It was love at first bite.
American telly pin-up Jason Mesnick swooned over Queenstown as he wrapped his lips around a Fergburger and washed it down with a glass of chilled grog.
The former star of reality TV hit The Bachelor made a whistle-stop return to the resort this week to film a new online TV show. In it, he scours New Zealand and Australia to find his favourite town.
With a woolly hat disguising his famous features, Mesnick mingled with punters at popular resort eatery Fergburger
And he tells Mountain Scene this time he’s got more than just romance on his mind.
“Instead of girls, I’m looking for the city I love,” he says. “I’m falling for Sydney but Queenstown has my heart.”
He adds: “Burgers are my favourite thing in the world and this is one of the best I’ve ever had.”
Mesnick, 34, first came to the resort in 2008 to shoot part of the 13th series of The Bachelor, shown in NZ on TV2. He returned last year to propose to former co-star Molly Malaney.
He flew into the resort on Sunday to film an online series promoting Australia and New Zealand for US-based travel agency Down Under Answers.
On his two-day visit to the adventure capital, Mesnick tested out bungy jumping, Shotover Jet and a Skyline gondola ride for his upcoming eight-webisode series.
He’s also sampled parts of Australia and Auckland for the yet-to-be-named show, aimed at bringing more people Down Under.
“The webisode is to show how incredible Queenstown is but it’s also a tongue in cheek take on The Bachelor,” Mesnick reveals.
It’s almost a year since the former solo dad proposed to Malaney at the luxury Kohara Lodge near Arthurs Point– the place they got together during filming in 2008.
Mesnick says he decked out the pad in “cheesy Bachelor style” with champagne and roses before slipping a diamond ring into the bottom of Malaney’s champagne flute.
“I think we both look at The Bachelor and laugh about the experience now. It’s not really us,” he says.
Married life is “good” and they plan to eventually have kids.
Mesnick famously proposed to fellow Bachelor contestant Melissa Rycroft at the end of the series before dumping her on TV during a reunion show. His televised wedding to Malaney was in February this year and attracted more than 15 million viewers in the United States alone.
The new online series is the first time Mesnick has been in front of a camera since tying the knot.
This time round, he’s doing it on a shoestring budget and with the help of friends and connections.
“It’s kind of fun to have my own control and not let ABC edit it anymore.”