Hollywood star Ashley Tisdale isn't shy about why she likes New Zealand.
"Kiwis are awesome," she says, between takes on the set of her new movie. "They're really cute, too."
The 22-year-old actress - who shot to fame with young viewers as spoilt rich girl Sharpay Evans in the Disney hit High School Musical - has been in New Zealand for four weeks, shooting the $60 million comedy, They Came From Upstairs.
Tisdale's first feature is set in a rambling old villa transported from Remuera to a farm in North Auckland. Security is tight, and film-makers have asked to keep the location secret. But fans still managed to find the star filming at Narrow Neck Beach.
"There were, like, 20 guys around my age, standing on the side," she says. "I came out and they were like, whistling and stuff. I don't really have that a lot. I usually get the young kids but seeing, like, a bunch of guys waiting, I was like, 'Wow, that's awesome, I don't know what to do. Should I go over and talk to them?"'
Fans might have a better chance of chatting with the star when she's not working. Some of her favourite spots are Waiheke Island, Takapuna beach and Mission Bay. She'll be in New Zealand with her mother until mid-March but before she returns to LA, she hopes to see Auckland band Goodnight Nurse play live.
"I saw their music video on MTV. I absolutely love them, I'm a really big fan."
Described as Gremlins meets Home Alone, the film co-stars acting veteran Doris Roberts (Everybody Loves Raymond) and is produced by Barry Josephson (Enchanted, Men In Black). Tisdale plays a teenager forced to defend the family holiday home from invading aliens.By Rebecca Barry Hill Email Rebecca