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17 Apr 2024

Cruising down the Highway 35

I first saw it through a 1973 Holden Belmont station wagon’s smoke-stained window. Staring back at 11-year-old me was a blue and yellow sign: ‘Pig Dog Training School / Bookbinder’. Located just outside of Torere, Joshua Kauta’s iconic landmark still stands, symbolising the next 300 kilometres. Known yet mysterious, friendly yet wary, this is the East Coast.

Cruising down the Highway 35

19 Mar 2024

Why Bluff is the New Hotspot you must Visit

The town known for those fat juicy you-know-whats, and the place where every New Zealand fundraising ride / walk / tour seems to end, is having a modern-day renaissance. Bluff is one of the oldest settlements in New Zealand but rather than resting on its oyster laurels its quickly becoming a destination of its own.

Why Bluff is the New Hotspot you must Visit

24 Jan 2024

The Last Great Hunter Gatherers

The leader reaches in between the freshly cut, drooping skin and through to the open organ cavity. Twisting his hand with a precision that only comes with age, he pulls out the bloody liver. The baboon dripping in front of him will be dinner, and perhaps breakfast, for the four families gathered under the ledge.

The Last Great Hunter Gatherers

14 Dec 2023

A Horim

Deep in the Baliem Valley of Indonesia’s Papua region, size really does matter. The Dani tribe, first discovered by air in 1938 and still isolated in the mountains today, are known for a particular appendage: the horim.

A Horim

8 Nov 2023

A Spell in Salem

“Salem has 400 years of history, yet all people want to talk about was the single worst year we ever had”. Our gregarious Witch City Walking Tour guide, Sean, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, introduced us to what put this Massachusetts town on the map – the Salem Witch Trials.

A Spell in Salem

1 Nov 2023

The Land of the Toraja

As I left the room, I respectfully bowed my head and thanked my host, Tanjkeara. His wife, Francisca, who I had met at a cock fight had invited me into their home, impressing upon me that her husband spoke English, Dutch and Bahasa. As it was Tanjkeara didn’t say much - he hadn’t since he had died three years ago.

The Land of the Toraja

25 Oct 2023

Falling for New England

As the road softly curved under a canopy of maples, rusty reds and golden yellows tumbled to the ground. A solitary man, belt braces strapped over his checked shirt, stood out against the wall of crimson trees. Tailgate down on his Chevy pickup, twin American flags bookending his sign, his bottles of homemade liquid sweetness magnified the sun’s rays.

Falling for New England

9 Aug 2023

Hidden Gisborne

The runway was approaching and we still didn’t have clearance. We’d reduced speed but the control tower was looming closer. Suddenly we got the green light. “There it is,” pointed Geoff, “Up in the tower”. Sure enough, a green light beamed back at us, permission to continue on the railway that cuts through Gisborne’s airport.

Hidden Gisborne

22 Mar 2022

Palliser and Pinnacles

“38!!” laughed Alison, when I asked her the population of Ngawi, the small fishing village we’d just set out from. We were aboard the fishing vessel Elan skippered by her husband Andrew, who had generously agreed to take me for ‘a spin around the point’.

Palliser and Pinnacles

26 Jan 2020

Peru Navidad

Marden was ashen, it was obvious that the poison was starting to take effect. I knew what would happen next – the toxins making their way into his bloodstream, then his glands and finally hitting his central nervous system. With a small first aid kit there was nothing I could do. Not that he wanted me to.

Peru Navidad

13 Oct 2019

Barcelona Nights

“Li-ber-tat! Li-ber-tat!” The chant was sweeping across the square like a Catalan wave. The crowd ignored the soaring heat to remind the world that their pro-independence leaders were still in exile or jail. “Libertat-del-presos-politics!!”

Barcelona Nights

21 Aug 2019

Disappointing a Nun

Vasillia gently touched my arm and leant in. “You are an Orthodox at heart,” she whispered, her eyes lighting up. “Yes, yes, I can see it inside you!” For the first time in my life I had to disappoint a nun.

Disappointing a Nun

11 Dec 2018

Kenya's Lion Warriors

"Um, aren’t we a little low?!” shouted my fellow passenger over the Cessna’s engine. She was right of course, we were only 50 metres above the ground and below us impala were scattering everywhere. “No, of course not,” I reassured her while secretly enjoying a personal ‘Out of Africa’ moment as she gripped the armrest.

Kenya's Lion Warriors

6 Apr 2018

Colour in the Streets

I was warned about getting shot in Colombia. The balaclava, reflective sunglasses and combat fatigues in the southern city of Pasto were a giveaway. I should have just run. Instead, I'm hit twice - not with bullets but with white foam shooting out of a canister by a 12-year old boy shouting “Viva Pasto!”

Colour in the Streets

25 Feb 2018

When Two Worlds Collide

“Smash it on the head” yelled Geranio, our guide. “Quick!” The freshly caught piranha was flip-flopping in a desperate attempt to get back to water, sharp teeth biting at air as I brought a rotting stick down upon its head. Minewa, a 60-year old local tribesman, added it to his string of dead fish and smiled at me. “Now you are a warrior!’”, laughed Geranio.

When Two Worlds Collide

24 Oct 2017

The Mentawai of Indonesia

“Hold on, I just need to scrape something off…” My guide had removed his gumboot and was reaching for a knife. Slowly he sliced the blade down his leg to remove the blood sucking leech that had attached itself to him. “Welcome to Mentawai!” he said with a broad grin.

