Pop superstar Justin Bieber has called into Auckland's Starship Children's Hospital this afternoon to raise the spirits of the city's sick children.
Bieber, who is here for a three-day promotional tour and is expected to perform at a private showcase at The Cloud this afternoon, called into the hospital around 3pm.
A hospital spokesman referred all questions to Bieber's music label, Universal Music, who reluctantly confirmed the visit.
The trip was meant to be low-key but had turned into a "disaster" as word spread of his arrival, a Universal minder said.
Asked what Bieber was doing there, the minder said he "just wanted to meet some kids".
A Christmas pledge by Bieber raised almost $10,000 for the hospital.
In November the pint-sized pop star launched the Believe Charity Drive and called on his millions of fans worldwide to donate to 20 charities he'd selected, including New Zealand's Starship Foundation.
The foundation raises millions of dollars each year for the national children's hospital.
Later that month Bieber also announced he'd donate a dollar for every copy of his album Under the Mistletoe sold in New Zealand before December 25.
Late last year the foundation said it had received $7852.43 as a result of Bieber's album sales and a further $210.71 in donations.
Earlier today fans gathered outside Auckland's Langham Hotel where Bieber is staying.
Shaelee Hammerton, 15, was outside the hotel at 5.30am. She wrapped herself in a red woollen blanket and waited. Bieber himself had tweeted his location and as Katherine Jeanlee declared: "Justin's tweets are legit."
The girls had been fans from the start, they said, ever since a poufy-haired boy sang over YouTube's digital waves.
"I prefer him now," said Alice Jessett, 15. "He is better."
The girls vowed they would be here all day if necessary to catch a glimpse of the star.
"We have to do it," said Georgia Woods, 16. "We have to do it for Justin."
The last time the teenage superstar was in New Zealand, a hysterical group of girls shoved his mother out of the way and stole his baseball cap. That could be, Katherine Jeanlee pondered, why he was reticent to appear.
"But we will prove him wrong. We can behave," one said.
Other fans used their down time to plot and plan their school cover stories.
One rehearsal involved a teenager girl's absence because of a funeral.
All she needed was a friend to convince a school receptionist that her aunty had sanctioned her absence. It was her only chance at seeing Bieber.
But the friend kept fluffing her lines: "Oh my God, I can't do it," she said.
"Just pretend you are doing a school speech," the would-be funeral attendee replied.
"But I'll sound like an idiot."
"No you won't, you will sound professional."
The friend inhaled deeply.
"Its not my fault if you get detention tomorrow," she said.
"Well we can do it together."
The friend dialled and put the pink covered iPhone to her ear.
The barriers were being set up outside the hotel. A security guard asked the girls to keep quiet. They had started chanting: "Come down Bieber." They had started to sing jolted, out-of-tune versions of his miscellany of musical hits.
There were pilots who had arrived in the early morning, the guard said. They were trying to sleep.
This was none of the girl on the iPhone's concern. She had read to script, learned the word "absentee" and was now giving herself space. She was worried that if she looked to her friend while talking she would crack up. She turned away.
The phone rang.
"Hello I am calling to say that Shirley will not be coming to school today as she had a funeral to attend."
The receptionist asked who she was. The girl's aunty she replied. Would she be in tomorrow, the receptionist continued? She would, the girl said.
Shirley was on the brink of hyperventilation.
Then her friend said "thank you", hung up the phone and put one upward and turned thumb in the air.
Now all she needed was for someone to call in a sickie for her.
Fans are also expected to stake out the Sky Tower bungy, as the singer hinted to Twitter fans he might be keen to recreate his daredevil antics from his last visit, when he threw himself off the Auckland Harbour Bridge.
"Oh yeah I'm going to New Zealand on July 19th!! #BUNGEE."
- © Fairfax NZ News