Lunchtime browsers in Queenstown's Mall yesterday had an opportunity to see Lord of the Rings stars tucking into brunch and bubbles, but anyone with a camera was sent packing.
The $365 million movie's publicity department was working in overdrive to keep the paparazzi to the far end of the Mall, a public part of the resort.
"Sorry, no interviews and no photographs," The Southland Times was told.
A handful of women's magazine journalists and photographers sat at a distance, dejected, as Elijah Wood (Frodo Baggins), Billy Boyd (Pippin), Dominic Monaghan (Merry) and Orlando Bloom (Legolas) dined in public within throwing distance. Sean Astin (Sam) was missing from the group. He had gone sightseeing in Queenstown with his wife and three-year-old child.
"The boys are just lovely and delighted to be here, very open," Air New Zealand Queenstown Winter Festival spokeswoman Alexa Forbes said.
But the movie publicist was firm that no one take pictures of the group.
The group had enjoyed its time in the resort, Ms Forbes said. It had attended the Jacob's Creek Hollywood Ball on Friday night, when the media had 5 minutes to take pictures of them, and gone snowboarding at Coronet Peak on Saturday, before unexpectedly joining sponsors and members of the public for the American Express Long Brunch yesterday.
The five flew out of Queenstown at 1pm for Wellington to continue filming the Tolkien epic after a month-long break.