While we were preparing to travel to New Zealand, a friend said, “New Zealand is a post card at every turn.” She was correct. The country is beautiful with mountains, pastures, bays, volcanoes, and coastal areas. We spent a month on the north island about three hours’ drive north of Auckland.
The only thing better than the natural beauty was the friendliness of the people. Everyone we met in New Zealand was kind, happy, helpful, curious about our background, and welcoming. We house-sat for a wonderful family, we joined the congregation at Kerikeri Baptist Church for worship, and we enjoyed meeting friendly people throughout our days in New Zealand.
There were many highlights of our time, but a few include:
Beautiful walks to the beach at Opito Bay
Daily walks in the fields surrounding our home
Great hikes to Rainbow Falls
Walking along 90 Mile Beach
Seeing Tane Mahuta (“Lord of the Forest” in the Maori language), the oldest Kauri tree in New Zealand (believed to be about 2,500 years old)
Some people have led protests about their treatment at Waitangi Day, and while these protests overwhelmingly have been peaceful, some people fear that Waitangi Day is marked by confrontation or even violence. Thankfully, our hosts dispelled this notion, and we enjoyed two excellent days at the 175th Waitangi Day festivities. On the first day, we enjoyed a ceremony led by the Royal Navy. We even sat four rows behind New Zealand’s Prime Minister at this event. And on the second day, performers and food stalls created a festive atmosphere.
If you have an opportunity to visit New Zealand, take it. And, if you can be present for Waitangi Day, go! Share in the spirit of this treaty that seeks to guide positive relations between different peoples.