Rhys Darby in Big in Japan, coming to TVNZ tonight. (Photo: TVNZ)

From your couch to the world in five shows

With Rhys Darby returning to our small screens with a travel series documenting his wild travels around Japan, Tara Ward rounds up some more TVNZ shows that will take you from your armchair to locales far and wide. 

Rhys Darby is world famous for bringing walk socks to New York on Flight of the Conchords and for driving a ute through the New Zealand bush in Hunt for the Wilderpeople, but now he’s taking us on a new journey. Rhys Darby: Big in Japan is a new travel series starting this week on TVNZ 1 which follows the actor, comedian and expert robot-noise maker as he immerses himself in the history and culture of Japan.  

“I’m here to learn, experience and eat everything I can,” Darby says in the show’s opening minutes, as he lands in Japan via a hot air balloon because, well, why not? Having made a career out of playing weird and wonderful characters, Darby hopes that exploring the more unusual side of Japan will teach him how to become a better person and comedian. He’ll give anything a whirl: from hugging giant mascots and sleeping in a robot hotel, to sumo wrestling and taking a restorative drip in freezing mountain water.

The more unlikely the experience, the better, and Darby is keen to enjoy every opportunity that Japan offers. Not everyone gets to dress up as their own mascot when they travel, but Rhys Darby does, and you need to see it to believe it.

It might seem strange to recommend travel shows when we can’t leave the country, but there’s no better time to dip into the world of travel TV. You can take as many trips around the world as you like without the hassle of putting on pants or heaving yourself up off the couch. So here’s a tasty selection of travel shows that will take you to new and unexpected places without you ever having to leave your house.

The cast of The Amazing Race: Australia. (Photo: Supplied)

The Amazing Race Australia

The Amazing Race is the first, last and everything in reality travel shows, and the Australian version is a typically fun and furious trip around the globe. You’ll find 22 brave Australians throwing caution to the wind in search of $250,000, following a series of cryptic clues that lead them through foreign cities and unfamiliar languages in a pressure-filled race to the finish line. The teams also have lovely matching outfits, the power of which should not be underestimated.

Travel Man

People who think travel shows are dull have never watched Richard Ayoade drink beer in a Helsinki Burger King sauna with Paul Rudd. Each Travel Man episode sees British comedian Ayoade take a different celebrity pal to explore an overseas city for 48 hours with the intention of skipping all the boring tourist bits. Stars like John Hamm, Rebel Wilson, Lena Dunham and Chris O’Dowd join the deadpan Ayoade as they’re thrashed with sticks in Moscow or fed brain in Marrakesh. Travel Man won’t give you any useful travel information, but you’ll still have the trip of a lifetime.    

The cast of Race Across The World. (Photo: Supplied)

Race Across The World

If you love The Amazing Race, you’ll go bonkers for Race Across the World. Yes, there’s a race, and yes, it’s across the world, but teams have to travel to a specific destination thousands of kilometres away without taking a single flight. No aeroplanes or smartphones are allowed, but contestants can work to earn money along the way. The more funds they have, the quicker and more comfortable their journey will be, but do they risk giving up travel time to work? Fabulous scenery, wacky characters, departing now.

Travel Guides

This fly-on-the-wall travel series follows ordinary Australians as they become travel critics, rating and reviewing their holiday experiences around the globe. It’s like TripAdvisor for television, and one person’s idea of paradise is another’s nightmare. These opinionated travellers are thrown out of their comfort zone in search of brutally honest reviews of the world’s tourist attractions, and chaos ensues.

The Chase host Bradley Walsh and his son on Breaking Dad. (Photo: Supplied)

Bradley Walsh and Son: Breaking Dad

The title’s an obvious pun on Breaking Bad, but Bradley Walsh did indeed break during the filming of this father-son road trip across America. Bradley and Barney Walsh travel over 2,000 miles from Los Angeles to New Orleans, taking part in a variety of crazy challenges along the way. It’s a feelgood watch, even though Bradley breaks his back in three places after falling off a bull. Chuck in some shark diving and centrifuge training (it’s a thing, honestly), and Breaking Dad makes a one-question shootout on The Chase look like child’s play.

You can watch Rhys Darby: Big in Japan at 8.45pm on TVNZ 1 tonight (June 4).

This content was created in paid partnership with TVNZ. Learn more about our partnerships here.


Go to TVNZ OnDemand, where you’ll find a ton of other great shows (…way beyond just what’s played on TV)



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