TV presenter Hayley Sproull began her world travel with a good sense of timing, writes Bridget Jones
Picture a marching girl, and chances are you're not imagining a cool young TV star, known for making people laugh.
But when she's not busy hosting multiple primetime television shows, Hayley Sproull has spent two decades performing with Lochiel, the most successful marching team in New Zealand history.
The sport has taken her all around the world, and let her perform on some of the biggest stages, as she explains in the new 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.
• Welcome to Trip Notes: Herald Travel's new podcast is the next best thing to being there
• Trip Notes: Expert tips on everything you ever need to know about cruise holidays
• Trip Notes podcast: Is getting paid to travel really the dream job?
• Trip Notes podcast: Rachel Hunter on Tour of Beauty and her love of travel
"When I was 16, my world exploded," she says, recalling her first big trip with the team to Norway.
"I never thought I'd go to all these places - Oslo in Norway, Switzerland, Edinburgh; marching opened all my doors."
Among her marching travels, she has performed three times in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle at the city's famous Military Tattoo.
"Edinburgh is one of those cities where you arrive and say, 'I think I'm going to move here' and then you think about the weather and how pale you'd be'.
"But it's gorgeous. And performing in front of 9000 people a night is my dream come true."
Sproull, who is hosting The Great Kiwi Bake Off and Have You Been Paying Attention on TVNZ 2, admits travelling in a marching team means you see the world differently to your average tourist.
"I always see the countries through quite a rigid structure - we're there to march, we're there to train, we stay in the military barracks, so for the first week or so you're there, you see nothing. But when you're allowed out, it's great."
Last year, Sproull spent a couple of months in Oman working with their military, which was a unique experience.
"I loved Oman. I'm quite highly strung, always moving quickly, and we were working with the military, expecting this precision, but Oman has such a beautiful, chilled energy. Even in the military.
"It is so beautiful and the people are so nice. It's a really amazing place."
One thing she is enjoying more these days however, is travelling alone - quite a different experience to the pack of 20 or more marchers she used to jumping on a plane with.
Recent solo trips have included exploring the Tuscan countryside in Pisa and Lucca, and a visit off the beaten track in Thailand.
"You have to tick those boxes and look further afield and explore," she says.
"I went to a place called Hua Hin. They say it's where the Bangkok locals go for a holiday. When you think about a holiday in Thailand, it is not that. But you do fall in love with it. It's got a long, wide beach that reminds me of the Kapiti Coast. It was gorgeous."
Find out more about Sproull's travels in the new episode of Trip Notes. The episode also features our picks for Queensland - our Destination of the Week - including:
Bunya Mountains National Park - Go beyond Surfers and explore the rainforest-clad peaks covered by the Bunya pines. About a three-hour drive northwest of Brisbane, spot the diverse wildlife and enjoy the serenity.
Noosa Heads - A coastal town on the Sunshine Coast, the laidback beach vibe is accentuated by the white-sand beaches, great food, top resorts and exceptional surf, all within a short distance to the Noosa National Park.
Daintree National Park - Home to an ancient rainforest which, at more than a 100 million years old, is believed to be one of the three oldest in the world. It also has beaches, rivers and the Great Barrier Reef, making it one of the few places in the world where rainforest meets the reef.
The Whitsundays - Explore the 74 islands just off the Queensland coast. Most of the islands are uninhabited but four offer a variety of resort accommodations, all showcasing the stunning waters and perfect beaches.
Download Trip Notes to hear more about Sproull's favourite travel memories, including her fondness for Dargaville.
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.
For more travel inspiration, go to houseoftravel.co.nz
Watch The Great Kiwi Bake Off, Sundays, 7pm, and Have You Been Paying Attention, Wednesdays, 7.30pm, both on TVNZ 2