TV beauty Jessica Tovey stars in Australia's top soap but when she's away in New Zealand she feels right at home.
Tovey, who plays feisty Belle Taylor in Home and Away, has told of her Kiwi roots and her love for her dad's native country.
And the 21-year-old admitted she would even leave New South Wales to settle in the South Island.
"I'm very proud to be half Kiwi," Tovey told Sunday News. "I could definitely live in New Zealand.
"I do love Sydney and the city noise but I think New Zealand has this incredible calming effect on me and a much bigger appreciation for nature.
"Most of the family I have on my dad's side live in Christchurch, including his mum and sister, (so) I'd probably live near Christchurch near my family."
Tovey, a favourite on Home and Away since joining the cast in 2006, was born and raised in Sydney but has fond memories of crossing the Tasman for many family holidays.
If she were to move across the ditch, she'd consider snapping up property in Akaroa or Takamatua where her grandparents once owned a bach.
"When I was in school I was over there around once a year and I have so many beautiful memories at my grandparent's home," Tovey said.
"The landscape of New Zealand is just so incredible and I always feel so happy travelling there. It really is my second home."
While she is now an experienced member of the core cast, Tovey admits that when she first joined Home and Away aged 18 she was overwhelmed by her new job.
Having worked mostly on the stage with just a guest role on a children's programme she found it daunting joining the long-running soap.
"It was hard not to feel intimidated and nervous about joining the cast," she said.
"This was really my first television role, so it was a huge step."
Tovey said Belle's current storyline battling drug addiction has made a bigger impression on her than any other plot.
"I was really determined to do a good job and I don't think I've ever worked so hard on a storyline," Tovey admitted.
"It was very challenging at points but I have to say I was quite relieved when it was over because it was quite exhausting at points."
Tovey's appeal has seen her endorsing Skechers footwear and Impulse Tease body spray.
But she says she is chasing neither money nor celebrity.
"The fame and fortune side of the business has never really interested me at all," she said.
"I just want to be successful at what I love doing.
"To me just being recognised and considered good at what I do would be success.
"I often watch my work and sit there going, `How could I have done that better or given a more truthful performance?"'
- © Fairfax NZ News
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