My happy place: Andrew Grainger, actor

Andrew Grainger and wife Sacha Hickman, daughter Ava Hickman, 4, and son Max Hickman, 7, enjoy family fun at Centennial Park in Campbells Bay. Photo / Getty Images
Andrew Grainger and wife Sacha Hickman, daughter Ava Hickman, 4, and son Max Hickman, 7, enjoy family fun at Centennial Park in Campbells Bay. Photo / Getty Images

My happy place is Centennial Park in Campbells Bay. My house backs on to it, and my wife and I take our two little kids down there. When I'm there I get a feeling of tranquillity and calmness.

There's a lovely big swing that someone has put up, and a lovely bench where we can sit and see out over the sea, and lots of interesting nooks and crannies for the kids to explore, and lovely big walking tracks.

We can sit on the hill and watch the kids build dens - and the hills are great for carting down. It's just a lovely spot, and it's become quite special.

It's a hidden jewel. When you're down there in the middle of the bush you wouldn't even think you were in the city.

It's great - natural beauty in the middle of suburbia, with so many different trees and butterflies and wildflowers. I look out over my garden and I see so many sorts of birds, it's unbelievable - from kingfishers to rosellas and kereru.

I'm English, and when I moved to New Zealand with my Kiwi wife I told her I wanted to be somewhere far removed from life in the centre of London, where I had been. When the sun is shining here it's the best place in the world. It's beautiful.

I've been really busy with work in the past few months - I've been busy rehearsing 360, and last year I did Chicago, and this year I'm doing a TV show, so it's really, really full on. Once I finish rehearsals it's lovely to spend time in the park. The kids might be at school, or I might have my daughter with me and we'll take a little picnic and go and hang out, maybe roll down the hill.

It's a great place for my children to grow up, being so close to nature but still close to the city and all that that has to offer. And it keeps them off the blimmin' computer, which is great. It teaches all those good values - you go out and you build a den, you use your imagination, you create stories.

If I'm alone, I like to sit on my favourite bench and chill out, or practise my lines. Going there keeps me grounded.

There's a great truth about nature. It sounds really silly but as an actor you always want to have a truth and simpleness in your work. When you're seeing something natural, that seeps into you. I like that feeling.

- as told to Bronwyn Sell

- Herald on Sunday

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