The Mentawai of Indonesia

12 Jun 2017

Guiding Principles

Even the most ardent solo traveller at some stage will need a guide - someone who knows their cantons from their arrondissements better than you do. I’ve used more than 20 guides around the world, from well-known tour companies to random taxi drivers, so here are a few simple tips that might help you out.

Guiding Principles

2 May 2017

Where the Ocean meets the Sky

“In the olden days,” began Apinelu, a tone of longing in his voice, “it was never this hot. Never. Now everything has changed, not just the sea.” It was a very still 33° and my earlobes were sweating. Welcome to the small island nation of Tuvalu.

Where the Ocean meets the Sky

3 May 2016

Deep in the Heart of Texas

Y’all not from round here, are ya? Ain’t nobody drinks Budddd. This is Shiner Bock country, sir.” And with that the barman passed over a golden-labelled bottle of ale. I was in Luckenbach, Texas, population 3, a small town in the Hill Country west of San Antonio.

Deep in the Heart of Texas

2 Feb 2016

On Safari in the Masaii Mara

The lion was just metres away now. “Look, he’s trying to find some shade so the meat doesn’t rot quickly,” whispered my guide, Nicholas. In the big cat’s mouth was a Maasai calf, being unceremoniously dragged across the plain towards a desert date tree. It was nature at its primeval best in Kenya’s most famous game park.

On Safari in the Masaii Mara

12 Jan 2016

Better than a Band Aid

“Don’t worry ‘bout a thing, cause every little thing, gonna be al-riiight…” It seemed only appropriate that Bob Marley blared out the front of the pick-up as we bounced along the dirt road. After all, this was the country of Emperor Haile Selassie, recognised by Rastafarians as the Massiah of African Redemption and head of their religion.

Better than a Band Aid

4 Jun 2015

Why Albania

“Why Albania?” “Why not?”
“What have they done to us?” “What have they done for us?”
“Nothing….”
“See, they keep to themselves. Shifty. Untrustable.”

Why Albania

26 Apr 2015

The Strangest Town in Australia

We both looked up. It was a strange sound, obviously unfamiliar to my host. “When was the last time it rained here?” I asked. A pause. “Um… this is the first time this year. Might settle the dust though,” said Nick laconically. Perhaps a good omen to mark the centenary of what some would say is Australia’s strangest town.

The Strangest Town in Australia

5 Feb 2015

Off-grid Ocean Journey

“When the alarm goes you grab this,” Officer Cadet Dusan said as he pointed to my lifejacket. “And this.” An orange survival suit. “We muster on C Deck, starboard side.” I didn’t know if it was a good or bad thing that my welcome was bringing up Titanic-like thoughts.

Off-grid Ocean Journey

12 Feb 2013

Leap of Faith

Oh my god, he’s going to do it!” screeched the American teenager to my left. Sure enough with a quick wave to the crowd, a furtive glance downwards and a tuck of the pants, over he leapt. One of Mostar’s bridge-jumpers had just taken the plunge into the icy Neretva River below. I’d just witnessed something that wasn’t possible two decades before.

Leap of Faith

17 Jan 2013

An Eye on Hvar Horizons

A car’s side mirror on a plinth. Next to it, a mounted set of papier mache breasts. Between them, a hanging axe. I was standing in front of one of the world’s strangest – and strangely inviting – exhibitions.

An Eye on Hvar Horizons

13 May 2011

Spires of Patagonia

Before you pull out the atlas, a word of warning: Patagonia isn’t officially a 'place' as such. Rather it’s the name given to an area spanning southern Argentina and Chile, and everything you have heard about it – barren, windswept, sparse and beautiful – is true.

Spires of Patagonia

26 Apr 2011

Brazil Rediscovered

We clap our hands for many things, but until this year I’d never actually applauded the sun going down – that is, until I was at Ipanema.

Brazil Rediscovered

11 Mar 2011

A Flying Visit

It might not have been the largest plane in the world but it certainly was the friendliest. As we disembarked to the hot sticky tarmac, the pilot literally poked his head out of the cockpit to say “bye” to each of us, adding a cheery “Welcome to Gizzy!”

A Flying Visit

28 Oct 2010

The Greatest Train Journey in the World

Platform 3, Beijing Railway Station. And there she was - the fabled Trans-Siberian, ready to take me on the longest train journey in the world. A surreal three countries, five time zones and 8300km of steppe, snow and stations lay ahead... but first of all there was Beijing.

The Greatest Train Journey in the World

14 Apr 2009

Morocco in Focus

When you're in Morocco colour is inescapable. The contrasts, hues and shades that make up this North African country are evident from the moment you land. Travelling through the country is an unbelievably vivid experience, an intoxicating blend of colours, photo opportunities mixed with spicy smells and the strange sounds of a foreign land.

Morocco in Focus

10 Feb 2009

A Date with Hizbollah

For years the name Beirut evoked images of a vicious civil war and a hotspot of clashing cultures. It’s been a while since tourists flocked to the ‘Paris of the Middle East’, so you can imagine my surprise when I discovered a Lebanon of high class fashion, vibrant beauty, worldly citizens and some of the most amazing nightlife in the Middle East.​

A Date with Hizbollah
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