One Question Quiz
Happy memories. Image: Archi Banal
Happy memories. Image: Archi Banal

Pop CultureAugust 18, 2023

A brief history of Jason Momoa having the best time ever in New Zealand

Happy memories. Image: Archi Banal
Happy memories. Image: Archi Banal

Can you even call yourself a New Zealander if Jason Momoa hasn’t visited your town in an All Blacks jersey? Alex Casey looks back at the movie star’s endless nationwide tour.

It happened when I least expected it. We were waiting for a table a Tanuki’s Cave, a film festival start time breathing down our necks, when he walked in. Giant lumbering frame, messy low bun, trailed by someone with a lanyard around their neck. It was him. Hollywood celebrity Jason Momoa was breathing the same yakitori-laced air as me. Punters twitched around the room as they slowly caught on, stealing glances and then stiffening back up in that extremely funny and unsubtle New Zealand way. 

In a way, it was amazing it hadn’t happened sooner. Given the Game of Thrones star’s deep connections to Aotearoa, and the fact that he chose to film his new Apple TV show Chief of War here (with many more projects lined up), it was starting to feel like everyone from Cape Reinga to Bluff had been charmed by Jason Momoa at some point over the last year. If you thought Ed Sheeran clocked up a fair few miles giving people surprises, “Gweeee’s Jason!” (“Heeeere’s Jason” in Dothraki).

From snowy hot tubs in Queenstown to nude biking around a West Auckland shed, here lies the unauthorised and likely unfinished history of Jason Momoa having an incredibly nice time in Aotearoa, and making headlines every step of the way. 

September 17, 2022: Make way for Momoa

Bowling in through international arrivals in a snazzy bowler hat, Momoa was greeted with a pōwhiri on September 17. Before boarding the flight that brought him here, he had revealed his brand new head tattoo in an Instagram video and gushed about his imminent return to our shores. “The best part is, it [the plane] goes to New Zealand finally, again.” 

September 19, 2022: Momoa meets All Blacks, gets presents

His Aquaman flippers had barely touched the ground, and already Momoa was mixing and mingling with his favourite All Blacks, receiving a signed jumper and generally having what appears to be the single greatest day of his life. [I was] so starstruck yesterday hanging with da boyz… [it] blew my mind,” he wrote on Instagram. “I’m still smiling. I’m so very thankful to have meet you all – mahalo for the signed jerseys and amazing memories.” 

Da boyz

October 2, 2022: Momoa causes “pretty big buzz” at Baduzzi

Viaduct dwellers were left clutching their meatballs when Momoa and a bunch of All Blacks visited Italian-inspired restaurant Baduzzi last year. Momoa ordered “a lot of seafood” and “ate heaps of fresh pasta, venison meatballs, lamb meatballs, T-bone steaks”, owner Michael Dearth told Stuff. “He was smashing it.” He also ordered a magnum of 1998 Sassicaia wine (which he later signed) and an off-menu bowl of aglio e olio. When in Rome!

January 26, 2023: Momoa! At the Marae

A flurry of headlines to welcome in the New Year as Momoa was welcomed onto Hoani Waititi marae ahead of filming his new Apple TV series. “Visitor to Glen Eden at the moment lol” someone posted in the Glen Eden community page, accompanied with some extremely blurry yet undeniable images of the star. Councillor Josephine Bartley later posted a grinning selfie with Momoa, welcoming him to the city and thanking him for bringing his show here. He appears to be having a very, very nice time. 

January 29, 2023: Momoa crashes a wedding

There is much to anticipate ahead of one’s big day, but about the last thing Woman’s Day editor Sebastian van der Zwan could have predicted was the arrival of Jason Momoa to his wedding at a Ponsonby bar in January. Alas, Momoa was told there was a private function on, and was turned away. Van der Zwan caught a glimpse of the star, but reported stern vibes from his entourage not to approach. “A few people from my wedding came outside after me and were screeching, as people at weddings tend to do: ‘Jason Momoa! Jason Momoa!’” he told Stuff. 

February 25, 2023: Momoa takes Te Matatini

We had barely recovered from the sartorial serves from Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, when even more glamour descended upon Te Matatini. Momoa stopped by the final day of the festival, snapping selfies with Temuera Morrison, King Tuheitia, and members of Te Pāti Māori, and sharing a bunch of performance clips from his nice time. “What an amazing day in Auckland,” he wrote on Instagram, “Ola loa ka loina Maori! [The Māori tradition is alive and well!]” 

