A love affair with New Zealand

In love
In love

I feel as if I have fallen madly in love with New Zealand. I am now besotted with the place, and for the first time since I left forty years ago, I yearn to go back. I want to buy a campervan and inch my way around the country so that I can soak up the beauty. Alas that may still be some years in the future, so for now I must say farewell to my lover.

Before we leave New Zealand here are a few of my favourite things:

Funniest moment: When we were queuing to leave the inter-island ferry an announcement was made “Would the person who left Continue reading

People who change your life

P1070873Our stay in New Zealand provided a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with a family who changed the direction of my life. I have altered their names in this story to protect their privacy, so let’s call this family the Smiths.

When I was 15 years old the Smiths moved to Wellington, they entered my life just as I was moving from childhood to adulthood. They were only there for a year but this family had a profound impact on the formation of my identity and the choices that I would make about education and work in the future.

I became close friends with Megan, the oldest of the four Smith girls and one Smith boy. This family was so different from my own. Dinner around our family table was mostly a quiet and sombre affair whereas dinner around their table was full of Continue reading

Wowed by the Volvo Ocean Race – Auckland

We were fortunate to visit Auckland during the same week that the Volvo Ocean Race was in town.

P1080147Whilst I’m not a seafaring lad, I couldn’t help getting caught up in the excitement that such an event brings to a city.

1.42 million people, or 31% of New Zealand’s population reside in Auckland, and although it’s not the country’s capital, it appears to be the hub of business, nightlife and sport. In addition to the Volvo Ocean Race, the ICC Cricket World Cup is currently being hosted here.

The Volvo Ocean Race (formerly the Whitbread Race) is a yacht race around the world, held every Continue reading

A Meeting Place & Departure Point – Cape Reinga

Cape Reinga is the northern most point on the North Island of New Zealand, and it’s off this coast where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean.

P1070985It’s one of those magical destinations that you see on a map, dream of getting to one day, but never quite make it. This has been true for Anne and I, but on this trip we did make it, and we are very glad we did.

Whilst we really enjoyed the vista of the rugged coast line, the lighthouse, and the meeting of the sea’s, it’s the Maori Legends which are worthy Continue reading

A Stone Store, a Timber House and a Waterfall

Before Auckland and Wellington became the country’s hub of economic activity, it was Kerikeri and the Bay of Island’s that were the centre of European activity in New Zealand. The region’s history dates back to 1769, when Captain James Cook, the first European to visit, named it the Bay of Islands.

P1080047Kerikeri is also known as the “Cradle of the Nation”, having the country’s oldest surviving wooden building – Kemp House, built in 1821, and the oldest surviving stone building – Stone Store, built in 1832. If you are ever in the region, the Kerikeri basin and its Mission Station is worth a visit – make sure you take the guided tour. The stories of hardship and resilience faced by Continue reading

Some of New Zealand’s Oldest

We spent four relaxing nights with friends David and Ann in their beautiful home in Kerikeri. Not only were they wonderful hosts, but Kerikeri is the perfect location from which to explore the history and scenery that the Bay of Islands and New Zealand’s Northland has to offer.

P1070927The Waitangi Treaty Grounds is only a 20 minute drive from Kerikeri, and is considered New Zealand’s premier historic site. It was there, in 1840, that the country’s founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi, was signed by the British Crown and Māori Chiefs. The Treaty established a British Governor of New Zealand, recognised Māori ownership of their lands and other properties, and gave the Māori the same rights as British subjects. Whilst at the Treaty Grounds, we enjoyed a performance by Continue reading

A Sinking Feeling on 90 Mile Beach

It’s a beautiful stretch of sand on the West coast of New Zealand’s North Island, running from Kaitaia toward Cape Reinga, along the Aupouri Peninsula.P1080036 The day we walked down on to the beach, it felt deserted, apart from one man and his dog, a fisherman’s 4wd, and one other vehicle parked close to the waters edge. Its occupants appeared to be enjoying watching the setting sun out across the gently breaking waves

90 Mile Beach is one of those spots that features in all the Northland tourist brochures. A number of Continue reading

Warming my heart by the fire of a long burning friendship

P1070897It is such a rich experience to stay in a friends’ home, rather than in the anonymous blandness of a hotel. Friends delight in introducing you to the best of their world, the places that mean the most to them and the people who give meaning to their day to day lives.

We have just spent four nights with our friends Suzanne and Darryl in Puketurua, a tiny place in the middle of the North Island, New Zealand. I met Suzanne and Darryl when I was about 18 years old, with my ex-husband. Our relationship was full of the laughter, passion and intensity of two young couples in love and at the threshold of their lives. Over the last forty years we have only seen them a handful of times, nonetheless they have embraced Steven and when we catch up it’s as if we saw them yesterday.

Here are four of the diamonds from their lives that they shared with us:

P1070808The Table on the Deck: We ate all meals in this beautiful rural vista, fresh country food accompanied by the sound of cows lowing. These were joyous meals full of laughter and great conversation. Despite some tough times this couple has maintained a great passion for life, and each other. Suzanne and Darryl reckon that lethargy and joylessness Continue reading

Amazed by the Avantidrome – Cambridge, New Zealand

A cycling velodrome wasn’t on the list of “must sees” in New Zealand, but when our friends from Puketurua suggested we take a drive to Cambridge and visit the newly built Avantidrome, I got a bit interested.

P1070827As a road cyclist (and MAMIL), I enjoy getting out on my bike, so any novel cycling experience doesn’t require a lot of persuasion to get me on board. I didn’t know what to expect before arriving at the Avantidrome, New Zealand’s home of the National Cycling Centre of Excellence, but I was very soon in awe!

I have often enjoyed Continue reading