The actor loves crowds while on holiday, as long as they are not in the same place as him. But he'll make an exception for Harrison Ford
What was your greatest holiday?
Perhaps the time I went to the Isle of Lewis, one of the bleakest places in the world. We were there 31 days, and it rained 30 out of 31 days. But it was a place of unmatched beauty.
And the worst?
The worst holiday I ever had was in Sardinia. It was at a very expensive resort. It was a last-minute booking and it was the only place we could get in to. It was mid-high season and it was up in Silvio Berlusconi territory. I absolutely loathed every minute of it. It was full of the "beautiful people" and I was grumpy for the entire week. I refused to go to the beach until 6.30pm when all the "beautiful people" had buggered off the beach and I'd go for a swim undisturbed. However, one night there was one other couple at the beach and it was Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart. This guy came striding over and said: "Hi Sam, I'm Harrison." I said, "oh, yes, you are" and he said, "shall we have dinner?" So, we had two or three nights drinking and he was telling stories, and his stories were better than mine and what was easily the worst holiday I'd ever had turned out to be rather good at the end.
If we bump into you on holiday, what are you most likely to be doing?
Avoiding people and I'll be anywhere but the beach.
If we could teleport you to one place in New Zealand for a week-long holiday, where would it be?
For me, going home to the farm is a holiday. So it's got to be that. But if you insist on me not going home, I'm going to say Doubtful Sound on a nice boat, with some excellent food and wine and some pleasant, quiet company.
How about for a dream holiday internationally?
I really want to go to Iran and I'm desperate to go to Egypt. I think it's probably a really good time to go to Egypt because tourism is down. I look forward to going to the Valley of the Kings with a great absence of people from, shall we say, the Northern Hemisphere.
What's the dumbest thing you've ever done when travelling?
I've done it several times, and that is to leave my passport in the safe of the hotel, which means actually going back to the hotel, retrieving the passport, changing your flight and spending a whole day somewhere grim like London Heathrow Airport.
Complete this sentence: I can't travel without . . . A sleeping pill.
What's the best travel tip you've ever been given?
It's not a tip I was given, it's just something I've discovered. I've discovered that it's better to go to the places where people are not. There's no point going to Venice now, you know you're just going to be overwhelmed by a tidal wave of people looking for fridge magnets. But there are less-obvious cities. I love Italy, and less obvious cities like Lucca are just marvellous and there's not many people there. It's not that I'm people-phobic, but even in places like Venice, if you take that little alley there and then turn left and turn right again, you can find quiet spaces.
What was the most memorable meal you've had while travelling?
I think probably my father's last great meal. It was in Paris, it was at a restaurant called Lucas Carton, and it's all changed now but it was a very traditional place and we ate the 10-course degustation menu with matched wines and we got pretty drunk. We ate duck, which was a 2000-year-old Roman recipe, quite the most wonderful thing to eat, and my father relished every, every mouthful. After that he started to get unwell and he had cancer and that was the end of him. But that was his last great meal and I remember it with great affection.
What's the best thing you've brought back from a trip?
Fridge magnets. I'm now an avid collector, the daggier the better, and I bought some on the Uncharted series we've just done around the Pacific. I've got magnets with bouncy bears from Alaska and hula girls from Hawaii and you name it, the whole Pacific is on my fridge. I've also got a really bad one from Istanbul, which is a sort of bridge, I think it's probably supposed to cross the Bosporus Strait but it looks like you'd fall off it and plummet to your death. It's a really bad one — the badder the better really. There's no such thing as a tasteful fridge magnet.
Favourite airport at which to land?
I don't think there's any good airport to land at. But taking off could be a good experience with a good lounge and I'm going to say Sydney is the best for lounges.
What's the next trip you have planned?
I'm going to England to do a movie, so that's probably my next trip so the next landing will be Heathrow, which is terrible. Sorry to finish on a bum note!
• Uncharted with Sam Neill starts Sunday, September 2, at 8.30pm on Prime.