I did not do the standard OE on finishing my university studies. In fact my goal at that stage was to do a Pacific cruise before I settled with commitments. My first venture out of the country was to Sydney, working at a hospitality industry trade fair, promoting Leopard Export Lager as part of my role with the local brewery at that time. I did the cruise a year later, over three weeks, on the bottom deck in a cabin shared with five strangers. This was the cheapest option and certainly interesting. From that day I have seen cruising as the ultimate holiday.
The nature of my work and family commitments limited my travel to within our own country, for the next few years. I ultimately had the opportunity to travel to the US and UK with a focus on brewery exports and postgraduate studies. While this travel was work-related, I found it of great value and very enjoyable. It certainly opens the mind and broadens the perspective.
Then came the period when I shared wonderful travel experiences with my family. As musical productions from The West End or Broadway were staged in Australia, my wife Carol and I would travel there, for a few days at a time, and enjoy those. It was great to find that our three children had grown to the stage when we could consider travelling with them. This certainly adds complexity to international travel but is a great experience for all.
We started with a holiday on the Gold Coast of Australia as so many Kiwis do. Then we ventured to other locations on the East Coast, with Hamilton Island being one of the most memorable. On most of these holidays we took my mother with us so we had three adults and three kids. On one of these occasions we drove from Melbourne to Sydney and spent nights in places like Wagga Wagga, where I had business connections. We enjoyed some great hospitality and it seemed that my mother was becoming everyone’s granny. We still worked to fit this travel with musicals and were able to share Beauty & the Beast in Melbourne and Phantom of the Opera in Sydney.
Fiji then attracted us and we had a few holidays on island resorts. The Blue Lagoon Cruise was a great addition to one of these.
Once Gareth, our youngest, was eight, I decided it was time for the ultimate family holiday. Granny was not part of this one, but the five of us went to California for three weeks. To make the budget stretch, we would fit into one room. Gareth never complained about the rollaway beds. I would go to the supermarket first thing to buy juice, milk, buns and the little packets of cereals, so that we could have breakfast in our room. Yes, we travelled with our own plastic bowls and cutlery and a jar of peanut butter.
To see places such as Hollywood Boulevard, Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon and San Deigo Zoo, with your children, is an amazing experience for all involved.
In the following years my travel to the US mainly involved study tours with suppliers to Farmlands and university studies. Study tours are great in that you get to meet people in their businesses with the chance to talk about things of mutual interest. Suppliers would usually take us to their international headquarters which incorporated research centres and these were great experiences.
The ultimate of course is when you finish up spending a weekend in a city like New York, as I did on tour with Du Pont. Eight of us in the tour group went to see Julie Andrews in her final performance of Victor Victoria. This was amazing. On another study tour, a group of us spent the weekend in Washington DC, checking out the museums and galleries there.
While some of my study was at Stanford University in California, it was my times at Purdue University in Indiana that gave me an insight into aspects of life in the USA which many tourists to that country do not get a chance to experience.
Purdue specialises in agricultural economics and sits in the ‘Midwest’. The nature and dimensions of agricultural business there were most impressive. During my times there, I was asked if my family would be agreeable to hosting undergraduate students over their summer break, so that they could experience agriculture in another country. We did this for students from rural families in Kansas and Indiana and I was able to arrange work experiences for them on a number of farms and in rural service businesses. This turned out being great experience for them and our family. Ultimately we visited these families once these guys had completed their studies and were working from home.
During this time we also made the most of some great travel opportunities in our own country. Gemma and I walked the Milford Track when she was 12. I repeated it the following year as tour leader for a group of 40 farmers and did it a third time with our son Gareth. Subsequently he and I did the Queen Charlotte Walk and the Abel Tasman Track. Gemma joined us when we did the Tongariro Walk and climbed Mt Ruapehu.
Carol and I did two trips to Europe where we checked our family roots in Scotland, Cornwall, UK and Ireland. We took the opportunity to meet up with people we had met over the years and this saw us in Germany, Austria, Italy and France. We find that being able to stay with people who live at your destination is wonderful. And so we have enjoyed hosting many of these friends, when they have visited Hawke’s Bay.
My final opportunity to study abroad was at Harvard Business School in Boston. It snowed while I was there and it felt as if I was on the set of on an American TV programme.
In more recent years it is cruising that has once again been my focus. Being able to live for a week or more on a ship that is more like a floating city and visit a range of interesting locations, in different countries, is a great way to travel. In recent years I have enjoyed cruises in the Mediterranean, the Caribbean and the Baltic Sea.
My focus now is on river cruising in Europe. And of course there are events such as an upcoming family wedding in Byron Bay, on the Australian Gold Coast that creates a reason for yet another closer destination that I have not visited before.
This may seem like lots of travel, but it has been over 40 years. For the last 30 of these, Debby at House of Travel Hastings, has been great in organising all the detail for us.