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Some examples of my writing styles….

I have start this by saying I’m jumping out of my skin to write a piece and vlog an item about one of the many features and resorts of the Great Barrier Reef.

Maybe a little something about the redevelopment of the Fitzroy Island resort, the thread count on the sheets at Hayman, or about an experience racing to be anchored on time on a self sailed boat in the Whitsundays, or perhaps simply about popping my jandal/flip-flop/thong rubber while white-man dancing on South Molle.

But I believe you can’t comment accurately on an experience unless you’ve been there, tried its clothes, smelled its perfume and had its chewing gum stuck between your toes.

So not like the gentleman who was caught reporting on the Iraq war from a broom cub-board, and to not fall into the trap of passing off a press release as my own experience I’d rather use this post to jot a few words about a couple of places I have been.

And to throw in some light and shade I’ll tell you about several holiday experiences that I’ve been lucky enough to go on, but both being from completely different ends of the travel spectrum.

Blnaket-balcony-in-winter

Spectrum 1being the opulent Blanket Bay Lodge in Queenstown which one might liken to an escape at Lizard Island (only much colder)

Spectrum 2 being one moment from an action packed no-budget back-packing adventure in South America which has shades of South Molle Island. (just with less Llama’s…. perhaps?…actually I couldn’t find any accurate info about the Llama population on South Molle –so that is pure speculation)

Blanket Bay, a lodge like no other.


Blanket Bay lodge

blanket-bay-in-august


Queenstown

South Island

New Zealand

Now it’s a bit of trick locating New Zealand’s premier lodge. As I soon discovered its actually nuzzled quite literally into its surrounds. Being built back into a remote gently sloping hillside its arrived at after a windy 40 minute drive from Queenstown’s airport, up the shores of the magnificent Lake Wakatipu.


And With Peter Jackson choosing nearby locations for several Lord of the Rings scenes, I found myself quite literally in the middle of middle-earth.


In fact the big wizard Sir Ian McKellan himself once stayed here announcing it to be;

‘really the most splendid property, possibly the best in the world and everyone should stay there when visiting New Zealand’


And soon after stepping through its large deliberately aged timber doors it’s easy to understand why the white wizard twitched his staff in delight at what stretched out before him.

The Great Room

I mean if it wasn’t the giant deer antler chandelier swinging above the Great hall, or the lush private guest rooms with heated marble floors and wide shot mountain/lake vistas enjoyed from every window, that took his old man breath away. Then it may well have been The Den, – a room situated deep inside the lodge with an unrivalled collection of tipples for the even the most discerning of palates.


Now I can’t answer for the ‘Sir’, but I can tell you that this humble ‘Mr’ could easily have claimed any one of those outstanding features as ‘thee thing’ that makes this place stand apart from others, I could also easily have been swayed by any of a number of the other amazing features – including;


The helicopter that picked me off the front lawn for a days heliboarding in virgin knee deep powder on a glacier in Mt Aspiring national park.


Or how about the buildings incredible finish, including the purposely-aged timber interior and the 20,000 tonnes of hand laid stone found throughout, even wrapping itself around the outdoor pool and day spa.


But no I ignored these and other details such as ‘Brad and Jen’ once stayed here, to arrive simply at the one thing that I spent my whole stay in vane trying to fault, -the menu.

And what an ever-changing masterpiece it was – hand crafted from selected ingredients aimed at delivering the full spectrum of pleasurable emotions to your taste buds – be it breakfast, lunch, dinner – or perhaps even a meal that you happened to invent in between. They not only had it – but the very best of ‘it’ –  in fact if they didn’t have ‘it’ – someone would be promptly sent to obtain ‘it.’


To demonstrate, one evening I tested ‘it’ with the following;

“Excuse me sir, -no Crayfish on the menu?”

“I’m really sorry sir, we’ll have some sent up from Kaikoura and have it ready for your dinner tomorrow evening, will that be alright?”

