Waitomo has had an outbreak of celebrity fever as the latest couple to emerge from American reality TV series The Bachelor hit town.
Jason Mesnick and girlfriend Molly Malaney cuddled in the glow-worm cave and cavorted down the Waitomo rapids last weekend as part of a promotional tour of New Zealand. Their appearance is proving a multi-million-dollar windfall for Tourism NZ.
"We struggle to be noticed in the United States," Tourism NZ chief executive George Hickton said.
"(Mesnick) likes New Zealand and he's done a good job of promoting us."
And it would seem New Zealand has been given a rose by the American. "I love it. New Zealand is awesome," Mesnick said.
Filmed in Queenstown and the Bay of Islands last year, The Bachelor proved a ratings bonanza, with the two episodes drawing 14 million and 15 million viewers respectively in the US alone.
The couple flew into Auckland last Thursday as part of a special Air NZ matchmaking singles' flight and were kept on in the country by Tourism NZ which is filming material for distribution in the US.
The crew captured footage at Rotorua, Waitomo, Waiheke Island and Milford Sound. Mr Hickton said the organisation wanted to build on the profile The Bachelor had created for New Zealand.
Mesnick and Malaney plan to spend a day in Queenstown after the camera crews have finished before flying back to their Seattle home.
- Waikato Times