Celebrity chef Des Harris reveals his Kiwi holiday highlights from a life in travel
What are your favourite memories from childhood family holidays in New Zealand?
Loads of wild beaches, anywhere and everywhere coastal around the Wellington region, especially the Wairarapa. I remember my poor sore ears from the continuous hail of wind. Castlepoint was a bit of a trek from where we lived, but I have fond memories there of simple family time spent kicking around the coastline.
Where is your favourite off the beaten track/secret spot in New Zealand to get away from it all?
It used to be Māhia peninsula out of Gisborne before it was developed. My wife and I honeymooned there a long time ago. Great memories of beautiful weather and calm blue panoramic ocean from left to right as far as the eye could see.
If you were heading on a family getaway now, where would you go?
Waiheke Island. So close and easy to Auckland. I like easy! Especially with how busy I am these days. Waiheke has such a holiday vibe, nice beaches and so many great eating / dining options.
What's your dream New Zealand road trip?
Every Christmas break we pack up the kids and drive home to Wellington. This is a ritual for us and a much-needed regroup spending time with our loved ones. A trip which is getting quicker every year thanks to the expressways (and to the kids being older). More recently on a family holiday, we discovered Northland right up to Cape Reinga on the Twin Coast Discovery Highway. Sand dunes, Ninety Mile Beach, Cape Reinga lighthouse are all great New Zealand family experiences that don't cost you anything.
And if you could choose one ultimate, luxury, dream holiday in NZ, where would you go?
I don't like skiing and I prefer a warmer climate when I holiday. This time of year I would keep it close to home. I would helicopter into Hurakia Lodge on Rakino Island. It's a hidden gem in the Hauraki Gulf. I want to be staying somewhere that's secluded but the accommodation and amenities are luxurious. I can totally unwind and relax with my family. And drink wine.
Des Harris is the new culinary director for the Hilton Auckland, working across the hotel's food and beverage options - Fish restaurant, Bellini bar, private and in-room dining. hilton.com
For more New Zealand travel ideas and inspiration, go to newzealand.com