United Travel Getaway

From music television to travel show host, Clarke Gayford is now hoping the small screen you’ll be seeing him on soon is connected to your computer.

Gayford has landed a place as one of the top 50 finalists in Tourism Queenslands competition to find someone to blog about the Great Barrier Reef, beating out more than 34,000 rivals from all over the world.

The best job in the world, as it has been dubbed, is worth $150k (AUD) for the six month contract as well as including accomodation on Hamilton Island.  And all the winner has to do?  Is write a weekly blog entry.

If you’d like to help Clarke towards landing this job, you can vote for him here.

Check out Clarke’s audition video.




Renee Wright goes on a boat cruise in scenic Halong Bay in the north of Vietnam.
Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It covers some 1,500 kilometres scattered with thousands of limestone islands and grottoes rising from the waters of the Gulf of Bac Bo. Halong Bay is a popular spot for short tourist cruises, many of them on restored traditional junks. The cruise that Renee and her crew filmed was with the Emeraude Classic Cruises company and was on a replica of a 1910 paddle steamer. The cruise is usually just for 24 hours, but Renee and her team stayed onboard for two nights to get a bit of extra time to show viewers around. “The cruise boat was lovely,” said Renee. “Although it was a replica not a restored original, it was really nicely done. It had a nice old world charm about it, but will all mod cons.” Activities on board the Emeraude include early morning tai chi on the deck, boat trips to a huge limestone cave and to a swimming spot, and kayaking. The boat also has full spa and restaurant facilities. Renee said the Halong Bay trip was a nice contrast to filming in Hanoi a few days earlier. “I really enjoyed my trip to Hanoi, but it is pretty full-on with the mad motorbike traffic and all the hustle and bustle, so it was lovely to spend a couple of days and nights just peacefully cruising Halong Bay.”

UNITED TRAVEL GETAWAY, Tuesday 11th December at 7:30pm




In tonight’s 90-minute special we recap some of the favourite stories from the year.

The New Zealand and Australian hosts Host Renee Wright said there was no particular theme to the programme, “just good stories that we thought deserved another airing. One thing we have done is put quite a few animal stories in the Best Of because viewers seem to really love them. We’re going to have Jules from the Australian team with the gorillas in Rwanda, and their Dermott with cheetahs in Namibia. And we’re re-screening my story on the Great Bear Lodge in Canada, which was probably my number one favourite story to film.” Renee said she had absolutely loved working on Getaway this past year. “It really is the dream job for a broadcaster – travelling the world shooting a travel show.

“I’ve had so many good experiences, in fact my only bad experience was doing the whole three weeks of my Italy and Morocco trip without my luggage, which never got there and eventually arrived home in New Zealand just before I did. My colleague Clarke Gayford wasn’t quite so lucky with his year – I think his nose may still be recovering from the frost nip he got in the Antarctic. I don’t envy him that trip. It was really tough.”

Though UNITED TRAVEL GETAWAY is finishing this year, there will be a special six-part series screening through January and February showcasing the stories made by the New Zealand team of reporters.

UNITED TRAVEL GETAWAY, Tuesday 18th December at 7:30pm




Renee Wright visits Hanoi in Vietnam on this week’s United Travel Getaway. Hanoi is a city with a tough history of French colonisation and then the Vietnam War, but in more recent times it has embraced tourism, with visitors appreciating the city’s vibrancy and interesting mix of cultures.

Renee and her crew stayed at the Sofitel Metropole Hanoi, one of the world’s most legendary hotels, established in 1901 during the French colonisation of Vietnam. The hotel has had many celebrity guests, including Charlie Chaplin, Somerset Maugham, Graham Greene, and, more recently, Angelina Jolie. It featured in the movie The Quiet American, based on the Graham Greene novel of the same name. The Metropole is in the French Quarter of Hanoi, known for its French colonial architecture and wide, tree-lined boulevards, contrasting with the narrow streets of the Old Quarter of Hanoi.

“We filmed in both the French Quarter and the Old Quarter for our story,” said Renee. “They’re both amazing, but very different. The French Quarter has beautiful old buildings like the Hanoi Opera House, and a little more room to move. The Old Quarter is just chaos and madness, with the weirdest traffic system – well, there is no system really, just hundreds of motorbikes coming at you. You take your life in your hands every time you cross the road. It’s a bit overwhelming at first, but when you get used to it, you see the nice side of the Old Quarter – the years of rich history and the intriguing little shops.” Also in the Old Quarter, Renee visited Cha Ca La Vong restaurant, famous for serving just one dish – a marinated and grilled fish. “It’s lovely little restaurant, very authentic, and the fish was delicious.”

Renee also attended the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre, a popular entertainment with tourists and locals alike. The traditional puppet show is performed in water and is said to take its inspiration from an early flood when villagers saw religious icons from the churches bobbing in the water.

UNITED TRAVEL GETAWAY, Tuesday 4th December at 7:30pm




Clarke Gayford visits the icy wonderland of Antarctica and returns home with more than just memories.
The Antarctic is not quite the usual tourist travel destination covered by the programme, but Clarke was there filming a pilot for another series and took the opportunity to file a story for GETAWAY as well. “Regular tourists can’t really do a trip like I did, but there are Antarctic cruises you can go on that every single participant I’ve spoken to has absolutely raved about, and I can completely understand why,” said Clarke. “It really is the closest you can get to being on another planet – an incredibly beautiful, amazing place.

