As well-known Kiwi actor Stelios Yiakmis walks up Ballarat Street, childhood memories of growing up in Queenstown come flooding back.
“I remember going to school on this road when it was a gravel track,” he says, walking back to the historic Stone House on Queens-town Hill’s Hallenstein Street, where he used to live.
“One day I was running late to school and I tripped, and pretty much face-surfed down it. I also remember getting my motorbike licence on Ballarat St.”
Long-time local and senior constable Chris Blackford was doing the testing.
“He made me drive up the hill and come back down. That was enough for him, the fact that I could do that without falling off. He said ‘Don’t fall off it’, and I never did.”
At the top of Ballarat St, he had his first cigarette with his father.
“My father lit up and said ‘Do you want one?’ I was about six, so I said ‘What?’
“He lit one up and I puffed it, inhaled and pretty much fell to the ground.
“And he said ‘Don’t ever do it.’ And I never did.”
Yiakmis, 46, was in town for Showbiz Queenstown’s The Sound of Music production. He was invited to attend a 30-year reunion of the show – in 1982 he played lead character Rolf.
Since then he’s gone on to take up major television and film roles in New Zealand and Australia – including on Shortland Street in the mid-1990s, McLeod’s Daughters and last year’s Underbelly NZ.
He’s just signed up to play a role in a new South Pacific Pictures TV series, by the creators of hit show Outrageous Fortune.
Yiakmis was put up at the Stone House last weekend. It’s now visitor accommodation, but he says it’s pretty similar to how it was when he grew up there.
“Everywhere I look there’s just history.”