Home Away From Home

New Zealand has been my favourite place (aside from Kenya) where I have been privileged enough to live. Simply put it is a beautiful and very magical country. If you haven’t been yet book a flight immediately and go and see what I am talking about, you wont be disappointed. This country has so much to offer. Every where you look there are mountains galore and bright blue waters a plenty, an untouched land and soul food to any weary traveler. Not to mention the endless amounts of adrenaline junkie activities if that is what you are in to and more than enough quiet serene places for those who want to escape the hustle and bustle of life, to de stress and recharge the batteries. There is something for everyone and I can guarantee that you too will feel the love that I feel. New Zealand does come with a warning, once you visit you will want to return time and time again, be prepared for this, some people may find this too much to cope with.

Since I left in 2009 I have been dying to get back there, and always secretly planning a holiday or trying to find an excuse to get myself back to my second home. And at the beginning of last year it came in the shape of a wedding invitation. I was sold and immediately got down to looking at flights and mentally packing my bags. With much umming and ahhing it turned out that at the time I couldn’t get myself there with sadness in my heart I had to decline the wedding invite. Not something I enjoyed but something I could not avoid, there was too much up in the air and it just wouldn’t work out. A few jam-packed months later I found myself in Australia and right next door. The plan was back on and the plane ticket was finally booked. For weeks and weeks all I could talk about was my trip, I think everyone was sick of hearing about it after a day or two but I didn’t care, I was excited and I wanted everyone to feel jealous! I think the feeling was more annoyed than jealous but it was enough for me. I was going to New Zealand and they were missing out big time! Even though Australia is just next door my ticket didn’t come cheap and time off from work was hard to come by, unfortunately this meant that I could only go for four days. A very short visit but I planned on making it as sweet as possible. Four days wasn’t long enough in hindsight but it did subside the cravings for the time being and it definitely reminded me why I love the place so much. From the people to the cider in the pub to the beautiful landscape and sunsets I was back in my happy place and enjoying every minute of being there. I was finally back home.

A few years ago Christchurch was hit with a massive earthquake that shattered the lives of many and destroyed life as they knew it. Driving through Christchurch you could still feel the effects and see the rubble of a place that was once a great city. New Zealanders have a way of working through the hard times, mainly by sticking together and just getting on with life but I couldn’t help but feel the devastation and sorrow. Somewhere that was once so familiar is completely unrecognizable and in massive disrepair. Only then did I appreciate the full extent of the damage and just how hard those time must have been. I personally knew people affected by the earthquake and did my best to support them from afar so to see the aftermath was a shock to my system and I sat in the back of the car in silence and awe at the devastation. This was a time for celebration and happiness I was after all attending a wedding but I couldn’t help but feel a sadness, not only for the city that has been reduced to temporary structures and scaffolding poles but for the people who now live with the loss. Everywhere I looked I could still see the people of Christchurch hard at work trying to rebuild their lives so many years on, a heartbreaking moment and a rude awakening of just how dangerous life in New Zealand can be. Unfortunately living along a fault line these natural disasters are expected and there will be many more to come, I have no doubt that no matter what happens the magic will still remain and New Zealand will still be the amazing place that I know and love.

Everyone in Christchurch was moving on and I decided I must too. I was here to celebrate the lives of two great friends coming together and celebrate we did. The wedding was a small affair but every minute was special, from the bride walking down the aisle to the speeches and first dance there was not a dry eye in the house, a true testament to how amazing and made for each other my two friends are. I was glad that I had made it, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world and even though it came close I knew that no matter what I would get myself there somehow. It is funny how things always work out in the end. After waving the couple off on their honeymoon and saying my goodbyes and see you laters I was back on a plane and heading over the water. I hate saying goodbye but this time I knew in my heart of hearts that this goodbye was definitely not for forever. I will always return to New Zealand. It is my home away from home and no matter how hard they try they can’t keep me away for too long! It is with love and sadness that I leave again but with a couple of days in Sydney before I head back to the Middle of nowhere the excitement was back on and I was looking forward to catching up with yet more familiar faces and soaking up the sights of another great city. See you again soon New Zealand, Hello Sydney… time for some real tourist sightseeing and more cider 🙂

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