It's a long way from Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London but last night actor Sir Ian McKellen appeared on the tiny stage of the King's Theatre in Stratford. That's Stratford, Taranaki - not Stratford-upon-Avon.

Sir Ian is in New Zealand to reprise his role as Gandalf in The Hobbit movies, but has taken time out to tour 11 centres raising funds to rebuild Christchurch's historic Isaac Theatre Royal.

"The last time I was on stage in New Zealand was at the Isaac Theatre Royal in Waiting for Godot," Sir Ian said. "I love this beautiful old theatre and want to help restore it as soon as possible."

The acclaimed actor promised to down his wizard's staff for the series of one-man shows - but an elven-sword and his Gandalf movie-set chair did make an appearance last night.