"Living in New York is nothing like Friends - unless you have millions of dollars." Jack Tame is shattering dreams.

But after spending five years in the Big Apple as 1 News' US correspondent, he would know.

Now back in New Zealand, hosting TVNZ's Q+A and Saturday Morning with Jack Tame on Newstalk ZB, he is the guest on the new Christmas episode of Trip Notes. Subscribe to the Trip Notes podcast on iHeartRadio or wherever you get your podcasts, to make sure you never miss an episode or listen now using the iHeartRadio player below.

While it may not have been full of over-sized apartments and never-ending coffee dates, living in the city certainly didn't disappoint Tame.


"Setting foot in New York, I was just intoxicated with how cosmopolitan it felt. More so than any other place on earth, New York feels like it's the centre of the universe," he says.

"It was the world's food court; there were people from every country on earth, all in this relatively condensed space. And for me, that was the most exciting thing."

Newstalk ZB and TVNZ host Jack Tame, centre, with Trip Notes hosts Tim Roxborogh and Stephanie Holmes. Photo / Supplied
Newstalk ZB and TVNZ host Jack Tame, centre, with Trip Notes hosts Tim Roxborogh and Stephanie Holmes. Photo / Supplied

He always made it back to New Zealand just in time for December 25, but Tame has fond memories of New York's white-ish Christmas (it never snowed), with cosy markets, hot cider and watching a 70-metre Christmas tree being dragged past his apartment every single year.

"They would bring in this massive Christmas tree down Fifth Avenue every year [for Rockefeller Centre].

"Can you imagine? What a nightmare, bringing a 70-metre Christmas tree into the middle of Manhattan."

But again, it was the city's diversity that really made this time of year feel special.

"There are a lot of Jewish people who would have Hanukkah around Christmas time, a lot of Muslim people who wouldn't be celebrating Christmas, and it adds another dimension because there are these other holidays that are around Christmas as well."

Tame is something of an intrepid traveller, and has visited every continent, although admits he hasn't been to sub-saharan Africa - yet.

"I would rather spend money on travel than anything else. I don't drive a nice car, I don't have fancy possessions or clothes or anything like that; travel is my priority for spending money."


His current philosophy is to save the "easy" destinations for later in life. Right now, he's ticking the trickier ones off his bucket list, with an upcoming summer holiday to India and Pakistan planned. Last year he travelled through the Middle East, through Jordan, Israel, the West Bank, Cyprus and into Lebanon.

"I often think about what parts of the world I crave, what areas I really want to return to, and there are many places I have enjoyed but I don't crave returning to them. But certainly that part of the Middle East and India and Latin America would be the three [places] I often crave."

As he gears up to cover the 2020 election, Tame says these days he is "less attracted to sights than I am places with geo-political interest".

"[But] that part of the world is irresistible for a few reasons. If you remove politics, first the history is incredible, and the food is amazing - and so much of my travel revolves around eating.

"Even though I said New York was the centre of the world, in a sense, Jerusalem is kind of the centre of the world - that Middle Eastern area between Jerusalem and Istanbul - so many different cultures have passed through there over the years. So simple meals like bread and hummus and garlic - it's very hard to do better than that."

Download Trip Notes to hear more about Tame's favourite travel memories - and near misses.

Trip Notes is available at iHeartRadio, or wherever you get your podcasts. Photo / Supplied
Trip Notes is available at iHeartRadio, or wherever you get your podcasts. Photo / Supplied

Subscribe, and each new episode will automatically download when available. You can also go to nzherald.co.nz/tripnotes to watch video from the podcast, and catch up on any episodes you may have missed.

In the meantime, here are some of the hottest destinations for 2020:

Jack Tame visited 40 states during his time as TVNZ's US correspondent. While Vermont, Louisiana and Chicago were some of his favourite places, the thing he loves most about the country is its variety. "You can be in the Arctic Circle [in Alaska], but within the same country, be on South Beach in Florida. It's hard to succinctly summarise America as anything other than so diverse."

There are about 1000 islands in Croatia, so you don't need to limit yourself to Dubrovnik or Split. Why not give Cres or Mljet, with its lush greenery, salted lakes and famed goat's cheese, a visit instead (mljettravel.com).

Sri Lanka
Stunning beaches, lush bush and historical monuments - Sri Lanka has a bit of everything. The island is among the world's top five biodiversity hotspots, and the country's native healing system, Ayurveda, means there are lots of ways to aid relaxation (srilanka.travel).

"You have all these New Zealand links in funny places," Tame recalls from his travels to Egypt, especially, he says, at the country's war cemeteries (nzwargraves.org.nz). He also suggests making the effort to see the pyramids further afield than those found at Giza, on the outskirts of Cairo.

It may have proven especially popular in 2019 thanks to a certain sporting event, but Japan has a lot going on in the coming 12 months as well with a little thing called the Olympics (olympic.org/tokyo-2020). Time your visit to avoid the crowds if that's not your thing.

Of course Santorini is beautiful, but, like Croatia, avoid contributing to overtourism, and seek out less-trodden destinations. Paros (visitgreece.gr), with its turquoise seas and white buildings has some of the most picturesque coastlines in Greece.

For more travel inspiration, go to houseoftravel.co.nz.