Mark Wahlberg has shared a special message for his Kiwi fans after the opening of his first Wahlburgers restaurant in New Zealand last week.
The actor took to Instagram to share a video message for his New Zealand customers, saying, “Kia ora! Massive congratulations to the New Zealand Wahlburgers team and the Mustaca family for opening our first ever Wahlburgers in Viaduct Harbour at Princes Wharf at Shed 22.
“Our first ever restaurant in New Zealand, what an honour.”
The Hollywood star went on to say that he “cannot wait” to visit New Zealand and enjoy a cold beer and a Kiwi-style burger with his fans.
“God bless you and your beautiful country, I cannot wait to visit soon,” he added, before recalling his time in Aotearoa filming The Lovely Bones with Sir Peter Jackson.
“I had the most remarkable time in one of the most beautiful countries in the world. I can’t wait to see you again, God bless you and thank you.”
Wahlberg spent some time in Wairarapa in October 2007 shooting the film at several locations near Greytown and Masterton. He starred in the film alongside Saoirse Ronan and Rachel Weisz.
It comes after Aotearoa’s first-ever Wahlburgers restaurant opened last week at the former Euro restaurant site as eager diners queued up to experience the actor and his brothers’ joint venture.
Wahlberg, who has an estimated US$350 million net worth, founded Wahlburgers in 2011 with his brothers Donnie and Paulie Wahlberg. Two more Wahlburgers restaurants are set to open in Tauranga and Queenstown this year.
The NZ branch will be operated by the Mustaca family, which owns Australia’s largest independent cinema chain, United Cinemas.
Last year, Wahlburgers Australia and New Zealand chief executive Sam Mustaca scouted locations across Tauranga, Wellington and Christchurch.
He said the team are “thrilled to bring Wahlburgers to guests in New Zealand”.
“We had been following the concept for years and with its natural ties to the entertainment industry, bringing Wahlburgers into the experience at United Cinemas just seemed like a perfect fit,” he said.
He said the decision to expand to New Zealand was motivated by their Kiwi staff overseas.
“They’ve always spoken so beautifully about the place. If it wasn’t for those people we probably wouldn’t have come here.”