As Celebrity Treasure Island returns to our screens tonight, we asked the contestants to share memories of their favourite island holidays.
I often visit the Philippines to see relatives but visiting Boracay Island was my first time being able to venture past the family homes and major cities — my first time being a "tourist". It is considered one of the world's top destinations for relaxation, hospitality and white-sand beaches, so it was only right I booked an Airbnb and searched online options for adventures. Where else in the world could you have a one-hour full-body spa massage, followed by a three-course meal and then a sail into the sunset?
I took advantage of every opportunity, including a party on a yacht with other tourists; hired a buggy to drive to the top of the island; and strolled along the beach at night when I felt it truly came alive. Fresh lobster, large king prawns, accompanied by a walk-by flash mob that performs as you eat - there's just something about the atmosphere and warm days and nights. It is no wonder it continues to be one of the 25 top beaches in the world. It's honestly more fun in the Philippines.
For me, the best holidays are when the wider Freeman family get together and just hang out. Sisters, brothers, cousins, kids, all of us together — usually around the summer break and in Queensland (Australia's an island, right?!). We will spend time together, fish — although the Freemans are notoriously bad at fishing — and catch up on life. Even though I live in Australia these days, it's still the perfect island holiday — or holiday, full stop.
Four years ago, after a couple of beers, I sent my brother a "let's catch up" message. But when one of you lives in Auckland, and the other's in London, it makes things tricky. Until Rob sent me one word — Ibiza. I was sold. I booked flights and flew to the small, yet larger-than-life, party island. We had the craziest, most intense four days. It's absolutely picturesque but will also almost ruin you. There are things we still reminisce over, and things we'll possibly never speak of again. But, after it was all said and done, my brother and I were closer than ever.
One of the most amazing island holidays my family has been on was to the islands of Vava'u in Tonga. Every day, we went out into the lagoon, and every day we got to swim with the magnificent humpback whales. Mothers and their babies, sleeping whales and whales playing around doing synchronised swimming together. My daughters were 5 and 9 at the time, and the videos I have of these tiny tots, fearlessly, swimming with 12m-plus whales is mind-blowing. To see these graceful creatures, nurture their babies, swim in unison and to hear their whale song, is a memory etched in my brain for ever.
I managed to spend some time in Japan and it was an amazing place. There are amazing sights, which can be accessed by amazing transport that is easy to use. People are friendly and it is also a place that you would visit in either summer of winter. You will learn so much visiting Japan.
Slipper Island looks a bit like it sounds, sitting in that bit of ocean out from Pauanui and Tairua. It's magical. In about 1998, I was working with Ryan Gosling in Auckland on series two of Young Hercules. We had a break over Christmas and my crowd of party misfits had heard about Slipper Island. We had to book by telephone. We caught the water taxi and I'll never forget the captain's face as we loaded box after box. We were like pigs in mud! We swam, rode horses and fished our way back to happiness in the boiling hot January sun. At night we'd party until the generator was turned off. There was nothing on that Island except innocence and freedom — we had to take everything else in. It felt like our untouched kingdom with undulating mountains and magical times.
I went to Greece about 20 years ago, before I started my life as a boxer, and it's a holiday that stands out for me. A good friend's dad is Greek and his mother's English, so they used to go to Greece every year to the family home. This time I joined him. The water was sensational, we went spear-fishing every day, the nightlife was really good and the Greek people were really nice — fed us up like nobody's business. I was a big eater then but it was a tough ask for me to try to polish off the food put in front of me. A standout for me in my younger years.
I was staying in Rome and decided to jump on a train down to Naples. I went on Airbnb and saw a place which looked really cool, so I booked it right away. When I arrived in Naples, I told a woman at the station that I was looking for my Airbnb in Ischia . . . which she informed me was an island. It was an hour and a half ferry from Naples. I was thinking, "Oh my goodness, what I have I done". I had two options, I could cancel the booking, or go on an adventure — I decided to go on an adventure. It was the most stunning place I've ever been. Some of the most beautiful views you could imagine. The only sad thing was that I was by myself.
