An up and close meet with penguins here brought memories of animated film “Happy Feet” to actor Sidharth Malhotra, who also immersed himself in knowing more about the Maori culture and getting a native makeover.

Sidharth, the Tourism New Zealand brand ambassador in India, is on his second trip to the country and he is enjoying many firsts. He said the Penguin Discovery Experience at Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium here was by far his closest meet with penguins.

“This was the first time for me, so I can say that New Zealand has given me so many firsts. It was very special to see these magnificent creatures. They have been very well taken care of and safety measures are very high. It’s good to see how much interest and money they spend in taking care of them, and once you are in there, it’s so much fun,” Sidharth told IANS after the activity.

“I only associate them with ‘Happy Feet’, which is an animated character and they typically look like that,” said the actor, who seemed to be enjoying a penguin’s company as one of them came and sat right behind him.

The penguin meet apart, the “Ek Villain” actor also underwent a Maori makeover by Taaniko Nordstrom and Vienna Nordstrom, creative stylists and photographers duo behind Soldiers Rd Portraits, a concept first dreamed up in 2011.

Based in Cambridge, New Zealand, the two stylists dress customers in Maori regalia for a memorable native-inspired vintage portrait.

Sidharth was excited doing that as it brought him closer to Maori culture.

“I find Maori culture fascinating and I find the people extremely passionate in whatever they do. Their cultures are very ancient. Today I tried some Maori face paints, and it was amazing,” said the actor, who had tried a temporary traditional Maori tattoo on his visit to the country last year.

He also went jet boating with his friends here, followed by an engagement with children who tried some Bollywood dances on a Rajasthani folk song like “Kesariya balam” as well as some Maori fusion Indian dancing.

(The writer’s trip is at the invitation of Tourism New Zealand. Nivedita can be contacted at [email protected])

By Nivedita

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