Kiwi author James Russell's latest book, The Dragon Defenders: Book Two, a novel for 7-12-year-olds, is out on November 1.

What was your greatest holiday?

Living in the jungle on the coast of Siargao Island with my buddies for five weeks. Nothing to do but surf, snorkel, sing karaoke with the locals and sup Beer Na Beer in the evenings (no two bottles taste the same).

And the worst? A couple of days at Ko Samui Island, in Thailand. The last straw was getting up for breakfast and watching an English guy spew all over the sand from an entire night spent taking drugs. My wife and I legged it.


If we bump into you on holiday, what are you most likely to be doing?
Exploring. Not for me the lying-by-the-pool holiday - can't stand it. Give me jungle, mozzies, heat and hardship any day.

If we could teleport you to one place in New Zealand for a week-long holiday, where would it be? I assume time travel is possible too? Then Raglan, circa 1866. Uncrowded, perfect waves in paradise, with a brand new pub in town.

How about for a dream holiday internationally?
I got a taste of Italy when I attended the Bologna Children's Book Fair last year. I need to go back in order to taste absolutely everything.

What's the dumbest thing you've ever done when travelling?
Convinced my fellow travellers in the hostel to hike to an ancient Turkish ruin for a jam session and a few bevvies. An hour later we were marched back to town by armed, shouting police.

Complete this sentence: I can't travel without ... Permission from the missus.

What's the best thing you've brought back from a trip?
I bought some beautiful ancient coins from a guy in Ephesus, Turkey for just 20 quid! I treasured them until someone who knew better laughed themselves stupid at my naivety.

What's the best travel tip you've ever been given? Don't buy the fake coins from dodgy-looking dudes at Ephesus. Too late, unfortunately.

What was the most memorable meal you've had while travelling?
It was an almost-meal. On an island in the Philippines, our neighbour hacked down a stray dog with his machete. He looked up at us, smiled, and invited us to dinner.

Favourite airport to land at?
Great Barrier Island. After landing I got out of the plane, stepped back to let the pilot pull the bags out and burned my calf on the scorching-hot brakes! It's Old School.

What's the next trip you've got planned?
To Ireland, to visit my wife's crazy family.

Want more holiday inspiration? Sign up to our new Travel Insider newsletter here.