The fugitive on the run from police for three months was talkative and
co-operative and "came across quite friendly", police have said.
William Stewart, 47, appeared at Christchurch District Court today where he was charged with offences including dangerous driving, breach of parole, breach of bail, possession of cannabis and possession of utensils.
Stewart - sporting a long beard - had a bandaged left hand and appeared to be handcuffed during the appearance.
He made no plea and Judge Brian Callaghan remanded him in custody until June 10.
Inspector Malcolm Johnston said police thought Stewart was relieved that his time on the run was over.
"He made a comment that he had had a good run," Mr Johnston said.
He said Stewart looked unkempt but had obviously been eating.
"He wasn't starving to death, that's for sure," Mr Johnston said.
He said Stewart appeared to be "doing a runner" when police first found him but quickly decided against it when he saw that he was
Mr Johnston said Stewart spoke to police about "general topics" such as the weather and "seemed quite chatty in that regard".
Police earlier sent a warning to Canterbury farmers about lax security at which they say allowed Stewart to evade capture.
Canterbury police district commander Superintendent Dave Cliff said Stewart's arrest today was a wake-up call to those who fail to lock
houses and vehicles.
He said rural properties were often kept less secure than city ones.
That had made it easy for Stewart, to steal vehicles, food and other items, and to stay on the run from police for three months.
Stewart was captured early this morning after police were called to a farm at Mayfield, 35km northwest of Ashburton, after a farmer disturbed an intruder allegedly trying to steal a quad bike.
"It's a good reminder for rural people, particularly around South Canterbury, that we really want them to take a little bit more care in terms of security, particularly around keys for vehicles, locking houses, all those basic things..." he told Radio New Zealand today.
"It's a good wake-up call and we don't want another individual to do the same sort of offending."
During his three months on the run, Stewart was thought to have stolen around six vehicles, including cars, 4x4s and a motorcycle.
He was arrested on a prison recall warrant, issued in October after a parole breach, but would face other charges, police said.
The hunt began in earnest when he avoided arrest after threatening a police officer with a metal bar on February 10.
Stewart then went bush, evading police cordons and searches involving the armed offender's squad and police helicopters.
May 21 marked his 100th day on the run.
Mr Cliff said Stewart's lack of associates and addresses to go to made it more difficult for police to find him.
It was "probably quite timely" that he was captured before temperatures dropped further as it could be "reasonably unpleasant when you're living rough" in winter, Mr Cliff said.
Stewart became infamous for his efforts at evading capture, making international headlines and gaining fans on a FaceBook page.
After he carved a thank you note signed `Billy the Hunted One' into a table at a property where he was believed to have stolen food, he was made the subject of a song by a Timaru man, and an Ashburton property developer was selling "Where's Billy" T-shirts on Trade Me.
Mr Cliff said it was "really very disappointing" for police that Stewart was being painted as a folk hero.
Stewart was to appear in Christchurch District Court this morning.
- NZPA and NZHERALD STAFF