Home tech Live Kiwi traveller’s celeb airport encounters: Guess who I met at the airport?

Kiwi traveller’s celeb airport encounters: Guess who I met at the airport?

9 min read

It was just days ago that the nation was all a fizz with one of the news events of the year – our PM was hailed a  “f….. G” for passing a bottle opener while pouring herself a glass of wine in the Koru Lounge. 

It will be a day that goes down in the history books.

That meeting, between commoner and the ruling elite (!), is not a rare occurrence, especially on these isles, and we asked our Stuff Nation contributors for their close encounters with “dem folk off the TV”.

Leading the charge was Philippa Hyndman, who got a bit excited seeing a comedian she particularly liked.

Your celebrity airport encounters
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“I was on a flight from Wellington to Auckland in December 2017 to see a musical. About five rows ahead of me, I spotted comedian Tom Sainsbury. I didn’t want to be one of those weird fans who goes up to famous people and talk to them, especially when they can’t really move anywhere, so I decided to wait and see if I could say ‘hi’ when getting off the plane.

“When I got into the terminal I spotted him up ahead, and began walking fast until I was walking beside him. What I really wanted to say was ‘hi sweeties, it’s me Paula Bennett’ in the same accent he uses, but all that came out was the embarrassingly ‘Are you the guy from Facebook, Maz?’ (One of his many characters).

Tom Sainsbury, that Snapchat dude.


Tom Sainsbury, that Snapchat dude.

“I told him that my friend and I were big fans. He shook my hand and said ‘hi, I’m Tom’. I had a quick chat with him until I met one of my musical theatre friends in the main terminal. I said bye to Tom and trying to be subtle, began awkwardly pointing towards him, trying to get my friend to see who I was talking to. She had no idea who he was.” Ouch.

Also in the “ouch” category is Samuel Hill, who starts off his message: “Not really celebrities, but I met Jono and Ben.”

He continues: “They were incredibly approachable, warm, friendly and jokey. They talked about their change of plans that day due to bad weather, and that they were still trying to work out where to go instead of their original plan.

“I asked for a selfie with them, and they were more than keen, and Jono asked the lovely Air NZ lady behind the counter if she could take the photo of us three.”

Staying with NZ TV “heroes”, Alan Gordon got a small chat in with the ever-marvellous John Campbell.

“He was waiting to intercept and interview a polly who had just lost his seat, and was about to get off the plane at Auckland Airport domestic terminal. I started the conversation with a cheeky remark, and he was quite happy to engage, and we chatted while he waited for his subject to appear. Really impressed!!”

He doesn’t divulge what the cheeky remark was.

Of course, it’s not just celebs and politicians who run the gauntlet of domestic air services, but also sports stars.

A contributor, who wanted to stay anonymous, once got two for the price of one.

“I love my football, and had just been to an All Whites World Cup qualifier game in Wellington. While waiting in line to get on a flight, Benji Marshall arrived.

“He was about to start a stint with the Blues Super Rugby Squad; it was big news at the time and he happened to be talking to NZ football legend Wynton Rufer.

“I went over to ask for a photo, and Wynton grabbed my phone thinking I wanted a photo with Benji. I obliged, but had to ask if I could have a photo with him too, which I was more excited about.” Sorry Benji.

And finally for this batch, Allison Sullivan had a close encounter with the PM; nope that one, or that one, the one before.

“Flying to Queenstown with a US friend in 2011, we ended up seated behind John Key and a couple of his staff. I told my US friend ‘that’s the Prime Minister’. He totally thought I was yanking his chain (after all, his head of state gets around in a private 747).

“John must have heard us talking, so he leaned over the seat and introduced himself. I had to pull up some news articles before my friend actually believed that he’d met the top man on a commercial flight … once I convinced him, he was pretty pleased with himself!”

If you’ve had a celebrity encounter at the airport, let us know here.

Maybe you’ve shared a joke with Taika Waititi, grabbed a politician’s suitcase by accident or had an awkward lift moment with the Silver Ferns – share your experiences with us.

Was the famous person actually remarkably normal? What did you talk about? Did they surprise you? Have you stayed in touch or was it more of a fan-girl/boy moment on your part?


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