17 April 2024

The S4C cameras have been following comedian Kiri Pritchard-McLean, chef Chris 'Flameblaster' Roberts and presenter Alun Williams on an unforgettable tour of New Zealand.

The three were touched by the love and respect that the people of New Zealand had for Wales.

Their escapades will be documented in a new series, Alun, Chris a Kiri yn Seland Newydd, which starts on S4C on 17 April and can also be seen on S4C Clic and BBC iPlayer.

The vegan comedian, fiery cook the fussy presenter fly to New Zealand to experience everything the country has to offer.

There's plenty in common between both countries – a love of rugby, sheep farming and spectacular scenery, but the three were surprised by the special connection New Zealanders have with Wales.

Although Kiri is a Māori name, and her mother lived in the country for a while, she hadn't visited beforehand:

"The people had such pride in their small country and the Māori language. They hold Wales as a good example when discussing the use of Māori names on signs.

"Wales is often the butt of the joke in the UK, so it was lovely that they understood so much about our country – and that we didn't have to explain that Wales is a country next door to England.

"They know about our culture; they know that we celebrate and protect it. I think we all had a profound experience when we visited Māori Te Puia heritage centre in Rotorua, because we all know what it is to come from a country that has a marginalised culture that needs protecting and that we're very proud of."

This was also Alun and Chris' first visit to New Zealand.

Alun says:

"We didn't have to explain to a single person where Wales is. I think there might be something about a feeling of unity between small countries. We probably wouldn't get that same response in Australia."

It was the welcome and the produce that made an impression on Chris:

"The standard of the food, and their respect for their produce was superb. Everyone knew about Wales wherever we went, and we had such cool experiences. We really got on well, and had so much fun. I knew Kiri before, but I'd only seen Alun on the Heno sofa."

"I soon learned that the joke was on me" adds Alun "when we went wild swimming; we didn't have any swimming costumes, and Kiri found some (very) tiny speedos for me!"

"We'd never met before. I think that was part of the idea for the series – that three totally different people come together and have new experiences. Luckily the three of us clicked straight away. This is one of the best things I've ever done" says Alun.

"As a Welsh learner I was nervous to go on this trip, but the whole experience made me realise I have a better relationship with the language than I even knew.

"It gave me a lot more confidence to speak the language, and the difference between my Welsh at the beginning to the end was massive.

In the first episode the three begin their journey in Queenstown, a town on the south western side of the South Island that has an unexpected connection to Wales. And no visit to Queenstown is complete without experiencing one of the most famous white knuckle rides in the country, the Nevis Swing.

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