I started my love affair with New Zealand by accident. A chance encounter with a prospective employer during a university placement meeting spiralled into a whirlwind move across the world. One year of adjustment working in a Wellington hotel and I was in love with the Land of the Long White Cloud. Dramatic landscapes, craft beers and the laid-back but adventurous Kiwi nature resonated with my own personality and I quickly planned a return trip. I would spend the next five years living in New Zealand and Australia, seizing any opportunity away from assisting my hotel guests to tour new regions and revisit those I had grown to love.
Since I was old enough to find them on a globe the isolated lands of the Pacific have fascinated me. They remain in beautiful isolation and while the landscapes of the Fijian Islands initially drew me in, their beauty was soon surpassed by the genuine warmth of its people. Twelve time zones away, Fijian's know that only Fiji time matters, so don't fight it and you'll leave feeling as re-energised as their Sevens rugby team.
I'll never forget when…
Completing the Routeburn Track, my first Great Walk in New Zealand, was an enlightening experience. The route takes you across the Southern Alps and the sense of peace and tranquillity when I arrived at Lake Mackenzie for our overnight stay is hard to describe. With no roads nearby or electricity to power distracting devices, it was an opportunity to tune in with nature as I dipped my weary toes in the freezing glacial lake. We woke early and set off to cross the Harris Saddle, the highest point on the hike, and were treated to the sight of a flock of mohua (yellowhead) swooping above our heads.