Customers getting their morning coffee and breakfast got a surprise when Kiwi actress Lucy Lawless arrived at their tables.
Wearing a black apron, she cheerfully asked customers: "Is there anything I can get you?"
Lawless - of Xena: Warrior Princess and Spartacus: Blood and Sand fame - greeted customers at Cafe Melba in downtown Auckland's Vulcan Lane yesterday to help raise money for the Starship children's Hospital.
The cafe, which celebrated its 15th birthday this week, has been donating to Starship for the past five years and this week donated 50c from every coffee sold.
Lawless - who worked for about an hour yesterday - served several customers who were clearly awestruck.
Mates Grant Fife, Zach Hitchcock and Gus Pickering were about to tuck into their breakfast when they realised who had just brought their drinks.
"I didn't recognise her at first," Mr Pickering said. "I think I was a bit awestruck."
Mr Hitchcock did recognise the star: "I watch her on Spartacus."
Mr Fife said it was great to see a celebrity giving back: "I think that it's a wonderful thing she's doing - especially for a good cause like Starship."
Lawless, who is also a member of the hospital's Board of Trustees, said it was a good chance to get people involved with Starship, which was in much need of new medical technology and equipment.
"Science and medical technology is improving at an exceptional rate and right now there's a lack of technology here. This will help Starship get there," she said.
Cafe co-owner Shawn Pope said the aim was to raise at least $10,000 for Starship this year.
He said news of Lawless' arrival had brought excitement to regular customers.
Lawless said: "Melba has been helping Starship for years - I'm only too happy to come out and give them a little bit of love."By Vaimoana Tapaleao Email Vaimoana