The New Zealand-based international polo player Ross Ainsley shares his favourite travel memories
What do you miss most about travel right now?
The sense of freedom.
What are your strongest memories from the first overseas trip you ever took
I was born in Australia and my first trip overseas was here, to New Zealand. I remember it all too clearly – a duck bit my finger in Rotorua.
What was a standard family holiday like when growing up?
We are a horse-mad family and so our holidays were centred around going to shows, competing in showjumping events and any other thing to do with horses.
Who has most inspired your travels?
Nowadays it’s an Instagram account called expeditionearth.live These guys go to the most amazing places and capture them beautifully. I want to take my family to all of those locations!
What is the greatest trip you’ve ever been on?
To be honest I have been extremely lucky to be able to play polo in more than 20 countries. Among those, we have had so many incredible experiences and met the most amazing people. It’s too difficult to pick one greatest trip.
And the worst?
The last trip coming back to New Zealand was pretty average having to do the two-week quarantine, but I was glad to be home.
What’s your approach to packing for a big trip?
Travel as light as humanly possible! Easier for humans to pack light than horses!
What is the destination that most surprised you – good or bad?
Broome in Western Australia was a surprise package. It was great fun getting up into
that remote area of Australia area to have a good look around. Playing polo on the beach at low tide was awesome. Jeju Island in South Korea was another surprise. The food and people there were next level. It was a great experience to play polo there.
Where was your most memorable sunrise/sunset?
Sunset in Norway in mid-summer in the mountains. It was mind-blowing simply because it didn’t happen! The sun didn’t set that far north. It was spectacular and the people playing polo there were the best.
What’s the first thing you do when you get home from a long trip?
What do you miss most about home when you travel?
If my family is with me while I am travelling it’s the dogs I miss or just New Zealand in
general. New Zealand is a great country – and I’m Australian so I feel I can say that from a very non-biased perspective. We are lucky to live here and the more I travel and the more places I see, the luckier I think we are. We are lucky we are getting to have events such as Lexus Urban Polo, playing in front of crowds, without masks and no social distancing – it is pretty extraordinary for 2021.
Where is the one destination you must see in your lifetime?
There are many I want to see and play polo in as soon as possible. I’m working on trips to Egypt and Iran at the moment, playing once the world gets back to normal. Iran is where polo originated sometime after 6th Century BC, so playing there would be pretty special.
What’s your favourite thing about travel?
Meeting the people and experiencing and learning about the vastly different cultures and history. Luckily for me, polo has afforded me some pretty interesting adventures.
Ross Ainsley is an international polo player and founder or Ainsley Polo. He’ll be playing at Lexus Urban Polo on March 20 at Auckland Domain (back-up date March 27). Tickets available at urbanpolo.co.nz