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Phil Keoghan is the presenter of international travel reality show 'The Amazing Race,' a show that has taken him around the world many times after being the host for sixteen (and counting) series of the show. Phil also serves as Ambassador for his home region Christchurch and Canterbury, New Zealand. Despite work in the United States he tells The Luxury Travel Bible he manages to return home to New Zealand as often as twelve times a year.
" The Amazing Race has taken me all over the world to some amazing places but there is still nothing like New Zealand. Canterbury has a special place in my heart. I still get excited every time I fly into Christchurch and see the snow-capped Southern Alps, the patchwork of the Canterbury Plains and the beautiful, unspoiled coastline," says Keoghan.

Phil Keoghan

Phil's work on The Amazing Race has earned him seven prime-time Emmy Awards (and he has been nominated again this year) and he has written the best-selling book, 'No Opportunity Wasted' , which was also made into a television series. He is about to release a feature documentary based on his 3,417, miles (5,500 kilometres) bike ride across the United States. In June it was announced that Phil will host and produce another reality travel show, the as-yet-untitled series about the Velux 5 Oceans Race which will follow the 2010-2011 race.

With that much travel a year The Luxury Travel Bible was thrilled when Keoghan let us to get our hands on his OPEN PASSPORT.

What does 'luxury 'mean to you?
Luxury is having great food and my favourite people around me in comfortable surroundings. Ultimately it doesn't matter where you are the most important thing is being in a place with interesting people. Having time is always a keen factor, knowing that you are free to indulge with the pressure of deadlines.
Favourite location that you have visited with The Amazing Race and why?
Being inherently curious, anywhere new is always a bonus for me. Seeing a place for the first time reminds me of what it would have been like for the old time explorers, in another life I probably would have ventured off like Shackleton into the unknown. Apart from New Zealand I'm a big fan of Italy, it is the perfect combination of people, culture, history and of course great food and wine.
The show is very fast paced. How long, on average, do you get to stay in each location?
Sometimes we are only on the ground for a few hours a day, but usually we have at least one overnight stay. The entire series, 12 -13 shows, takes about 24 days and about 49,709 miles (80,000 kilometres) of travel visiting at least four continents and about 30 cities.
Why you believe The Amazing Race remains a success?
The fact that we never repeat ourselves is a major factor. Unlike other shows that use the same sets we never have the same background on the show. Most shows have fresh faces each season, we have fresh faces and places .
Could you call The Amazing Race a travel show?
Certainly people see it that way. People love discovering new places on the show. We have the benefit of being able to highlight people and places that usually only make it on TV when there's bad news, The Amazing Race offers the audience a different perspective of the world.
wilsons abel tasman national park www.abeltasman.co.nz
wilsons abel tasman national park www.abeltasman.co.nz
castle hill rocks
castle hill
the west coast   cape foulwind
the west coast   fox glacier
the west coast   munro beach
What is your most memorable travel experience?
That would be tough to pick, thankfully I keep topping my experiences. The majority of my travel has been captured in front of a camera so I have a great visual record! Dinner on a volcano with a five-star chef, diving the world's longest underwater caves, renewing my wedding vows underwater with a scuba diving priest ... too hard to pick one thing.
Is there anywhere that you haven't been in the world that you have always wanted to visit?
I've had three trips to Nepal cancelled for many different reasons. I've had 'climb Mount Everest' on my NOW Life List since I was 19 so always wanted to see that part of the world. I hope to take my Dad with me, it would be a dream come true for him.
What are your favourite five places in New Zealand?
The Coromandel, The West Coast, The Port Hills, Castle Hill in Arthur's Pass, Abel Tasman National Park.
How often do you get back to New Zealand and what do you appreciate most about the country now that you spend less time there?
I try and get back at least every eight weeks. I've actually been back 12 times in a year. The thing I miss most are friends and family, places are always about people for me and I do miss New Zealanders when I'm away.
Your near-death experience while wreck diving at 19 led to your 'No Opportunity Wasted' List for Life. Tell us more about how this inspired you?
Basically it was a wakeup call. A pivotal moment that forced me to assess what I really wanted to do in life. Ultimately it focused me to really set out to achieve my dreams and the best part has been finding a way to share that energy with other people.
Why do you think everyone should have a "No Opportunity Wasted" List?
I think too many people talk about one day they are going to do this that or the other and unfortunately we only have NOW. As you get older you realise how short life is and the importance of taking a bite of life when you have the chance.
As you get older you realise how short life is and the importance of taking a BITE OF LIFE when you have the chance.
Favourite luxury hotel?
A small luxury Inn on the volcanic island of Stromboli in the Aeolian Ocean. I would call it rustic luxury. I'm not a big fan of large hotels.
Favourite restaurant?
Right now, Blue Plate Oysterette in Santa Monica. I always start with a dozen oysters of the waiter's choice, usually four different varieties in one serving.
What is the one luxury experience you will never forget?
The first time I ever flew on a corporate jet. It was a brand new luxury machine with all the trimmings. I was not expecting it so that made it even more amazing. I turned up at a private hanger, was offered a cool glass of water, got led out to the plane and minutes later was being served lunch at 30,000 feet. I'm so used to long security lines that I had to pinch myself that I was the only person on the flight apart from the pilots of course. Not exactly environmentally responsible but also not something that I do every day either.
What do you never leave home without?
A good book, my laptop, Moleskin diary, pencils, sunscreen, digital camera, cell phone, sun glasses, wallet.
Where to next?
I'm planning some more big adventures. Last year I rode my bike across America, 100 miles (160 kilometres) a day for 40 days. In a few weeks I leave for France to check out the Tour de France. There are always new things being put on my list.

Keoghan'S CHOICE

Christchurch, NZ: www.christchurchnz.com
New Zealand Tourism: www.newzealand.com
The West Coast, NZ: www.westcoastnz.com
The Coromandel: www .thecoromandel.com
Abel Tasman, National Park: www.abeltasman.co.nz
Blue Plate Oysterette, Santa Monica: www.blueplatesantamonica.com
No Opportunity Wasted: www.noopportunitywasted.com
Velux 5 Oceans Race: www.velux5oceans.com
Sarah Bryans 15/7/10

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