My Holidays: Graeme Dingle

What was your greatest holiday?
If the test is pleasurable and memorable, it was one of the first Graeme Dingle Foundation programmes. The challenge I gave the 12 young people from West Auckland was: “Take me to the glacier where the Waikato River begins, collect some ice in a waterproof container, then using kayaks paddle to the sea.” The adventure took nearly three weeks but I returned my charges to their school transformed. At a special assembly, we presented each of the 12 with a specially labelled bottle of melted glacier ice, celebrating their effort.

And the worst?
The worst was an attempt to climb a 6000m peak in the Andes with Jo-anne Wilkinson.

On the first day, we got the gut infection giardia. I took an overdose of the drug intended to combat the illness and spent the rest of the holiday stumbling around on grossly swollen feet.

If we bump into you on holiday, what are you most likely to be doing?

Being active. I can’t stand inactivity – lying on a beach or milling with tourists.

If we could teleport you to one place in New Zealand for a week-long holiday, where would it be?
Wildest Fiordland, say Puysegur Point or Resolution Island with the endless bush and wild seas breaking on the granite coastline.

How about for a dream holiday internationally?
A high camp in the Himalayas amid corniced peaks.

What’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever done when travelling?
To continue rafting down the Amazon with no money and no way of getting out except to buy an airline ticket.

Aisle seat or window seat?
I don’t care – I just love being on big planes going to somewhere exciting. I even love cattle class.

Complete this sentence: I can’t travel without …
A plan and my Swiss Army pocket knife.

What’s the best travel tip you’ve ever been given?
“Get your hair cut and take no more pictures in Turkey” – from an officer of the Turkish Secret Police.

What was the most memorable meal you’ve had while travelling?
An armadillo in the Amazon jungle, cooked over hot coals in its own shell. Just so tender and tasty.

What’s the best thing you’ve brought back from a trip?
A Gurkha kukri that I bought in a Nepalese bazaar 45 years ago and still use in the bush today.

Favourite airport to land at?
I used to enjoy landing at the old Hong Kong airport because you could look into people’s houses seemingly only metres from the wing tips. These days I enjoy Singapore because it feels like a crossroads to the world and you can buy anything.

What’s the next trip you’ve got planned?
As soon as Jo-anne and I can get away from our work we will go to climb a peak in the Himalayas.

The Graeme Dingle Foundation runs learning and mentoring programmes for young people aged 5-18.