BEST PLACES YOU'VE NEVER HEARD OF
Scouting Report: Havelock, New Zealand
Eleven people lucky enough to travel for a living reveal their favorite recent discoveries—places they happened upon and still can't stop thinking about. Here are their stories.
THE TRAVELER Leon Logothetis, a London broker who jumped ship at the chance to work for the Discovery Channel show Destination Future. The experience inspired his own show, Amazing Adventures of a Nobody, which cataloged his super-frugal adventures from New York to L.A. and from Paris to Moscow.
THE PLACE Logothetis isn't the first man to attract a following by traveling with a daily budget of $5. Arthur Frommer, creator of the Frommer's travel guides and Budget Travel magazine, wrote Europe on $5 a Day back in the late 1950s. But Logothetis has taken on that challenge in the 2000s, when $5 may not even buy you breakfast.
During last year's winter holidays, with no TV crew around, Logothetis and a friend took a road trip in New Zealand, and they wound up in Havelock, amid the wineries and waterways of the South Island's northern tip. "We had just arrived by ferry from the North Island, and headed directly to Havelock to eat some mussels," he says. The town is known for its green-lipped mussels, which are superior in size and, many argue, in flavor to other mussel varieties. Logothetis favors The Mussel Pot, where diners sit around the fireplace on chilly evenings. "It bills itself as the world's premier mussel restaurant and doesn't disappoint," he says.
Havelock, Logothetis discovered, has more going for it than mussels. The village—with less than 500 residents—sits at the head of the wide, startlingly clear Pelorus Sound, and a boat or kayak boarded at the marina leads to winding waterways where dolphins jump from the water and dark-green mountains jut steeply into the air around every turn. First populated by gold miners and timber workers, Havelock's tiny downtown is chockablock with cute two-story colonial buildings that now house galleries and restaurants. "Both the North and South Islands of New Zealand are filled with dreamlike scenery and picturesque little towns," says Logothetis. "But of all of them, Havelock is my favorite. It's just this little slice of heaven, with great food, super-friendly people, and an amazing setting."
To experience the region's natural beauty at its best, Logothetis recommends kayaking or taking a water taxi from Havelock to the Nydia Track, as "beautiful and serene a walking trail that you can find," which leads to blissfully undeveloped beaches, as well as Te Mahoerangi, a remote ecolodge with cabins and dorm accommodations.
THE DETAILS It's a 30-minute drive from Picton (where ferry service connects the North and South Islands) to Havelock or a five-hour drive from Christchurch; car rentals, budget.co.nz, from $40 a day; The Mussel Pot, themusselpot.co.nz, steamed mussels $12; Te Mahoerangi, nydiatrack.org.nz, cabin for two $65.
Your turn! Have you discovered a place like these while traveling? Share your stories by posting a comment at the bottom of page 1: Binn, Switzerland.