My happy place would have to be Queen Charlotte Sound in the Marlborough Sounds. It's amazing to sit on the foreshore at Picton and see the tree-line going right down to the water's edge, the stillness of the water, clouds slipping across the tops of the hills like white cotton. It is quite magical. There's no one around, it's still an untouched waterway.

I was born in Timaru and our family used to holiday at the Blue Anchor Motorcamp in Picton. We would travel from Timaru in a Mark III Zephyr with three boys in the back seat, the trailer behind us with all the camping gear, and the yacht on top of the trailer. The yacht doubled as a dinghy with a Seagull outboard on the back.

After one holiday, when I was 9, we had a family conference and Mum and Dad asked us if we should move to Picton. We all wanted to, we loved it so much.

I went to primary school in Picton and my parents bought a place in Endeavour Inlet called Punga Cove. I would spend a lot of time on the water - yachting or sailing or fishing or snorkelling.


I did 18 months of correspondence school until I was sent off to boarding school in Blenheim. I loved any opportunity to escape the dormitory and get out on the water, back on the Sounds. I had two labradors and a pet goat called Pumpkin and they would come out on the water with me.

I was never lonely - there were always people coming and going and I had incredible freedom.

I went to Australia when I was 18 and first saw bands such as the Hoodoo Gurus, Paul Kelly and the Dots, and Icehouse - then called The Flowers - in pubs in Sydney.

I couldn't believe that these bands had such amazing productions. So when I came back at the age of 20 to Marlborough I started championing for bands to come to the Woodbourne Tavern in Blenheim.

I offered to do the poster runs for two tickets on the door. I met bands like the Netherworld Dancing Toys, Sideways, the Mockers and the Dance Exponents. I progressed from working with the bands to getting a job on the local paper and writing about music. I moved to Auckland when I was 21 to work on the Auckland Star and went to New York in 1996 as vice-president of Sony's music publishing team, but I came home to Marlborough whenever I could.

Queen Charlotte Sound is still my happy place, my escape. There are some rather fantastic holiday homes there now, but really it is still untouched, with the same baches and houses and infrastructure that were there 25 years ago. It really is special.