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Ed Sheeran, master of surprise. (Image: Archi Banal)
Ed Sheeran, master of surprise. (Image: Archi Banal)

Pop CultureFebruary 10, 2023

Mapped: All the places Ed Sheeran has given people a surprise

Ed Sheeran, master of surprise. (Image: Archi Banal)
Ed Sheeran, master of surprise. (Image: Archi Banal)

Never has one man surprised so many with so little. 

Ed Sheeran has a “bad habit” of popping up when you least expect him. You could be minding your own business watching Shortland Street and there he is strumming a guitar at The IV. You could be catching up on Game of Thrones, and there he is, sitting around a fire. You could be watching the bronzed babes of Home and Away and there he is, wearing black jeans on the beach in Summer Bay. It would appear no fictional location is safe from Surprise Sheeran. 

But this year, Sheeran has taken his chronic compulsion for cameos to new lengths, now popping up unannounced in real life locations across the country. The Spinoff’s data department has been hard at work charting Sheeran’s every movement since he arrived in Aotearoa some time in January, and has compiled this compelling interactive map of every location that has been hit with a case of Surprise Sheeran over the past month. 

Read on for further information, and if we have missed a case of Surprise Sheeran please get in touch with so we can continue to update our database. 

January 22: Brac and Bow, Featherston

Surprising the Wairarapa with the biggest celebrity appearance since Kate Winslet went shopping at the Masterton branch of Pagani, Ed Sheeran rocked up to Featherston restaurant Brac and Bow around 11am on January 22 and ordered two pints of Castle Lager and some fries. Duty Manager Debbie Sinclair described it as a “dream come true” to meet her idol, who she remarked looked “like Ed Sheeran” when he first placed his order.

Surprise! At The Bistro. (Photo: Facebook)

Following her initial shock, Sheeran is reported to have delivered a cheeky a “shhh” to Sinclair before settling down for a quiet drink. “To call in to our little town is just such an amazing feeling,” Sinclair told Stuff. “I’m one lucky person that I got the chance to be that close.” After posting a picture with Sheeran to the Brac and Bow Facebook, hundreds of locals expressed their surprise at the visit. “I would have waddled my very pregnant bum down to meet him,” wrote one. “Welcome to the beautiful Wairarapa young man,” wrote another. 

Jan 24-26: Wellington Opera House, Wellington

OK, these were scheduled tour events, but that didn’t stop Sheeran dropping in some subtle surprise elements. “To my surprise, Sheeran is extremely charismatic,” wrote reviewer Frances Chin of the intimate Wellington warm-up gig. 

February 2: Sky Stadium, Wellington 

On the morning of his first big stadium show in Wellington, Ed Sheeran held a (scheduled) press conference but did make some surprising revelations, including that he was staying “two hours out of Wellington” (Palmerston North?) and had “watched the first 20 minutes of The Hobbit” with his kids (‘I See Fire’ does not feature until over two hours and 30 minutes into The Desolation of Smaug!). He also saw “Kiwi birds” at the zoo. 

During the gig that night, Sheeran would surprise fans by inviting someone from the audience up on stage to help him remember the lyrics to ‘Galway Girl’. The lucky duck was 10-year-old Pippa from Palmerston North (further adding to thesis that Ed stays in Palmy). “I was really nervous when I got up on stage, and I’m really glad I remembered most of the words,” she told Stuff. Much like this one, the article also noted Sheeran “has a habit of surprising his fans”. 

February 6: Hamilton Gardens, Hamilton

At around 3pm, the singer-songwriter and his “distinguishable tattoos” were spotted at the Alice in Wonderland roundabout at the Hamilton Gardens. “Not many people noticed him, he was very well hidden with the umbrella,” Ed-spotter Mazoe Skinner told Stuff. The following day, another Hamilton garden attendee Gemma McFadyen expressed her admiration for the master of surprise. “I love that he integrates himself wherever he is,” she said. 

February 7: Hobbiton, Matamata

Perhaps as penance to Sir Peter Jackson for only watching 20 minutes of The Hobbit with his kids, Sheeran stopped by Hobbiton the following day to perform ‘I See Fire’ for unsuspecting Middle Earth punters. “We had an unexpected guest at the Green Dragon Inn tonight” the official Hobbiton account posted on TikTok. “And if we die tonight, we should all die together” Sheeran sang loudly to the room of extremely surprised strangers.

February 8: Absolutely everywhere, Auckland

Buoyed by the bucolic bliss of Hobbiton, Sheeran hit our biggest city on a mission: to surprise more people in a single day than he had ever surprised before. It wasn’t enough that he already surprised the city by posting his custom Whittaker’s block and suggesting it be auctioned off for the flood relief fund – our honorary ruly tourist then popped up at multiple school assemblies to perform a series of mini concerts, including Manurewa Intermediate and Kōwhai intermediate. 

View post on TikTok

Just when you thought he was done, Sheeran posted on his Instagram stories later that day revealing he was on Ponsonby’s Stuart Street, with his chuffed (and possibly surprised) manager, Stuart Camp. This weekend Ed Sheeran will play two shows at Eden Park, where fans have been surprised to see their seats changed at the very last minute, but who is to say if the surprises will stop there. 

February 9: Green Bay Dental, Green Bay

Image: Green Bay Dental Facebook

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the dentist… Sheeran already beat you to it. “Guess who came in for a check up and hygienist clean,” the Green Bay Dental Facebook account posted. “Ed Sheeran. Such a great guy!!” With all his New Zealand shows wrapped up but no confirmation that Sheeran has left our shores, the public is being asked to remain vigilant.

If we have missed a case of Surprise Sheeran please get in touch with so we can continue to update our database. 

Keep going!