"I'm not one of those guys who's constantly buying Lonely Planets," Rhys Darby confesses. "I'm more the guy who picks one up at the airport on the way to the destination and browses through it."
"In fact," he suddenly exclaims, "I did that on the plane journey to Japan!"
You'll be able to see for yourself if Darby's last-minute cram session helped any as he navigates his way around his new travel show, Rhys Darby: Big In Japan.
"One of the things I've done in my life is always confidently jump in the deep end," he explains when asked about the show. "That might be a bit of a New Zealand trait. We tend to do things without worrying too much about it, hence the old, 'no worries mate, she'll be right', and then figure it out later. There was certainly an aspect of that to it."
As someone more accustomed to carefully shielding caution from the wind rather than throwing it willy-nilly into the wind, I ask Darby where his confidence comes from.
"For me, I guess it comes from my very inner being. I'm the last sibling in the family of five. I was a mistake by nine years. The other four were a fixed family living together and I was sort of dropped off at the other end when the parents split up," he answers. "I've always felt that I've been fighting the good fight to have attention and to go, 'Hey! Look! I count. I'm supposed to be alive!' even though I'm probably not. Luckily, I had the sense of humour which, if I didn't have that I don't know what I'd be. Maybe a musician."
We both laugh at the gag which immediately lightens the vibe as he continues.
"I really felt like I was screaming at the world to include me. That confidence coupled with some talent enabled me to get into acting and obviously stand up. You've got to be confident when you're onstage in front of however many people."
In the very first episode, Darby literally dives into the deep end when his samurai training plunges him into a freezing cold river, high in the Japanese mountains on a chilly winter morning.
"They didn't even tell me until the night before. They said, 'oh, by the way, tomorrow you'll be stripping down and getting in an ice-cold river'. I think they purposefully didn't tell me because I might have started making a few calls to the agent," he says, laughing. "I didn't have time to call anyone!"
It's fair to say he was stitched up. Especially when you see him, neck-deep in the water and positioned right beside a little old Japanese man. There's absolutely no way for Darby to get out and also save face.
"That dude was like 74," Darby grins. "I hadn't met those guys until that morning. I remember walking to the river behind him thinking, 'If he's doing it, come on Darbs, you've got to get in there. You can't wimp out now."
It's a good example of his wide-eyed enthusiasm and intrepid give-it-a-go spirit when seeing things not going exactly as he thinks they should. When you think samurai training you don't think 'ice water', you think 'samurai sword' and you think, 'cool fun'. Yes?
"I almost shat myself," Darby replies, deadly serious. "The samurai sword is so heavy and sharp. I thought it was gonna be fun too but literally the first thing you learn is how to pull the sword out of the holder and put the sword back in. I learned a couple of moves but I was so panicky about the situation of putting that damn thing in without slicing my fingers off I was like, 'lets move on, eh?'. Because, god those things are sharp."
Suddenly, he's back in full Rhys Darby mode, exclaiming, "They don't show you that in the samurai movies. They don't show ninjas delicately pulling their swords out so they don't slice their fingers off."
A less deadly, but no less brutal, activity he also threw himself into was Rakugo, a traditional comedic art that has incredibly strict and precise rules governing its performance.
"I met this old guy and he'd been doing it for like 40 years, this art of doing comedy with two props. One is a hanky and one is a fan and they tell these jokes that, honestly, they're like old dad jokes. They're pretty bad," he says. "But it's the art of telling them. You've got to do them a certain way."
He explains that the jokes almost aren't the point as people have heard them all before, instead it's the tradition that the audience is there for.
"It blew me away," he admits. "I put on the kimono and had a real go at it."
As he's a beloved comedic veteran of both stage and screen, I ask Darby how he got on.
"The guy training me, he liked me and we got on, but in the end he went, 'Well . . . sorry, you're not quite good enough to do this.'"
Who: Rhys Darby
What: New travel show Big In Japan
When: 8:45pm, this Thursday on TVNZ 1
Rhys Darby on his travelling adventures
Who has most inspired your travels?
As a kid I read Tintin books religiously and then quickly moved on to a James Bond obsession. Seeing the world, remote locations and interesting cultures went hand in hand with those adventures.
What's your approach to packing for an overseas trip?
The first thing I do is check the season, weather and cultural norms. I like to take my time and pack over a few days in the lead up to departure.
What's the first thing you do when you get home?
I hug my wife and kids, then take my bags up to the bedroom and simply lay on the bed. Then I find the cats and hug them too.
What's your favourite thing about travel?
Taking time to reflect. Millions of humans have walked this planet and seen and touched the things that I could too. We have created so many beautiful things, yet there are so many mysteries on this planet yet to be solved, and that drives me to travel.