Air New Zealand 'officially' invites Stephen Colbert to Hobbiton

Air New Zealand is joining Jacinda Ardern in 'officially' inviting US TV star Stephen Colbert to New Zealand to become a citizen of Hobbiton.

The Prime Minister was a guest on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Thursday (NZ time) where she first extended the invitation to the self-confessed Middle-earth obsessive.

Ms Ardern mentioned flights direct from Chicago to Auckland and now Air NZ has come onboard and apparently offered the comedian a free flight.

"We've sorted the direct flight from Chicago," the airline tells Colbert in a tweet.

An attached video says, "Come on over... would be rude not to accept Jacinda's invite".

Colbert is based in New York, which is about a 13 hour drive or two-and-a-half hour flight from Chicago.

He pointed this out while interviewing Ms Ardern, but she said, "It's close - we consider that close."

Colbert said he'd "love to come", but didn't commit to a timeframe.

Air NZ's Auckland to Chicago route was announced in May. It launches on November 30, with flights lasting just over 15 hours each way, the airline says.