gandalf

SOMETHING as shiny, but not quite as precious, as the ring from the film adaptation of JRR Tolkien's Lord Of The Rings series could soon be used to do your weekly shopping -- if you live in New Zealand, that is.

Newly minted Hobbit coins, featuring characters such as Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf, are to become legal tender in the country.

It will issue the "only official legal tender commemorative coins from 'Middle-Earth' ahead of the release of the first of The Hobbit trilogy, a series of prequels to Peter Jackson's cinematic Rings franchise.

The most expensive coin, made from one ounce of pure gold, will set you back NZ$3,695 (€2,342) despite having a face value of around ¤6. The cheapest single coin costs NZ$29.80 (€18.59).

The coins will be available to buy from November 1, but it is unlikely such coins will be spent like normal money, with collectors expected to boost its face value sky high.

New Zealand, where the Rings trilogy and upcoming Hobbit movies were filmed, experienced a massive boost in tourism after Jackson's Oscar-winning original trilogy came out. It has since branded itself "100pc Middle-Earth" ahead of the first Hobbit movies' release at the end of this year. Ian McKellen will reprise his role as Gandalf and Martin Freeman, most famous from The Office television series, will play the central character Bilbo Baggins in the latest film. It is a quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the clutches of the evil dragon Smaug.

Cate Blanchett, Elijah Wood, Stephen Fry and Billy Connolly will also feature in the film.