What was your greatest holiday?

In 1981, travelling to Gallipoli with a wetsuit and a pair of togs to swim the straits of the Dardanelles, both life threatening and life changing.

What was the worst holiday?

In 1988, on Great Barrier Island in a tent with five kids and a three-day hurricane. Everything was wet and dripping.


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

Definitely swimming, but also paddling my waka ama up the coast or out to sea.

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

I would have to say Whatipu Lodge at the Manukau Heads. Its isolation, its absolute spirituality and its brooding landscape - inspirational and terrifying.

How about for a dream holiday internationally?

I think Paestum, an ancient Greek city in Italy. I can't get enough of it. On the wall of a tomb I think I have spotted me in a previous life. Stay tuned!

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

Attempting to get into China without a visa. In fact, I was travelling on a business card but forgot to show it at the border and was sent back to Hong Kong to sit on the pavement for a day in an endless queue finally making the counter and being told, look in your pocket. You have an entry card. Dumb, aye?

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

... a pair of Speedos and some swim googles.

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

Wash your own clothes and often. Don't talk to strangers.

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

With Oscar Temaru, President of French Tahiti. In the palace, thanking me for introducing him to Nelson Mandela where they talked of independence and leadership.

What's the best thing you've brought backfrom a trip?

A very bad itch. I love scratching!

Favourite airport at which to land?
Rome. The expectation and the view of the Eternal City fills you with absolute pleasure.

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

Rome, to swim the Tiber River. I know it's polluted but it's a great ancient water course drenched in history.

Sir Bob Harvey is chairman of Waterfront Auckland.