I first stepped foot on New Zealand soil 6 years ago. A spur of the moment trip, with my 3 children and my new partner Jason (an ex Kiwi).
I loved the fresh crisp air - a fresh optimism hitting us as we walked out of the Christchurch airport. I felt like we were almost stepping back in time - a time when the word traffic jam was not part of our every day vocabulary - when people greeted you with a smile - when a high-rise was 5 storeys. My first drive into the city evoked such strong childhood memories of happier, carefree times.
Everywhere we went, people chatted and smiled - we were almost dumbfounded - this did not happen in Australia. People held open doors, gave way on roads, pulled over when they were driving too slow and waved on country roads.
Breath-taking is just too underwhelming a word to describe the scenery of the South Island - I cannot even think of an apt term to describe the beauty of this country. We were blessed with brilliant blue skies as we made our way to Queenstown. On your first trip, it is hard not to stop every few kilometres to take photos and simply breathe in the astounding beauty.
I certainly had expectations as I drove to Queenstown. We have all seen the photos, the ads campaigns and the travel hype surrounding Queenstown. We arrived around dusk, and to be honest, driving through Frankton to our hotel, I felt a little let down.
Next morning, we headed off to Deer Park Heights. As we meandered up the gravel road, Queenstown's beauty was laid out before our eyes. Nestled in the hills, surrounded by the magnificent Lake Wakatipu and snow capped mountains, this was better than any travel photo I had ever seen. This was the moment that I truly lost my heart to New Zealand.
A few years ago I read a book by an American who visited Auckland and within 2 days he was house hunting. He said he felt at home, like this was where he was meant to be. I know exactly how he feels.
I am now heading towards by 7th visit to New Zealand in 6 years. Each time is no different - I start to feel a deep sense of melancholy as my holiday nears its end. I do not want to go back to Australia, I never want to leave.
Unfortunately until I can convince 4 children that New Zealand is the best place in the world, Brisbane is where I lay my hat.
I know I will live in New Zealand one day, until then, I dream of living there, visit as often as I can, and continue to bore my friends and family with the "ramblings of a wannabe Kiwi".