Tourism New Zealand had the red carpet ready to be rolled out for the A-list cast and crew of
during their South Island movie shoot.
Offers of private plane rides, stays in exclusive lodges accessible only by helicopter and a champagne picnic on a mountaintop were among premium experiences drawn up by Tourism NZ for Hollywood stars Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling during February's fortnight of filming.
The trio gushed about New Zealand on social media during their two weeks in the Queenstown region, where they were working on upcoming Disney movie A Wrinkle in Time.
But despite the national tourism agency offering tailored itineraries for the movie's stars, it appears they soaked up some of our best sights via their own pocket.
Internal documents reveal the lengths the national tourism agency went to behind the scenes to try and host the A-listers.
Documents released to the Herald on Sunday through the Official Information Act reveal publicly-funded Tourism NZ drew up a number of "destination experience" packages - brochures offering premium junkets worth thousands.
Carefully tailored to the individual tastes of Winfrey, Witherspoon and Kaling - and other cast and production staff - different versions of the brochures included offers of private plane and helicopter trips over Queenstown, Milford Sound and Mt Cook, a champagne picnic on top of a mountain, a guided trip of Franz Josef Glacier, dining at Arrowtown's top Saffron restaurant, a four-wheel drive safari, a "luxury art tour" and vineyard tours.
"Kia ora, nau mai ki Aotearoa Ms Winfrey (Hello and welcome to New Zealand)," one of Winfrey's brochures said.
"Tourism New Zealand will not take any photos of you enjoying your experience, however we encourage you to share your experiences with family, friends and on social media.
"Please select an experience from the following options..."
Tourism NZ's general manager of corporate affairs Deborah Gray said 11 people on the production accepted gifts - which did not include Winfrey, Witherspoon or Kaling.
"As per the released information, experiences were accepted by Jim Whittaker (fly fishing) and the younger cast (Tekapo Springs) - a total of 11 people in all which includes management of the younger cast members," Gray said. "Tourism New Zealand has paid $621.95 for these. "
Gray said Tourism NZ would have footed the bill for millionaires Winfrey, Witherspoon and Kaling had they accepted.
"We would have had a conversation with the provider, but with Tourism NZ offering to host them, I expect Tourism NZ would have paid for some if not all," Gray said. "Sometimes we get things free of charge or at a discount rate."
Gray said there wasn't a specific hosting budget for the stars "it just would have been captured within our overall budget."
Winfrey, Witherspoon or Kaling took to social media to display a number of glamorous trips during their stay, including helicopter rides and luxury digs. Gray said "presumably" these had been done privately.
Witherspoon's Instagram posts went out to more than 8.6 million people, while Winfrey was just behind on 8.4 million followers. Comedian Kaling also holds considerable sway, with 2.5 million followers.
The documents also show Tourism NZ staff met with Disney in Los Angeles, with Gray saying it was for planning purposes and cost $13,000.
A Wrinkle in Time is slated for release in 2018. The movie has an estimated budget of $144m.
The film is based on the popular children's book by author Madeleine L'Engle, originally published in 1962.
Other big names cast in the film include Chris Pine, Zach Galifianakis, Storm Reid and Rowan Blanchard.