The Block NZ judge shares his most memorable holidays
What are your strongest memories from the first overseas trip you ever took?
My great grandparents emigrated to the Hawaiian islands in the 70s, so one of my very first trips as a kid was travelling to Hawaii to visit them. I was spellbound by all the smells, various foods, white beaches, the azure blue of the ocean and the many different cultures.
What was a standard family holiday like when growing up?
We travelled a lot with my grandparents. It was always full of laughter, mischief and food, so much seafood. Playing badminton on the grass, trips to various beaches on the boat, visiting the sights around New Zealand and abroad.
What is the greatest trip you've ever been on?
Before the pandemic, I had a trip with friends to Tuscany, Italy. It was one of my favourite trips because we just laughed the whole time, drank and ate too much, shopped, and enjoyed seeing things together. It's always the best when you have amazing friends who are relaxed and easy to travel with.
And the worst?
One of my last trips back to Hong Kong pre-pandemic. I was there when a big typhoon hit so I was bunkered into the hotel. The lobby glass blew in. It was quite an ordeal - the building was actually moving and it was incredibly intense.
What destination did you dream of most while borders were closed?
Mostly Europe and Asia. I miss the culture, architecture and art. I missed walking around cities, visiting museums and galleries, the landscapes and finding new products. I have found it very hard being in New Zealand during the pandemic, as it's so small and very little to do unless you are an outdoors person.
What's your approach to packing for a big trip?
Always pack a main case, keep a couple of changes in a carry on, and always take an empty suitcase - you never know what you will find that you have to hand carry back.
What is the destination that most surprised you – good or bad?
Egypt, was an incredible experience but Giza was very run down and dirty. I was kind of disappointed. The history, architecture, interiors and art were truly fascinating and it certainly outshone the grit of the place.
Where was your most memorable sunrise/sunset?
Yellow Mountain in Huangshan, China. This place is next-level amazing. We are working on a hotel there at the moment, so fortunately I have been up to the top a few times. It's a mystical place and the birthplace of Chinese calligraphy and art. At times the mountains just glow in the sunlight. As the sun sets the most magical light appears against the stone of the mountain and reflects against the horizon and the clouds. It is almost heavenly.
What's the first thing you do when you get home from a long trip?
I usually unpack. I'm generally quite tired, especially after a China trip, so best to attack it as soon as you're in so you can unwind as fast as possible. After that, a hot shower, change into fresh clothes and a have good meal. Depending on the time of day, get into my lovely bed. Sometimes there is nothing quite like being in your own bed.
What do you miss most about home when you travel?
New Zealand's quiet beaches. It's always easy to find a deserted beach for some contemplation and relaxation.
Where is the one destination you must see in your lifetime?
I have a longing to go to Antarctica before it's lost forever. Travel for me is about experiences, being able to be immersed in a new place, not only physically but also mentally and emotionally. Being able to appreciate and capture the essence of a place.
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