“oh yes that will be very alright thanks….’

Now I’m not much of a food snob, I’m not the type to sit there rubbing truffle on my top lip trying to guess from which hemisphere it was acquired – but in my humble ‘puts tomato sauce on everything’ opinion, this ever revolving menu was as good as it gets.


An opinion further cemented by the knowledge that the sous chef (second in command) was last years New Zealand chef of the year.


Very freaking classy.


To quantify the validity of such a superfluous statement, (and between you and me I don’t throw those at any old joint – oh no.) I need to point out that yes I’ve been spoilt in the past, with work putting me into places that I could never dream of affording to stay.

However with most of ‘those’ places it was as if every person and thing knew that fact from the moment you arrived, staff glaring at you like you would be lucky to even park cars there.

In fact I swear I once flushed a toilet in one such establishment only to hear it grumble ‘how dare you do that in me’


Blanket Bay on the other hand had none of this pomp and hoo-har about it, it oozed class in that confident ‘I know I’ve got it so I have nothing to prove’ sort of a way. Everyone in our group commenting on how instantly comfortable and at home we were made to feel from the moment we arrived.


Eric our host, was nothing but non-judgemental class and elegance as he explained tricky words on the menu to me, showed us how to play the strange game of sliders in the Den or amused my request for yet more tomato sauce. A true French gentleman, and as it turned out a huge rugby fan.

Blnaket bay Bedroom

One evening post some 57 course meal extravaganza and aching from the days snowboarding, I found myself slumped in the quicksand like leather chairs facing a growling open fire. Gazing around at the craftsmanship of the interior before me, I found it nigh on impossible to comprehend that this building was a mere 10 years of age.


Everything looked and felt so deliciously worn and comfortable, even the building itself seemed as if it had relaxed back into the hillside, parking its rump firmly into the granite and tussock like grandad taking a rest on a mountain track.


This overwhelming sensation of relaxation that seemed to permeate from every facet in the place proved itself thus by quickly engulfing all who entered. Suddenly I found myself walking slower, speaking softer and lingering longer. In fact at one point while sitting alone I could have sworn I heard it whisper to me, ‘hey buddy if I can be this relaxed then so can you my friend’.

++++++++++++++++++++++++

blanket-bay-in-the-winter

To learn more about Blanket Bay and its special mid season offers I’d encourage you to go direct to their website or to give them a call.

The staff are more than happy to answer any questions and their website gives excellent information about all it has to offer.

But be careful you may click through for ‘just a look’ but you’ll soon find yourself extending the limit on your credit card to taste its wares – consider yourselves warned.


Peak season is from December through to February -but with the falling New Zealand dollar this place is becoming ever more affordable all the time.


With only a small number of guest rooms and located in one of the most beautiful spots on earth it really is the perfect place for newlyweds looking for an unforgettable start to married life, or to anyone just looking for a bit of specialised peace and relaxation –even Wizards.


Here’s an edited down version of the story I covered for the travel show ~

A special moment in South America

Yesterday I invented a word that I sure was proud of at the time;

Alcotude: verb; -defined as the none to graceful art of drinking alcohol at altitude, its effects similar to being a 16 year old with an empty stomach drinking pre-mixes in a spa.
In other words -dangerous, and 87% more likely to end in tears.

Which is why today the inside of my head is trying to renovate itself by building a new deck out through my temples.

What’s even more odd is that I’m making that discovery while opening the throttle on a 250cc XR dirt bike -on the wrong side of the street -on the back roads (or they could be the main roads for all I currently know) of Cusco – very high in the Andes of Peru, South America.

At this exact point in time I have only 2 priorities in my life…
1: Do not get killed by any of the cars, sheep, chickens, children or trucks hurtling past at speeds whipping them into a blur…..although the blurred effect is possibly from the hangover.
2: Do not for the life of you lose the maniac non english speaking guide disappearing ahead of you at an even faster pace. Because being lost in these parts would significantly increase ones chances of failing priority 1.

