My mum's family is from Christchurch and Dad's is from the Bay of Plenty so once or twice a year when I was little, we'd make that long pilgrimage up State Highway 1 from Christchurch to Tauranga in our little bubble car. We'd always stop at Ninn's Bin in Kaikoura, it's a caravan where they sell fresh crayfish, we'd drive along, pop off, buy a cray, have it for lunch then go on to Picton to catch the ferry.

I was about 9 when we moved to Wellington, to Paremata, a little coastal community that looked out to Mana Island. I joined the sailing club with my best friend Charlotte and that's where I developed my love of the outdoors.

Studying physical education in Dunedin, we did lots of weekend missions, exploring Otago and Southland, or we'd head to Arrowtown, Queenstown and Wanaka for skiing. As part of that degree we did lots of outdoor pursuits, a week camping at Paradise near Glenorchy included going up river valleys and exploring the ranges and a week snow caving in the Cardrona Valley. A lot of my university memories are tied up with these outdoor adventures.

In my third year of university, my friend Jo and I did a season in Japan on the ski fields of Nagano. That was my first time in a country where I couldn't speak or read the language but I loved it, I loved that sense of being lost and relying on intuition to get around. Jo and I loved it so much we almost didn't return to Dunedin, we thought we'd just stay there and learn Japanese and ski and mountain bike forever. Such innocent 19-year-olds - but we came back and finished our degrees.

Advertisement

My first job was as a sports reporter, based in Hawke's Bay and I fell in love with Napier. I love the light - it's golden; I love the landscape, the art deco architecture and the whole wine and food scene is amazing. I still love going there to visit as my mum lives there now.

I went on my OE a bit later than most, I was 27 and we spent the first eight months in Scotland. We did everything on a budget, saving all our pennies and making the most of the cheap fights. We did missions all through Europe including a week in Malta in the middle of the most dreary Scottish winter. We loved the architecture, the ocean and the food. We also went skiing in Andorra, we drove through the Pyrenees and went to Languedoc-Roussillon in the south of France. Here we drove to Carcassonne, a magical walled medieval city that's in lots of movies. That was a highlight.

Before heading back to New Zealand I travelled through Turkey with a girlfriend - it was the perfect send-off. We did Gallipoli and travelled the interior, the coast and back to Istanbul. Those amazing palaces and through the spice markets, anyone who's been there knows the smell is incredible. It's such a different environment to anything you see in New Zealand.

Coming to Wairarapa, I segued from sport reporting into tourism. There are similarities as the people are positive and outgoing, passionate about what they do. There's an incredible wine and food scene, artisan producers, our untouched coast and villages are really beautiful. Some people think of Wairarapa as it was 25 years ago - a rural service region, and although it's still based around a rural economy, things have diversified. People come with big ideas, they're innovative and creative. The housing market is booming and because it's only an hour from Wellington, that's attractive for commuters.

Geographically Wairarapa is a really big area, but it's possible to do a bit of everything.

When people visit I'd definitely suggest a trip to the coast, Castlepoint or Cape Palliser.

There's the beauty and isolated ruggedness of Castlepoint with the limestone reef and the lagoon. Cape Palliser is wild with the most amazing colour of ocean and sky. Then I'd suggest taking your time to go through villages like Martinborough and Greytown.

Greytown reminds me of Arrowtown. There's been lots of work done on the main street, there are new businesses and the trees are stunning in all seasons.

I have three boys, the eldest is 11 and the twins are 8. We love going to Castlepoint, it's beautiful on a hot sunny day and it's invigorating in a howling nor'wester.

We're going to Melbourne to visit my dad this year and the boys are so interested in the process of travel. The passports. What movies they'll watch on the plane, what they'll eat, how big is the plane? Who will I sit next to? What is the money like in Australia? You forget as an adult, how important the actual journey is.

Further information: see wairarapanz.com