'Professional tourist' takes a break from the thrills of travel

Last updated 08:09 15/11/2012

Hap Cameron talks about his adventures while traveling the world for nine years.

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Hap Cameron has visited every continent and worked 32 jobs along the way.

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It was while fearing for his life as an African conman held him hostage that Hap Cameron realised he had become an "over-confident" traveller.

The Nelson-born professional tourist has spent the last eight years of his life living on all seven continents while working 32 different jobs.

This was a goal the then 22-year-old set out to achieve by his 30th birthday on the 11th day of the 11th month of 2011.

It was in Africa, his final stop to complete his journey, that he was tricked into getting into a car and then taken to a ghetto where he was mugged and threatened.

"It was the most frightening 40 minutes of my life and I thought I was going to die," he said.

"You have to make a lot of quick decisions when you're travelling and I guess at the end of eight years I had got a bit over-confident."

Cameron has been in New Plymouth this week where he spoke at a Taranaki Young Professionals event on Tuesday night.

The 31-year-old inspirational speaker and author of Hap Working the World, is on a five-week tour of the country doing his best to motivate young people.

His name is always a talking point and like everything he has done - there's a story to go with it.

"I cried a lot as a baby and was generally a grizzly bugger, and being a typical male sarcastic Kiwi my Dad nicknamed me Happy and it just got shortened over time to Hap," he says.

Hap was on a working holiday on the Gold Coast at the end of his second year of university when the inspiration came for his trip.

"I was working 60 hours a week sanding wood and loving it and thought if I'm enjoying doing this in Australia imagine what it would be like working all over the world," he said.

There's been a mixture of highs, lows, bumps and obstacles along the way for Hap and it was a serious fall from a rope swing four years into the mission that sealed his fate.

"I'd been kicked out of America and had come back to New Zealand and had a serious accident in the Marlborough Sounds.

"I was lying on the ground wondering if I could even walk again and realised I needed to sort out what I was doing with my life," he says.

With his goal back on track and recovered from his injuries Hap set off again and walked straight into a love story.

It was outside a toilet in a bar in Mexico that Hap met his wife.

After spending six days together they parted ways but continued to email daily.

"A few months later I found myself living with Mandy in a one-bedroom apartment and I just knew it was right," he said.

The travelling lovebirds got married in New Zealand three months ago and are now working through Green Card issues in order to be reunited again in America.

"It's true when your parents tell you that things you do in your younger years will come back to haunt you," he says.

Now making a living out of his adventures, or in some cases his misadventures, Hap is a far cry from Mt Kilimanjaro - the spot he chose to celebrate his 30th birthday.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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