These two thoughts being about all I could handle at this moment in time, however if a third had presented itself, it would surely have been – ‘Clarke, how the (insert own creative word here) did you end up in this situation sunshine?’

Good question. Lets rewind a little……and I could think of no better place to start than 28hours prior, where I was being woken in my tent at 4am on the last day of our 4 day trek to the lost Incan city of Machu Picchu, which also signified the start of the 24 hour challenge – but I’ll explain that later.Peru campfire

Waking we all hurriedly packed our tents and other heavy camping equipment before guiltily handing these over to the ever diligent man-forklift sherpas, whilst securing our pathetic day packs to our backs and convincing each other that we were still real trampers.
And then with torch on head we were off down the ancient Incan steps carved from stone twisting into the darkness before us.

Now the reason for being so early was so we could time our arrival perfectly with that of the new days sun, aiming to converge with it at an incredible spot called Intipunku – or ‘Gateway of the sun’.
Comprising of several large stone pillars, Intipunku is carved at the highest point of the ridge that was now the only thing standing between us and the lost city somewhere in the mist below.
And it was at this point that something happened that will stick with me for the rest of my life, an experience of which I’ll struggle to find its equal.

Now oddly no one knows the actual name of this lost city. The name ‘Machu Picchu’ being given to it in more recent times and translating roughly as ‘like a sort of an old mountain’
And having remained hidden from even the invading Spanish, it was a fella by the name of Hiram Bingham who in 1911 stumbled accidentally upon the overgrown ruins and presented it to the modern world.
And now here all these hundreds of years later was this rural guy from New Zealand, suddenly getting in touch with emotions he thought had bolted from the stable years prior – wandering towards it with tears running down his face.
Yes that right, tears – big wet salty man ones.

Now I can’t fully explain how this happened, -it may have been exhaustion from the 4 days trek, it might have been the way the mist lifted off as the sun warmed the ancient stone from which it was carved. Or it could have been the worlds best playlist which I had painstakingly created on my ipod for this moment and was now filling my head while blocking out all external sound.
I don’t really know how – it just sort of happened, and it was freaky.

To borrow the well worn – no amount of gazing at pictures moving or stationery, glossy or matte, no written description or spoken word could ever prepare you for what it was actually like to stand there.
Here I was in my own real life National Geographic article. I was mesmerized by features like the human sacrificial altar, the ancient sundial and the intricately carved Incan stone walls that I ran my fingers along as I walked about the place.

And yes while it soon filled up with tourists arriving by the train load it still held me transfixed as I took it all in.

A special moment in a special place, I will take my kids there one day.

And if any of my yet unborn children find this article somewhere in the future and I haven’t – kids print this out and come kick dads ass until he takes you, hopefully he won’t have forgotten the spell it cast over him.

And also hopefully he’s not an alcoholic – although the next few hours might explain where that also began.

The 24 challenge.
As alluded to earlier the other challenge presented that day was that of staying up and partying through until 4am the next morning – hence the ‘24 hours’ -a camp tradition so I was told.

And it was during this on the bus on our way back to the city of Cusco fuelled on the local drink of choice ‘pisco sour’ – or ‘pisco mcnasty’ as captain vernacular here had so ‘cleverly’ renamed it, that I invented the word ‘alcotude’ and then set about suffering its effects in one foul(sic) swoop.

So for the record yes I made it, in fact I think in perhaps some weird subconscious way of making up for my girly tears earlier, I foolishly continued well past it, on until 6am…..it gets worse. You see somehow in all of this (I’m choosing to blame the ‘alcotude’) I stupidly, stupidly forgot that I had signed up and paid for a motorbike adventure into back country Peru starting at 8am.

How I woke for that 2 hours later, let alone survived the SEVEN HOUR ride is as big a mystery as the man tears, especially as at one point I was even stopped by the local police – but I’ll save all that for tomorrows post because right now I have a body that needs at least 6 litres of water and a lie down.

