What was it like being back in NZ for the Amazing Race again?
This is our third time back! Of course being a New Zealander I'm always saying, 'come on guys, lets go back!' Three visits in 13 seasons is pretty good considering the numerous choices we have in the world. For me I just love coming home, the smell of the air, the green, the people, it sure doesn't feel like work. I love sharing NZ with new visitors and giving them a chance to share in some real Kiwiana: Peanut Slabs, Vegemite, One Square Meals bars, Jaffas, PK chewing gum, Whitebait patties, Watties Baked Beans, Kiwi wines, Burger Fuel burgers, green lipped mussels, Bluff Oysters and rugby.
The Amazing Race has now been to NZ three times, what is your highlight?
Having my Dad as the greeter at the pitstop and it was his birthday so that made it even better. "Hi I'm Phil's Dad, welcome to New Zealand", the teams got a real kick out of it and all the women wanted to hug him. He really enjoyed working with the crew, we have a fantastic group of people working on the show and he loved talking to everyone. There's a funny piece of video shot of me and my Dad talking on the mat.
Why is New Zealand a great destination for the Race? What was the appeal of Auckland and Tauranga?
In season two we got to the South Island and Queenstown, the adventure capital of the world. In season five we visited the central North Island, so this time we hang out up north. Of course you are spoilt for choice in New Zealand, I would love to have had the teams get south again to visit my parent's bed and breakfast in Rolleston, but with the speed of the course we decided to stay up north.
What are your favourite places in New Zealand?
My ancestors come from Westport, I think the West Coast of the South Island is stunning. One of my favorite events is the Wild Foods Festival in Hokitika each year, when it comes to food, anything goes there, Huhu grubs, possum stew, mountain oysters, gorse wine, fish eyes ... it is wild. My other favorite spot is the Coromandel, places like Hot Water Beach and New Chums. My family has a house there so that's where we escape to.
What do you think visitors would enjoy the most in New Zealand?
The people. At the end of the day travel is all about people. Sure we have spectacular scenery, everyone’s seen it on Lord of the Rings (that was real!), but Kiwis are quite unique. Check out the movie The World's Fastest Indian the Burt Munroe character in that movie is just like my grandfather and so many 'can do Kiwis'.
Where did you go on vacation when you were growing up?
I grew up in Antigua, in the West Indies, that felt like a holiday all the time. But we would occasionally make trips back to New Zealand and it was always with family on the West Coast.
How often do you visit New Zealand?
I think I've been back 12 times this year. I did four return trips in March alone... I like to think I commute!
When do you think is the best time to visit New Zealand?
I love spring [September to November] with the flowers and new born lambs and summer [December to February] of course, being able to have a BBQ on Christmas Day at the beach is awesome.
What is your favourite New Zealand wine?
I love all Pinot Noir wines from NZ, always keen to try something new. Just had some of my friend Roger Donaldson's wine. Of course the Savs are also killer on a hot summer's day.
The Amazing Race has now been going for 13 seasons and won six Emmy's which is a great accomplishment! Why do you think people love the show so much?
Great quality programming. Consistently good production values. New places and new faces each season. A chance to escape on the ultimate adventure while sitting in your most comfortable chair.
What is one thing about New Zealand that people might not know?
It's really not that far. You get on a plane, have a nice meal, a little wine, fall asleep and you wake up in paradise.
What is one thing about New Zealand that you hope never changes?
The Kiwi Spirit, people's incredible resourcefulness, their hospitality, ingenuity and good natured temperament.