What was your greatest holiday?

This has to be a toss-up between my first trip to New Zealand when I got to see glow-worms (as a scientist I've made a living out of making bacteria glow in the dark, so this was a big deal!) and a trip to Scotland visiting ruined Border Abbeys and castles.

And the worst?

On one of my early trips to New Zealand, I did a stopover in Malaysia and was subjected to a very long bus trip during which the man in the seat behind me spent the whole journey trying to stroke the backs of my legs with his bare feet, and sticking his hands between seats trying to touch me. As the only white woman on the bus, I felt too intimidated to tell him to get stuffed.


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

Lounging in a hot tub, reading a book by Christopher Brookmyer. Or swimming.

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

The Abel Tasman national park for a spot of kayaking.

How about for a dream holiday internationally?

A world tour of glowing creatures - so the first stop would be Hawaii to see the Hawaiian bobtail squid, which uses glowing bacteria as an invisibility cloak. Next I'd be off to the US or Japan to see fireflies, beetles that glow to attract a mate. Then Puerto Rico to kayak among the glowing dinoflagellates (tiny creatures that light up lapping waves on a beach). Finally, back to New Zealand and a hunt for giant glowing earthworms.

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

Visiting Legoland straight after Disneyland. I've never had any interest in going to Disneyland but I'm obsessed with Lego, so a couple of years ago we had a family holiday to California and did Disneyland, then Legoland. I really wish we had visited them the other way around, as Disneyland blew Legoland out of the water.

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

To visit the Musee des Arts et Metiers in Paris. It's a fantastic museum that's off the beaten path. Dedicated to invention, science and technology, it's in an old church.

Auckland University microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles is at the Escape! festival in Tauranga at 5.30pm on June 3, and 2.30pm and 4pm on June 5. See the full programme at taurangafestival.co.nz.