Radio host and restaurant reviewer Jesse Mulligan. Photo by Victoria Birkenshaw.

Top Spot: Jesse Mulligan


Jesse Mulligan is a writer, MC and RNZ National radio presenter. He shares his top spot for a nostalgic summer holiday.

“When I was a kid, we always used to holiday in the Far North. My grandfather had a place in Whangaroa Harbour, up past Kerikeri, on the east coast. I didn’t realise how special it was until I got older. Now I know it was one of the most stunning places in New Zealand, if not the world.

There are these massive volcanic rock faces surrounded by native bush, plunging straight into a harbour. Beautiful to look at with decent fishing, heaps of beaches and in the middle of nowhere. They sometimes call it the Milford Sound of the North.

Jesse Mulligan INP

Jesse Mulligan reflects on his favourite New Zealand spot to visit in Northland. Photo by Victoria Birkenshaw.

The bach was on top of a hill. The most exciting part of the holiday was opening up cardboard boxes and sliding down the hill on a box. You’d hope the grass had dried enough for you to get some speed up. A kid with an iPad would laugh at me these days! But it was the thing we looked forward to all year.

We’d go fishing, and go to little beaches in the harbour, collecting cockles and pipis. Sometimes we’d wade out with a net. Classic Kiwi beach stuff.

I think holidays are partly about activities and partly about nostalgia. My dad took me and my brother, and then I took my young kids. The memories of what a place means to you is what gives it its value.

The bach is an old Lockwood house. So I had to explain to my kids that when the sun goes down and they hear these massive cracking noises, it doesn’t mean it’s going to collapse on them.

It’s got no insulation, big windows, threadbare curtains. But everything you’d want for a magic holiday.”


Story by Emily Draper for the Autumn 2024 issue of AA Directions Magazine. Emily Draper is the Deputy Editor of AA Directions magazine. 

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