“I was there late last month and it was still extremely cold so we didn’t see a lot of animal life -just a few penguins and some seals. But the scenery is absolutely extraordinary.” Clarke’s trip was very challenging, with a night spent in a snow cave in the middle of a storm, and a couple of injuries due to the extreme cold. “Like a scene from Dumb And Dumber I got my tongue stuck to a fishing rod and lost a bit of skin, and then wore a balaclava with a hole in the nose giving me a case of ‘frost nip’ which I painfully discovered is the baby brother to frost bite. My nose blackened up and I lost the surface layer of skin, making for some good bragging rights amongst friends when I got back.

“It was certainly a lot tougher than other stories I’ve done for GETAWAY, like hanging out on Aitutaki in the Cook Islands or staying at the Blanket Bay resort in Queenstown, but it was also a once-in-a-lifetime adventure that I’m still telling stories about.”

UNITED TRAVEL GETAWAY, Tuesday 27th November at 7:30pm




On this week’s United Travel Getaway Renee Wright visits the colourful city of Marrakesh in Morocco.
Renee stayed at Riad Mesc el Lil, a Moroccan house dating from the 18th century that has been transformed into a modern boutique hotel by New Zealander Patricia Lebaud. The Riad is near Djemaa el Fna, the main square in Morocco with its snake charmers, performers of all types, and markets famous for arts and crafts and aggressive sales tactics. Marrakesh is known as the red city because of its pink-tinted buildings. The majestic Koutoubia Mosque is the city’s most famous monument. As well as soaking up the sights and sounds of central Marrakesh, Renee also travelled out to the Jardin Majorelle, the world famous garden established by French painter Jacques Majorelle, and once owned by Yves St Laurent. The garden combines lush vegetation with traditional Moroccan architectural elements, many of them painted a striking cobalt blue because it was the colour of the over-alls of the original French gardeners.

UNITED TRAVEL GETAWAY, Tuesday 20th November at 7:30pm

Renee Wright continues her trip around Italy and visits an Italian cooking school just North of Rome.

“Fontana del Papa” is a live-in cooking school in a restored 16th century farmhouse, run by Claudio Pierotti, Assuntina Antonacci and their family. Ten years ago, the farmhouse at Fontana del Papa sat in a state of ruin.

The house, located about an hour away from Rome at the top of a hill surrounded by beautiful Italian countryside, was uninhabited and had no electricity.

The building looked like it was barely standing. Claudio and Assuntina have restored the farmhouse, preserving the structure’s traditional character by keeping the terracotta floors, vaulted ceilings and wooden beams, but installing modern kitchen facilities for the cooking school.

The produce used at the school is picked fresh from the Fontana del Papa garden and the organic extra virgin olive oil is from Claudio and Assuntina’a own olive grove. Renee said that as well as the main cooking lessons, Fontana del Papa also offered pasta-making demonstrations and wine-tasting.

“The farmhouse has an amazing amount of history and character about it, but still manages to feel like a family home, which is just lovely. It is the full-on Italian food and wine experience, not to mention an exceptionally nice place to stay.”

UNITED TRAVEL GETAWAY, Tuesday 13th November at 7:30pm

Host Renee Wright takes a tour of Italy’s picturesque Amalfi Coast, which has been voted one of the world’s best road trips.

The Amalfi Coast is made up of 13 towns along the road that goes from the Gulf of Salerno to Naples (50 kilometres).

Renee stayed at Casa Angelina Lifestyle Hotel in the tiny fishing village of Praiano, and travelled around the coast in a little black smart car convertible.

The Amalfi Coast is known for its beautiful sea views, scenic walks, quaint villages, ancient churches and other historic buildings, lemon groves and gardens.

Renee said she had always wanted to go to Italy and the Amalfi Coast in particular.

“I’m a romantic at heart and the Amalfi Coast certainly measured up to the classic picture postcard image of Italy that I’ve always had in my mind.”

UNITED TRAVEL GETAWAY, Tuesday 6th November at 7:30pm on PRIME

This week’s United Travel Getaway is a special on the United Kingdom.

The “UK for Everyone” special looks at budget, family and luxury travel in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Stories include pub darts in Cambridge; Legoland at Windsor; the Royal Ascot races; political murals in Northern Ireland; canal boating in Oxford; cycling Hadrian’s Wall; the Lake District; Leeds; the Cardiff Arms Park all male choir in Wales, and Edinburgh Castle.

UNITED TRAVEL GETAWAY, Tuesday 30th October at 7:30pm on PRIME

On this week’s UNITED TRAVEL GETAWAY Renee Wright samples the best of what Sydney has to offer for a girlie pampering weekend.

Renee brings along her very own girls for the occasion – her mother Marian and her sister Monique make special guest appearances on the programme.

Monique lives in Sydney, where she works for the beauty company Estee Lauder and also does some part-time modelling, and Renee and Marian flew in from New Zealand for their special girls’ weekend. Renee and her “girls” stayed at the new Fraser Suites hotel in midtown Sydney.

They went to the exclusive Spa Chakra, which has something of a celebrity reputation, and attended opening night of the new production of Miss Saigon. They had pre-theatre dinner at Astral Restaurant and a bit of an after-show flutter at the Star City Casino. And in their spare time they fitted in a bit of Sydney shopping.

Renee says her job on Getaway is always wonderful, but this story was particularly fun to do.

“We decided to do the real top-of-the-line version of a girls’ weekend in Sydney, so everything we did was luxurious and I felt so spoilt the whole time. And it was even more special because my mum and Monique were there with me”.

UNITED TRAVEL GETAWAY: Tuesday 23rd October at 7:30pm on PRIME