Here’s some snippets from that adventure~

Getting ready for the big trip to Australia….

Hi – here’s a quick video I made showing me getting ready for my trip to Australia, with a couple of guest appearances from people you may recognise.

Boy this boy likes the sea

  

* I really do love tropical reefs and have spent time on and under the water at many spots including, with Sea snakes in Tonga, got spiked by an urchin in Indonesia, observed the overfishing in Rarotonga, patted giant clams in Aitutaki, hung out with turtles in Hawaii, startled a white tip in Fiji and recently donated skin to a reef in Samoa (nasty surfing accident)

 

*I’ve attended and support the movements drawing attention to the rising issue of Ocean Noise pollution and Shark Finning.

 

* When I was 10 I taught myself the name of every species of NZ fish, their Maori name and preferred habitat. I made fishing lures using my mums glue gun and dad’s ‘special pens’ (that went down a treat)

 

* My earliest childhood memory is riding on a surfboard with my dad

 

* Every summer I would row a dinghy out to sea and often fish alone for 8 hours at a time day after day– only keeping enough for dinner.

 

*I’ve been chased by seals and had several shark encounters surfing

 

* My girlfriend gave me a towbar for Valentines day, so we can tow the old trailer boat we were given to the boat ramp – ahhh romantic.

 

* I was the first person in the world to use soft baits in Antarctica and totally changed the method the scientists were using to catch the fish – they still send me reports of their success.

 

* I built the tropical fish tank in my vid from scratch in my backyard – it weighs over a ton! In 6 years I’ve never lost a single fish to disease (although a few have eaten each other – whoops)

Photos we tooked

How many times have you had tourists point out the things you take for granted? – I know I have in NZ, where its always so nice to hear people from overseas waxing lyrical about the things you knew were great but had lost perspective on.

Here’s a sample of photo’s my girlfriend and I have taken… she being the one that would come with me if I was chosen, and she being the one you can see here

Antarctic sunset....at 2am
Waiheke sunsetMt Erebus, Barne Glacier, Antarctica
Weddell Seal bones Antarctica
Long Shadow Antarctica
Père Lachaise CemeteryHawaiian Sunset
Sister adn the soon to be free 'burping shark'Shooting in ParisGisborne Early morningHu tong dog BeijingRippon Wanaka festival
Old boat Mahiaclarke-and-hollie-in-paris

additional Clarke hoo-har

 

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32 from New Zealand and owner of a spoilt life.

I’ve interviewed childhood heroes, been on work financed overseas adventures and stayed places that were once mere posters on the wall of my imagination.

carpet-weaver

Television

I’ve been a Music Television host, a Travel Show Host at both the luxury and budget end of the spectrum, a Men’s Relationship Advice Host and I’m currently shooting a documentary series following interesting Kiwis who are letting me try their occupations on for size. Spoilt.

clarke-blanket-bay

Radio

I’ve worked through all the timeslots on radio, and through all music formats before settling on a gem of a niche station, playing the music of my choosing in NO pre-determined order, void of the commercial.– bliss. 

Writer

I’ve complemented my travels with writings of places afar, these have snuck into national magazines and newspapers.

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DJ

I’ve played music to crowds around NZ, I’ve played music to crowds around Australia, I’ve even snuck in a tour of Europe.

barkers_02

So-Mary

Well I guess you could say I’m kind of an ‘old school’ rapidly becoming a ‘new school’ media type who lives for the yarn. I love people, period, from any period.

I love the back and forth, and am jam relishing the chance to audition for the Caretaking task ahead, and engaging my gauge online.

A bit of a chameleon really (complete with swivelly eyes and a stretchy tongue)

models

Want more?

Check this out and believe every second thing you read. Who writes these things?

-oh and here’s a quick sample from a couple of Getaway stories…