As a kid, every year my family and I would go to an island off Australia called Great Keppel Island. It's been completely commercialised now but it used to be a tiny little paradise with only a few houses right on the sand. We grew up diving, fishing, wakeboarding — loads of water activities. We would hunt lobsters with our hands and cook them over the fire, run all over the beach and play card games all night and get covered in mozzie bites. That island is my childhood treasure. It's never going to be the same, the island is so different now, but that's life.
LANA VAN HOUT
Paradise isn't easy to find but it's what comes to mind when I think of Hawaii. I get goose bumps thinking about my time spent on Kauai and the beautiful memories I carry from this time. Nature is life to me and my experience truly immersed me in the beauty of unparalleled nature. Mountain ranges out of a prehistoric time, vegetation so oversized and overgrown that nature truly appears to be owning its place in a tropical paradise. Beaches with glistening golden sand, the bluest of waters and clarity like I've never experienced. Ocean adventures, snorkelling with turtles a dream kind of experience, dolphins riding the bow of our catamaran, whale watching, surfing, hiking and seeing the Na Pali coastline for the first time — it has to be seen to be believed. Then there are the sunrise and sunsets, you feel lost from the world as you just exist in the moment and the beauty.
I spent a few months living in Hawaii, which was amazing, but the treasure was finding myself in the Galapagos Islands swimming with Celine Cousteau (humanitarian, activist, enviro film-maker, you may recognise the legendary name) and countless hammerhead, black tip, and Galapagos giant sharks. We were being introduced to how we all can be a part of "counting sharks" by sending any sightings to an organisation called Shark Savers. I turned 25 in the Galapagos, swam and surfed with sharks and met a woman who I admired and whose epic journey I have continued to follow. Win, win and win.
I've been a Corvette fan since I received an '84 Matchbox C4 'vette as a birthday present as a wee tyke. On a recent trip to Hawaii, when my girlfriend, Bex, and I discovered that the car rental place had a special on the C7 Corvette, there was no way I was going to turn it down in favour of a Toyota Corolla. Targa top stowed in the trunk, wind blowing through what's left of my hair, this little red Corvette had me smiling from ear to ear — especially when it came to driving through tunnels. For some reason, my right foot grew ever so slightly heavier and my smile ever so slightly wider. The noise also helped drown out Bex's cries of fear. I'll never forget those few short days with that 6.2-litre V8 beast. Oh, and I suppose spending time with Bex on the island of Maui was pretty cool too.
My favourite island holiday I've been on was to Samoa. I was over there playing in an invitational Sevens Tournament. We visited some awesome places such as Sliding Rock. Although we didn't do well in the tournament it was awesome to see the country and the passion the younger kids have for rugby.
I love Samoa, of course! That it is where I am from and where both my parents come from. My family history and culture is all from this one wonderful island nation — I feel very lucky to be able to say that and to have Samoan culture and country to constantly go back to and learn from. It is a very special place for my little family too as it is where my husband and I eloped with just our son Philli as witness, it was a very special moment for us.
I went there to Long Island, in the Bahamas, to cover William Trubridge's deep free dive — 101m on a single breath. The dive location is Dean's Blue Hole, the most beautiful place I have ever been to. It's 200m deep and turns from the brightest blue to the darkest black. When we weren't filming William's adventures, we were jumping off the surrounding cliffs in the giant blue abyss and doing our best to swim down to the sand ledge that sat about 10m below the surface. It's both the most beautiful and the most terrifying place on earth. During our deep diving lessons, we learnt at 14m that the human body is no longer buoyant; instead it sinks.
My recent birthday trip with all my family and friends was my 10th time visiting Bali but experiencing it with all my nearest and dearest was by far the best. We all flew in from different parts of Australia and New Zealand and stayed in massive villas all together around the island. It really was the birthday trip of a lifetime and we made so many lasting memories . . . The Balinese e are so friendly and welcoming, not to mention the $8 daily massages, great food, amazing weather and, of course, it's not too far from home.
Celebrity Treasure Island starts Sunday, August 18, 7pm and continues Monday and Tuesday 7.30pm, TVNZ 2