March 26, 2023: Momoa takes shirt off for cyclone relief

To show his support for those impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle, Momoa made a surprise appearance at the Maranga Rise Up relief concert in West Auckland, where he promptly shed his shirt and threw it into the crowd. The appearance was best captured on the Whakaata Māori Instagram account, set to a rousing remix of Ginuwine’s ‘Pony’ and Britney Spears’ ‘Toxic’. 

May 1, 2023: Momoa gets naked in local shed

Mere days later, Momoa stars in a Men’s Health video which includes a generous tour of his New Zealand “shed” and fridge. Greeting viewers in nothing but a fluffy pink bathrobe, can of Guinness in hand, he opens his fridge to reveal shelves of strong Kiwi values: rows of Steinlager and a pack of pre-sliced Mainland tasty cheese. One of us! One of us!

May 14, 2023: Momoa at the Fast X premiere melts media

Fortuitous timing meant that Momoa was here for the premiere of Fast X, in which he plays wide-eyed, scrunchie-wearing villain Reyes. Thankfully for our local media, he was doing interviews, allowing each and every outlet (apart from The Spinoff which is odd given how chill we are about meeting celebrities) to send in a representative to do something weird. 

And boy, did we deliver. ZM’s Hayley Sproull sat on Momoa’s knee and later collapsed on the floor. The Project’s Kanoa Lloyd offered to marry him so that he could get a visa. Jono and Ben goaded him to shave a chunk out of Ben’s eyebrow. Jack Tame asked “are you a car guy?” And The Edge’s Nickson gave him a league jersey (more presents, of course). 

May 30, 2023: Momoa gives Taika Waititi a present

At a point, one has to stop getting presents and start giving them. As captured on TikTok, Momoa had his pal Taika Waititi over to his shed (clothed this time) to give him a nice Leica camera for his birthday. While most of the comments on TikTok gushed over the thoughtful and personal gift, user ‘asl’ had other questions: “steinys in a brown bottle?” Makes you think. 

View post on TikTok

June 30, 2023: Momoa bids ‘farewell’ to NZ, gets another present

Posting on his Instagram on the last shoot day for Chief of War, Momoa shared the crew wrap gift – a customised quick-dry towel. “It’s our last day in New Zealand then we’re wrapping, it’s been a long run. Love you, everyone,” he told viewers. “More to come.” 

August 3, 2023: Momoa enjoys a birthday hot tub

More to come INDEED: to celebrate his 44th birthday, Momoa ventured outside in snowy Queenstown and treated himself to a hot tub session. “Never in my life, 44 years, did I ever get in a hot tub and it’s snowing baby,” he roared in endless nice-time ecstasy. “Cheers everybody, love ya.” He was also spotted at the airport walking a dog. This man… lives here. 

August 5, 2023: Momoa goes to the All Blacks in Dunedin

He was spotted cheering on the ABs against the Wallabies at Forsyth Barr Stadium earlier in the month, but even more impressive was what happened at the airport. “The team helped escort a very special guest to the airplane last weekend,” Dunedin Airport posted on Facebook. “Aquaman found time to test the AES strength on the way to the aircraft.” If being CARRIED to your plane isn’t the nicest time someone can possibly have at an airport, I don’t know what is. 

Koru eat your heart out (Photo: Dunedin Airport Facebook)

August 9, 2023: Momoa launches vodka, gets another present

Everyone knows that no farewell to a country is complete without launching your own vodka range at the top of said country’s tallest building. This terrific Stuff account of the evening includes the charming detail that Momoa kept getting distracted by the people walking around the outside of the Sky Tower and couldn’t “stop waving and calling to them”.

Perhaps his head was still spinning from yet another gift exchange also reported that day, where Tana Umaga gave Momoa one of his old All Blacks jerseys in exchange for a Harley Davidson hoodie. “Bro, I love you so much man” Momoa said as Umaga signed the jersey. “‘99 dude, I was a kid watching you bro.” So nice to make one little boy’s dreams come true.

August 11, 2023: Momoa spotted in unregistered Range Rover

“Actor Jason Momoa has been riding around Ponsonby in a flash Land Rover – but it’s not technically fit for the road with the rego having expired more than a year ago,” Stuff reported just last week, accompanied by some genuinely hilarious photos of Momoa hanging out the passenger’s side of his best friend’s ride in a fluffy jacket, not giving a single hoot. 

“The Automobile Association has a warning for Momoa,” the story continued. “If the vehicle is not renewed, it could face being de-registered and could not legally be driven on New Zealand’s roads.” Not to worry, once he coughs up the $54.74 to renew the rego, Momoa will be back on the road to jump in more hot tubs, get more presents, and crash more weddings soon enough. 

Keep going!