The leader of the Green Party shares his travel memories

What was your greatest holiday?

About 12 years ago, when I was living in London, I was fortunate enough to be able to travel to Egypt and spend two weeks there. I stayed with a friend of mine in Cairo, so I got the "insider's guide" to the city. That included a tour of The Egyptian Museum with a woman who could read and translate hieroglyphs, which was amazing. I also spent a few days in the Siwa Oasis, in the Western Desert, and slept a night under the stars. A phenomenal trip.

And the worst?


On the same Egypt trip, when I got food poisoning from a dodgy shish kebab in Dahab. It was an unpleasant 24 hours in what was otherwise the holiday of a lifetime.

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

Either heading into the ocean or hiking through our beautiful mountains and bush.

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

Any mountain in the Deep South or any beach in the Far North.

How about for a dream holiday internationally?

On my bucket list is to do the overland/sea route from New Zealand to London: catch a boat to Australia, work your way up to Cairns, catch a boat to Indonesia, hop across to Thailand, Vietnam, through China, follow the Silk Road through the Middle East, then into Turkey and up through Europe from there.

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


I once went down a waterslide in Poland head first. I banged my head on the way out of the tube at the bottom, and winded myself at the same time. I very briefly sank to the bottom of the pool. Thankfully, I came right.

Aisle seat or window seat? Window.

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

... my wife, Annabel.

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

Don't wear black in a mosquito area.

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

Probably the roast bug, covered in peanut butter, that I ate when I was staying in a rural village in Zimbabwe. I don't know what kind of bug it was, but it was pretty big — and pretty ugly. The Russian reinterpretations of Italian pasta dishes I came across in Moscow were also ... imaginative.

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

Some really beautiful masks from Indonesia.

Favourite airport to land at?

In New Zealand, my hometown Wellington; overseas, it'd have to be Singapore — they've figured out everything a traveller might want, and it's all there.

What's the next trip you have planned? All over New Zealand for the election campaign — Auckland, Whangarei, Christchurch, Nelson, Rotorua, Hamilton, Palmerston North... I'm very fortunate that my job takes me to every corner of our country.

James Shaw is leader of the Green Party