Celebrity News

Kiwi celebs reveal their plans for 2024

Our celebs share their rest and relaxation resolutions

Jeanette Thomas

One summer road trip has gone down as legendary in Jeanette Thomas’ memory.

“In 1988, in the fifth form, my school friends headed away to the Coromandel for our first summer road trip on our own,” recalls The Breeze Breakfast co-host. “One friend had her licence. We just piled into her green Datsun and couldn’t believe our parents said we could go. We had the best time and recently celebrated our 50ths together. Nothing’s changed, except for some topics of conversation – menopause, HRT and our adult children!”

For Jeanette, 51, who shares children Charlie, 22, and Mia, 19, with her husband Dave, a great Kiwi summer means “leftovers, long evenings, no 3.30am alarm and legitimately not knowing what day it is between Boxing Day and New Year.”

For this year’s hot-weather holiday, the radio personality is sticking to the tried and true.

“Great Barrier Island is our go-to spot and has been for 25 years,” says Jeanette. “We love it for its beaches, bush walks, the wonderful locals and compulsory switch off and reset time.”

As a child, her family opted for a different kind of break, spending summer holidays at the farm of family friends in Tirau, Waikato. “We’d get up early and milk the cows and after that there was always a big, cooked breakfast with deep-fried bread. Then we’d spend the day riding tractors and motorbikes, playing with animals and swimming. Those were the days!”

Jeanette hopes to “get more disciplined at having early nights” in 2024. And the one thing she dreams of leaving behind in 2023? “The rain. Definitely the rain.”


Beach or pool? Beach

Barbecue or picnic? Picnic

Surfing or paddleboarding? Surfing

Ice cream or popsicle? Ice cream (Giapo!)

Music or books? Books

Sam Wallace

Now that he’s a busy dad of three, this time of year is a juggling act for Sam Wallace.

“My summers are wildly different compared to what they used to be,” says the Coast FM co-host, 42. “Having three young kids has been a sharp adjustment. All I do now is apply sunscreen constantly to little people’s bodies, and try to find their spades and shoes!”

This year, Sam, his wife Sarah, 40, and their three munchkins – Brando, who turned five on December 28, and twins Cosette and Sienna, who turn three this month – will be taking a special summer trip.

“We’re shooting to Fiji because we’ve been offered our good friend’s timeshare, which makes it a lot more affordable. Then we’ll hit the Coromandel for a week later in January. Other than that, it’s beach days around Auckland.”

The past year has been a blast for the popular radio personality, who transformed his health through fitness.

“It allowed me to be a happier, more energetic husband and dad, and I want to expand on it,” he says. “I’ll probably spend the entire summer break boring people with my training ideas!”

One of Sam’s favourite childhood memories is of camping at West Auckland’s Muriwai Beach with his family, “staying up late in the sand dunes and surrounding bush, cooking around an open fire and surfing all day.”

For 2024, he’s looking forward to watching his kids grow. “They’re at that stage where they’re finding their way and developing passions, and it’s so cool to watch.”


Beach or pool? Beach

Barbecue or picnic? Barbecue

Surfing or paddleboarding? Surfing

Ice cream or popsicle? Ice cream before 26 degrees and ice block after that!

Music or books? Coast FM!

Mel Homer

She’s made her name in radio and TV, but there will be no cloistered studios for Mel Homer this summer.

The former Today FM host proved she was made of tough stuff on 2023’s Celebrity Treasure Island and this summer she’s set her sights on even more outdoor action.

“My holiday plans involve boats, boards and beaches,” says Mel, 53. “I’m hoping to get lots of surfing in and I’m heading to the Bay of Islands for Bay Week Regatta at the end of January.

“I’m planning on getting out on the water a lot. I’ve just signed on to Skipperi, which is a boat subscription service. They’re passionate about getting more women out on the water. I’m all for that!”

Mel, who shares sons Jesse, 23, Finn, 20, and Tom, 17, with her sailmaker husband Andy, 51, has fond childhood memories of sailing with her family.

“Long cruises to the Bay of Islands or Great Barrier. New Year’s Eve parties on the beach. Dad diving for crayfish and scallops… It’s funny because as adults, my husband and I have replicated pretty much exactly those holidays with our kids.”

The past year, says Mel, has delivered some great lessons on how to be resilient and on saying “yes to things that take you beyond your comfort zone – Celebrity Treasure Island, I’m looking at you”!

As for what she wants to leave behind, she says, “Self-doubt and believing I’m not enough. Oh – and my dodgy hip!”


Beach or pool? Can I say both? No? Okay, beach

barbecue or picnic? Barbecue

Surfing or paddleboarding? Surfing

Ice cream or popsicle? Ice cream. I have a real aversion to biting down on ice-block sticks

Music or books? Books

Teuila Blakely

If there’s one rule Teuila Blakely has for summer, it’s this: don’t spend all your precious time in the car.

