I have always been a traveller at heart. My father, in his youth, travelled widely throughout the world on board ships. During his working life he worked for the New Railways and as a result, our family had a free pass to travel wherever we wished throughout New Zealand by train or bus. My elderly great aunt, who read horoscopes, told me that, in a former life, I had been a sea captain on a sailing ship. As a small boy, even as young as six years old, I would spend hours studying maps and searching for interesting and unusual places that I might like to go and explore when I grew up. These included places such as Kerguelen Island, Jan Mayan Island, Bouvet Oya and many others. I used to frustrate my teachers by asking lots questions about these unusual places which probably they had not heard of. They would tell me to be quiet and say that there was ‘nothing’ there in these places that I dreamt of going to. This only made me more curious and in fact increased my desire to travel to these places.
At the age of nineteen, I began travelling, at first, to visit nearby countries such New Caledonia, French Polynesia and Vanuatu and as I got older, further afield.
I became aware of the Travelers’ Century Club while down in the Antarctic in 1993: I shared a cabin with a man from South Africa who was a member of the Travelers’ Century Club. He gave me a copy of the TCC List of Countries. This really motivated me. Three years later I finally reached my 100th country: Panama. I joined the Club as soon as I got home.
I guess the reason why I travel so much is ‘curiosity’ and ‘adventure’: particularly to areas of world that are generally unknown to most people. While my country count now sits at 279 countries in the world, it is my plan to visit all countries on the TCC list before “I hang my boots up.”
I guess the parts of the world that I have enjoyed the most are the cooler, pristine and unspoilt places: the Arctic and Sub-Arctic in the North, the Antarctic and Sub-Antarctic in the South. One of the trips I have enjoyed the most was a five week voyage from the Mauritius down to the French Sub-Antarctic Islands of Crozet, Kerguelen, St. Paul and Amsterdam Island. Here we saw wild life untouched by modern life: where animals and birds had no fear of humans and the vegetation remained unspoilt .In the Northern hemisphere for me the areas that I have enjoyed the most are the remote islands of Franz Josef Land and the rarely visited Jan Mayen Land where the world’s most Northerly volcano is located.
From my extensive traveling experiences over many years, I have come to understand and feel for people in the world with its many cultures and climates and to gain an understanding why the people in many countries act the way they do. I also have the privilege of sharing my experience with lots of people and groups back home here in New Zealand.