Kiwi polo player Sam Hopkinson shares his favourite holiday memories
Where are your strongest memories from the first overseas trip you ever took?
The first trip I took for polo was to the UK to work as a groom for Ross Ainsley, one of the world’s best polo players. I flew from Auckland to Dubai to London on a freight plane carrying 12 polo ponies, three racehorses and a very large Rolls Royce for a member of the Dubai royal family. I remember spending most of the trip sitting in the Rolls Royce with the seat laid back. It was the closest to travelling First Class I would ever get! I arrived in London at 5am on a freezing cold foggy morning. After unloading the plane and dealing with the horses we travelled to Cowdray in a horse truck. Although I was completely exhausted I can vividly remember the excitement. I still get that same feeling when I land in London to this day.
What was a standard family holiday like when growing up?
Most school holidays, when not lamb marking or shearing, were at a small settlement on Lake Taupō called Hatepe. My grandfather had built a small fishing hut after the war that has evolved into a slightly bigger family bach. Time was spent swimming, water skiing and exploring up the river with my cousins. It’s still a very special place for our family with the fondest of memories.
What is the greatest trip you’ve ever been on?
I went to India on a polo tour and we were treated to some of the most amazing sites and experiences. The incredible wealth and extreme poverty was mind-blowing. I can still picture the crazy hustle and bustle at the airport, the colours and smells of the markets and the grand extravagance of the palace we stayed in.
And the worst?
Tianjin in China for the International Snow Polo. Although it was an adventure, it was freezing cold, grey and smoggy. The snow quality was bad and so the polo was scary, to say the least. We stayed in the hotel for the majority of the stay and everyone got sick. Not good.
*Broome’s Cable Beach in the Kimberley, Western Australia provided Kiwi polo player Sam Hopkinson’s most memorable sunset. Photo / Jarrad Seng NZ Herald