My holidays: Graham Henry

Rugby's taken him all over the globe, only to confirm that 'there's no place like home'.
All Black coach Sir Graham Henry with a kingfish in the Bay of Islands - a place he loves spending time in.
All Black coach Sir Graham Henry with a kingfish in the Bay of Islands - a place he loves spending time in.

What was your greatest holiday?

We've had many great holidays here and overseas. Several places in New Zealand come to mind - Bay of Islands, the Milford Track, Waiheke...

If we bump into you on holiday, what are you most likely to be doing?

Depending where we are, you may find us out fishing, walking or kayaking. If it's the evening you may find us enjoying a barbecue - good food and wine - with good friends and family. That's really important to us and definitely what we enjoy the most.

If we could teleport you to one place in New Zealand for a week-long holiday, where would it be?

It could be anywhere throughout the country and I'd be happy. We have a place on Waiheke so we love to head there as often as we can, and the Bay of Islands - especially Russell. We have great friends in both places so they are also part of the attraction - and, of course, the fishing. Banks Peninsula is a special spot for us, we've spent many enjoyable holidays there and even spent our honeymoon there.

Queenstown and Wanaka are spectacular. We live in a wonderful country and travelling overseas does make that apparent; there really is no place like home.

What's the dumbest thing you've ever done when travelling?

I'll never forget this, in 1997 we were living in Wales and our children were doing their OEs in the UK so Raewyn had planned a family trip to Rome. Due to rugby commitments, I had to leave a day later than everyone else and, in a rush, I found myself at Heathrow airport with absolutely no idea of where I was heading in Rome. I had left all the trip details on the kitchen bench - in Wales. Scrabbling for options (note: this was before the mobile phone era had hit us), I managed to get hold of our house-sitter back in NZ, who eventually found a copy of the itinerary just before I was due to board the flight. Since then, I always make sure I have all travel details on me before I leave for the airport.

Complete this sentence: I can't travel without...

...my wife Raewyn. She really is the tour leader when it comes to personal travel. It's a role she relishes and one I more than appreciate. Raewyn is very good on detail and she is always on the hunt for new and interesting places for us to experience. What's my job? Well, I'm the dedicated luggage handler.

What's the best travel tip you've been given?

One of the biggest lessons from travel experiences, be it touring with rugby or family holidays, is to travel light. I think we all pack too much and never use half the things we have planned for. So put simply: take two bags instead of three. Less stress and less to lose.

What was the most memorable meal you've had while travelling?

On an All Black tour to France, we were lucky enough to dine at a Michelin five-star restaurant in Paris and it was absolutely incredible. The chef, an ex-French rugby player, prepared the team a 10-course degustation menu and the dishes exceeded all of our expectations. But it was the whole dining experience that impressed us. The staff's professionalism and the restaurant design were all first class. I've never had a dining experience since that was quite like that one.

Favourite airport to land at?

Airports can be interesting places, I've seen a fair few, but again, there's no feeling like landing back home.

What's the next trip you've got planned?

We have two trips planned this year and both will be overseas. First, we are heading to Canada and we're looking forward to experiencing the Rockies rail journey and a four-day salmon-fishing tour. Rugby is usually part of the scene; I am speaking at a British Columbia Rugby event and also coaching the local representative team, the British Columbia Bears. After Canada we'll head to New York, where I'll be speaking at a high-performance sport conference; I'm looking forward to catching up with friends from around the world who will also be attending the conference.

The second trip will see us head back to Europe this year: we're looking forward to seeing Monte Carlo, Burgundy, Paris and visiting good friends back in Wales, where we were fortunate enough to live for four years.

Sir Graham Henry is Coastguards' MayDay Ambassador - an appeal in its fourth year that raises much-needed money for its vital volunteer training programme. There's still time to donate at hourforcoastguard.co.nz.

- NZ Herald

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