She's probably the most travelled baby in New Zealand.

Neve Te Aroha Ardern Gayford turns 1 in a few weeks and she's already been to the United Nations headquarters in New York, accompanying her mother Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Her life is split between her parents' home in Auckland and Premier House in Wellington, and she's often seen at her mother's side at events around the country, including on Friday at the commissioning of Her Majesty's New Zealand Ship Manawanui into the fleet at Devonport Naval Base.

Co-ordinating her busy schedule is stay-at-home dad — aka The First Man of Fishing — Clarke Gayford.


In the second episode of our new podcast Trip Notes, Gayford sits down with Stephanie Holmes and Tim Roxborogh and shares his tips on travelling with a baby.

Go to on Tuesday to find the full video version of the podcast, or subscribe and download at iHeart Radio, Apple, Spotify, Stitcher... wherever you usually get your podcasts.

Think of travel with a baby like a sports game

"I probably do quite a bit more travelling with a young one than most because we do split our time between Wellington and Auckland," says Clarke. "I know it through the ages, from when they're really little and can still fit in a cot and go to sleep – bless them – to when they get a bit older and quite wriggly and don't understand how to keep still and yet haven't got to that point where you can put a screen in front of them."

He admits, pre-children, he used to love the opportunity air travel affords to tune out for a while.

"You sit down, find your seat – G, F, found it, cool, I'm next to a window – and then you sit down and your brain switches off," he says. "But when you have a child, it's like a sports match from start to finish. You've got to work out where your uniform is, where their uniform is, have you got your mouth guard, what do I need in my bag? Do I have a clean set of clothes? Have I put on clothes that are restroom friendly?

"Don't be putting on a pair of dungarees on a small child before you get on a plane, or something you can't easily get off and on."

Bring distractions


Favourite toys and snacks are key items to keep in your hand luggage for easy distractions. "Rusks are great," he says. "I tell you what else is great, the Air New Zealand staff. They are brilliant."

And the cabin crew have taught him it's often the smallest things that will help distract your baby.

The First baby turns one in two weeks. Photo / Getty
The First baby turns one in two weeks. Photo / Getty

"There's something about those [coffee] cups that a small child particularly enjoys. And the lids," he says. "So you try and hold that out as a treat – a cup and a lid – and away they go. On a couple of occasions, I've also had the Air New Zealand staff put a bunch of lollies inside two cups and then tape the cups together as a rattle."

Bring patience – whether you're a parent or not

Clarke says that having a child of his own has changed his whole perspective on other people who travel with children. "I do know now that when I'm on a plane without a child and someone else has one, you go out of your way to make them feel comfortable, because it can be quite stressful to be honest."

Try and time your flights around your baby's sleep cycle

You might think new parents would be mad to travel long-haul with a four-month old baby, but when your partner is the Prime Minister and she has an important speaking engagement at the UN, there's not much choice. But luckily, when it came time to fly to New York, the flights coincided with a new phase of baby Neve's development.

Tim Roxborogh, Clarke Gayford and Stephanie Holmes, after recording episode two of new Travel podcast, Trip Notes. Photo / Chris Tarpey
Tim Roxborogh, Clarke Gayford and Stephanie Holmes, after recording episode two of new Travel podcast, Trip Notes. Photo / Chris Tarpey

"We flew to New York and back when Neve was four months," Clarke says. "I would highly recommend if your child has gone into a long sleep cycle – so maybe sleeps longer at night – book your flight so that it coincides ... it will give you a chance to have a break on the plane. We just fluked that and it was great for us and it was great for the people around us as well."

That fluke of luck might not necessarily last forever though, he admits. "She's coming up 11 months so we're getting to that stage of trying not to kick the seat in front of us. Just as you get through each phase, a new one comes along. So I'm living all of the phases while travelling."

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