What are your favourite memories from childhood family holidays in NZ?
I came to Aotearoa as an 8-year-old in 1966, travelling the 18,500 kilometres from the grey and crowded grimness that was the North of England - think Coronation Street before colour television. We arrived in the green, open, slow-paced and still rather bucolic city of Ōtautahi, Christchurch. It was a bit of a shock.
But I loved it, and I loved the beaches. My favourite memories are not so much of going away as a family (though we did do that, mainly to Timaru and Fairlie), but of the hours and hours I would spend swimming and hurling myself down the sand dunes at North Brighton or Waikuku Beach. Paradise.
Where is your favourite off the beaten track/secret spot in NZ to get away from it all and what makes it so special?
It's not really that much off the beaten track, but our little place on Waiheke Island is my favourite secret spot. Quiet, in a cul-de-sac with a native reserve at the end of it, no phone, a three-minute walk to the lovely, secluded beach, and no sense whatsoever of the city of Auckland being anywhere near.
It's the peace that makes it so special; the tranquillity and the simplicity. I associate it with books, leisurely cooking, kayaks, beers in the sun and relaxation.
If you were heading on a family getaway now, where would you go and why?
If it wasn't for Covid, I have to say that I would be headed to Greece or Turkey or Ireland or Norway or all of these. However, given the situation we find ourselves in, I guess I'd be headed to Waiheke again!
What's your dream NZ road trip and why?
In a sense, I have had my dream NZ road trip. After the first lockdown last year, I was able to tour my solo show, The Daylight Atheist by Tom Scott, from Oban in Rakiura right through the country. We travelled to 34 towns and cities in about 37 days, playing to packed houses in every kind of venue from living rooms to sheds to opera houses to pubs. In our little van, the two of us (my technician and I) zig-zagged across the entire country using highways and back roads and all kinds of secret shortcuts. Every day a new, breathtaking journey by road.
The business of getting up early, driving to the next town (Norsewood? Hokitika? Cust? Paeroa?), putting the set in and then performing before packing up again, is a creative, levelling, inspiring process that keeps an actor honest. Proper work in the real world. Not exactly a holiday, but brilliant.
And if you could choose one ultimate, luxury, dream holiday in NZ, where would you go and why?
This is tricky. If I'm honest, I would find the remotest spot I could that would still provide the nice things I want – food, alcohol, warmth, tranquillity. Is there such a place? All the comforts without the noise. No New Year craziness for me! Give me a sauna in the remote mountains or a luxury cabin in the Far North.
Or let's go to the Chatham Islands. Have they got a luxury retreat there?
Michael Hurst's Jack & the Beanstalk will show from March 11 to 14, at Auckland Arts Festival. Learn more at aaf.co.nz