One of the stars of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit has made an unexpected journey of his own, reportedly returning to Nelson as part of filming for a documentary on New Zealand.
A Nelson Mail reader posted on Facebook that she had seen actor James Nesbitt on a flight to Nelson from Wellington yesterday.
Mr Nesbitt, who played the dwarf Bofur in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy, is in New Zealand filming a 60-minute documentary about the country for UK-based television company Alaska TV.
The show, with a working title of James Nesbitt’s New Zealand, involves Nesbitt travelling around the country meeting real New Zealanders.
In the show’s official announcement, ITV mentions whale-watching at Kaikoura, receiving a temporary moko, and performing the haka, as possible activities.
Filming in the South Island began on Sunday.
Mr Nesbitt and his family spent three years in New Zealand while he filmed the trilogy.
Motueka deer farmer Lester Rowntree said the documentary’s producers had called him several months ago saying they would be in the region soon and were looking at interesting characters, but they had not caught up with him since. ‘‘They didn’t say they were definitely coming, they said they might come.
"I’m only a phone call away, they can call."
His property had 75 horse-drawn vehicles, a bullock team, a ‘‘heap of interesting animals’’ – some of which had been used on the Lord of the Rings.
‘‘There’s no other place in the country like this.’’
Nelson Tasman Tourism international marketing manager Loren Heaphy said she was unable to confirm whether the documentary team was currently in Nelson.
‘‘At the world premiere of The Hobitt James said that Nelson is his favourite place in New Zealand, so it would be wonderful to have him in the region if he wants to come back.’’
Nelson mayor Aldo Miccio said he had not been contacted by the production team, as not everyone called him when they came to town, but joked that he was not too offended by the snub.
Mr Nesbitt had been at the post-Rugby World Cup 2011 final party in Nelson, and he said back then that he loved the region. ‘‘They all love New Zealand full-stop.’’
Any publicity would be great for the region, he said.
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