“My favourite summer road trip is Tauranga, the Mount and Waihi Beach,” laughs the Auckland-based actor. “I don’t like to drive too far – anything over three hours is a flight!”

Summer is a special time for the former Shortland Street star, who turned 49 on January 13.

“Summers felt longer and hotter when I was a child, especially growing up in Tauranga, and also spending summers in Kerikeri, where my paternal grandmother lived. Every summer is the best summer in my life. It’s my favourite season.

“I love the barbecues and I also love that we celebrate Christmas during summer in New Zealand. That’s such a cool thing about being Kiwi.”

The past couple of years have been tough for Teuila, who is mum to son Jared, 31. In January 2022, her beloved mother Auali’itia Su’a Levaopolo Martha Schwalger-Blakely passed away.

“After losing my dear Mama, a lot of 2022 and 2023 was spent tying up loose ends. It’s been a couple of years of grief and transition for me.

“The past year has been really demanding and has taught me the importance of saying no. There’s a real power in it. One does not have to say yes to everything – unless, of course, that makes you happy!

“I’m not making any resolutions for 2024. I just try to make the most of each year that I get above ground. This year I’d like to do less and be more.”


Beach or pool? Beach

Barbecue or picnic? Barbecue

Surfing or paddleboarding? Doggy paddling

Ice cream or popsicle? Popsicle

Music or books? Music

Ngahuia Piripi

With a busy career playing surgeon and CEO Dr Esther Samuels on Shortland Street and a hectic home life raising three kids, Ngahuia Piripi can’t think of anything more appealing than a staycation this summer, “with a sneaky little visit home to Ahipara should our stars align”.

In addition to her daughter Owairea, 14, from a previous relationship, the actress shares son Niau, two, and daughter Aewa, one, with her actor partner Teone Kahu.

“We usually make the most of our summers in the Far North, but a couple of babies later, the idea of little travel and instead enjoying our own backyard sounds perfectly fine to me,” laughs Ngahuia. “Besides, we wanted Aewa’s first Christmas and birthday to be at home.”

Aewa was born on Boxing Day in 2022, which is also Ngahuia’s birthday (she celebrated turning 33) and the star’s making sure her kids get to enjoy all the good things a New Zealand January has to offer.

“My favourite summer memories are anything to do with my grandparents,” says the actor. “They really were, and still are, my entire life.

“Now, my best summers are anywhere my kids will be. I love barbecues, crayfish, a classic Kiwi dip, hāngi, strawberries, ice creams… you name it!”

Amid the juggles of life, this year Ngahuia has come to appreciate what a precious commodity time is.

“I’ve learned how to value my time and to understand what it’s worth,” she says. “There’s no substitute for time, so I’ve really focused on who and what I might give my time to recently.”

As for what she’d like to leave firmly behind in 2023? “Covid!”


Beach or pool? Can I say pool by the beach?

Barbecue or picnic? Barbecue. A girl can love meat, right?

Surfing or paddleboarding? Paddleboarding

Ice cream or popsicle? Lemonade ice blocks

Justine Smith

Welcoming the new year is a time of optimism for comedian Justine Smith. “A lesson I have learned is to trust that great opportunities happen,” says Justine, 55. “In my line of work, it can be stressful wondering what’s next, but each year I look back and realise I’ve been part of some super-cool things.”

Justine, a former winner of the Billy T Award, says one thing she’d like to leave behind in 2023 is the hot flush. “They come and go at the moment, but I’d like to no longer suddenly feel like I’ve been plunged into a volcano in the middle of Farmers.”

The Pulp Comedy and 7 Days star has happy memories of summer caravan holidays “all over the South Island with my mum, dad, sister, grandparents and cousins… swimming all day, swing bridges, chasing jandals down the river, milkshakes and Crunchie bars, Dad’s burnt barbecue sausages – yum!”

These days, she prefers a “staycation” in Auckland with her husband Dan Crozier, 48, and cats Gus and Franklin.

“I love how quiet the city feels with everyone up north! We will be spending a few days at beautiful Oakura in Taranaki with Dan’s family. Dan and I do enjoy Christmas morning together. Our ritual is whitebait fritters made by him and mimosas made by me. Then presents – if I can wait that long.”

The best part of a Kiwi summer? “Long, lovely, light evenings on the deck, fresh salads and slow-cooked something, pinot gris and board games.”


Beach or pool? Beach, if there’s shade

Barbecue or picnic? A picnic with a barbecue

Surfing or paddleboarding? Paddling

Ice cream or popsicle? Orange choc-chip ice cream

Music or books? Books, if I absolutely had to choose

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