Interview: Sidharth Malhotra: I like to explore hidden bars or restaurants

Sidharth Malhotra

Actor Sidharth Malhotra, Tourism New Zealand’s newest brand ambassador, tells us about his favourite travel moments

I like to go to offbeat places. Even if I’m in New York for just three days, I like to go into the interiors, to explore hidden bars or restaurants. I like to visit places that are unique and not where the whole world goes, unless it’s something iconic like the pyramids or the Eiffel Tower. I tend to avoid touristy places and pick something with more local flavour.

My most memorable childhood trip has to be to Spain. My dad was in the merchant navy and there was a port in Spain, so we went there on holiday. He rented a sports car; and, to me, as an 11-year-old, that was very cool. A carnival was happening on the streets at the time and I remember it being very colourful and lively. It was also the first time I tried oysters and became obsessed with them.

The best place I’ve visited on work is New Zealand. The whole thing came about when I told my managers that I was planning to head to New Zealand for the new year. They told me Tourism New Zealand was looking for a brand ambassador and that’s how talks started. In the 10 days I was there, I took some 11 flights. As soon as I landed, I immediately hit the SkyWalk in Auckland. Standing at the edge of the building, my jet lag just vanished. I did so much on that trip – scuba diving, sand- boarding, jet boarding, swimming in the sea… But if I had to pick one thing that stood out, it has to be skydiving over Queenstown. The scenery there is awesome – mountains, lakes, greenery! The best bit was the 60 seconds of freefall 15,000ft above sea level – what a high!

My travel kit contains just the basics: a backpack in which to stash stuff I’ve bought, music and headphones to cut out the noise when I’m between airport gates, something to read on my Kindle, a jacket and comfy shoes.

I have this big empty fish bowl at home, which I fill up with all the loose change I collect from the countries I visit. I make sure I have some change leftover from every trip; else I borrow some when I’m there. Years from now, I’ll have a bowl full of coins from all over the world, and, who knows, one day, it might be worth something.