The air above Takaka and Motueka was buzzing with the sight and sound of helicopters ferrying actors, crew and equipment to the film's location, the remote Mt Olympus near the top of the Aorere Valley.
Filming was to start on Tuesday for the Peter Jackson-directed trilogy, and publicist Claire Raskind said the crew had taken full advantage on Monday of clear, calm conditions to transport filming equipment up the 1500m mountain.
A reduced crew of 50 people, including five to six principal actors, were in the area for filming.
Ms Raskind declined to comment on what scenes were to be shot on Mt Olympus, and which of the film's star-studded cast would be on location.
The film crew will be in Golden Bay until Friday, when they will continue the next leg of their South Island filming excursion.
The base camp at Takaka Aerodrome was a hive of activity on Monday, filled with trucks, vans, trailers and helicopters.
Tight security policed the aerodrome, with a Three Foot Six Productions security guard refusing entry to a Nelson Mail reporter and photographer.
Security has been an issue for the production, with previous locations in the Hutt Valley being marred by an allegation of assault by security staff, and of theft.
A security guard said the crew had started early to make the most of the weather, and the whole process had "moved very quickly".
Wholemeal Cafe owner Wayne Green said business had picked up considerably with the film crew in town.
Mr Green said his was the only cafe open on Sunday, and took full advantage of the increased custom. Then yesterday, a catering order for 50 crew with 10 minutes notice kept the kitchen busy.
"It's great for the town. We can't do anything but benefit from it," he said.
A Golden Bay resident said Takaka's quiet main street had been filled with a convoy of enormous caravans and trucks on its way to the aerodrome on Sunday.
"It was quite impressive. They filled up a good part of the main street," she said.
The laid-back Golden Bay attitude was displayed by one retailer, who said she had hardly noticed the action.
"If anyone from Hollywood walked in here I wouldn't even know who they were. If it was someone from Shortland St that would be a different story," she said.
Golden Bay Department of Conservation area manager Peter Lawless said the area the film was to be shot in was very remote, with large, rounded granite formations.
The Mt Olympus site was the first choice of the production company, and was ideal from DOC's perspective because it was not home to many rare plants.
It would take six to eight hours to get into the site with a four-wheel-drive vehicle, he said.
Golden Bay ranger Greg Napp was to be on location with the film crew monitoring their progress and advising where they could film, he said.
By Kirsten Newman