Hobbit habit hard to break
It has been more than 10 years since Billy Boyd was in New Zealand.
The Scottish actor who played the hobbit Peregrin "Pippin" Took, in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy was last here for the Wellington premier of the final instalment, Return of the King.
He was back this weekend for the Armageddon pop culture expo in Auckland.
"It was quite emotional, actually. It has been a while. I love this country. It is nice to come back," Boyd said of his return to Middle Earth.
The expo attracts thousands of hardcore fans, many dressed in character, who come to meet their pop icons. Boyd gets as much of a buzz from meeting the public as they do from seeing him.
"It is quite exhausting, because you have to be switched on. People have come to meet you so you have to be ready to meet them," he said.
"But the energy you get from people is quite incredible, like you wouldn't get anywhere else. All this positive energy about stuff that you have done makes it a really exciting thing," he said.
He is proud of his cultural legacy as part of with the LOTR trilogy, and enjoys being spotted by the public.
"I am very happy for people to say, as they pass me in the street, 'Oh, there's a hobbit.'
I don't mind that, I like that. It is something I am very proud of, so it is not something I am desperate to try and change," he said.
Despite being rather short and hairy, Boyd's range extends well beyond hobbits. He has being doing a lot of theatre, including a role in MacBeth at Shakespeare's Globe in London. And he is lead singer in band Beecake.
Short on time around his public appearances in New Zealand, the avid surfer wants to get out for an early morning wave on the west coast. Although he hopes it goes better than his last trip to Raglan during LOTR filming.
"Raglan split my face open. The first time I went was the day before the first-ever photo shoot of the four hobbits together for Vanity Fair magazine. I went down to Raglan and the board hit me in the face and split my face open," Boyd said. He couldn't reveal much about the Kiwi wildlife he and fellow LOTR hobbit, Dominic Monaghan, who played Merry, are filming here for TV show Wild Things.
"I want my son to get over here, it is such a great place for a family. (New Zealand) will always be special in my heart," he said.