Ode to Aotearoa

New Zealand has been good to us. It’s been a five-year vacation from the grime and absurd pace of New York City.

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I had to stop saying “That’s so pretty!” after the first few months because it was a constant refrain.

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Tramping in the beautiful South Island.

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Wide skies and endless landscapes.

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Clouds that cling–even to your feet as you walk to work in the morning.
Aotearoa is said to be Māori for Land of the Long White Cloud.

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Tramping and horseback rides on the beach.

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Rainbows so commonplace we barely paused unless it was a triple rainbow.

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Cricket in the park.

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Finding evidence of a Māori pa on a volcanic cone in Auckland.

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Tree climbing and wine tasting on Waiheke Island.

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Local traditions for the holiday season like the Pavlova.

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Or Summertime Santa and his Surfing Elves.

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Admiring local wildlife at Kelly Tarlton’s.

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Hanging at the beach on a chilly (yeah, not really) winter’s day.

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The occasional harmless yet alarming weta finding their way indoors.

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So preeeeetty.

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The uniquely English-born love for quince paste.

I got this one in my CSA box and was confused and delighted.

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Soaking in hot pools in Rotorua.

Realizing that Hawai’i and New Zealand are culturally like cousins.

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Exploring the antipodean version of Lake Tahoe, Lake Taupo–the second largest freshwater lake in Oceania.

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Delighting in the Asian influence on downtown Auckland at the annual Lantern Festival.

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The friendly locals.

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To everyone in Aotearoa who made us feel welcome. Thank you!
We lived in a place where the rare sound of a siren makes everyone stop and take notice and worry.

It was a privilege.
And if you’re thinking of vacationing here, the flights are long but they’re worth it!

I’ll return to New Zealand. I didn’t memorize the national anthem in both languages to never sing it again.

Oh, and sure, why not? Home of the Rugby World Cup champions, The All Blacks.
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