After six wonderful weeks together, my parents flew home to the UK on Tuesday evening. Their visit was particularly poignant, as it might be our last time together – or at least for a long time – in beautiful New Zealand. The man of the house started a new job mid-way through last year and, in July this year, his work is taking us away from Aotearoa to the shores of Santa Barbara, California. It’s nice to think we’ll still be living on the shores of the Pacific Ocean (though Wellington is actually located on the shores of the Cook Strait and Tasman Sea), but it’s going to be a very different kind of living to that which we’ve become accustomed to in our many years in New Zealand.
I still vividly remember touching down in Auckland, way back in February 1997, to catch a domestic transfer to Wellington, where the man of the house had already been living for six months. We were pretty fresh out of University – where we’d met in Southampton, England – full of enthusiasm to experience new places and adventures. That domestic flight, on a crystal clear day, over endless green landscape, surrounding by the bluest oceans, and centred by towering volcanoes topped with snow, will always stay imprinted on my mind. I never knew my heart could be captured by a country so quickly. In the six months that I waited to join the man of the house, I’d read works of fiction by New Zealand authors old and new, poured over the natural and cultural history, eyed up walks I wanted to accomplish and adventures I’d like to undertake. Little could I imagine then that I’d end up living in New Zealand for nearly half my life-time (to date) and be blessed with three New Zealand born daughters.
It seems fitting that the last two days of my folks stay encompassed New Zealand’s native beauty from the bush to the shore – all within reach of New Zealand’s capital city – Wellington.
They walked the City to Sea Walkway in the last week of their stay – an impressive 12 kilometre walk, taking in a mixture of city parks, bush and skyline pathways, from the heart of central Wellington, near Parliament, to the coast.
They enjoyed wonderful views out to Cook Strait and back to Wellington Harbour finishing on the south coast at Shorland Park in Island Bay (where I picked them up at the ‘local’ – enjoying a well deserved cool drink!).
Wellington is a spectacular city, hemmed in by hills, with ever surprising vistas and breathtaking scenery. I have never tired of its beauty – though the wind – some wild winters – has at times threatened to erode my adoration!
On our last Monday together we stopped by the Botanical Garden so young Alice could feed the ducks… (very cute little video, filmed by Granddad):
We admired the native wildlife in the sanctuary of Zealandia and its predator proof fence….
As well as stopping briefly at the beautiful Otari-Wilton’s Bush, located only 5 kilometres from downtown Wellington, a unique treasure; 5 hectares of botanic gardens created for the collection and preservation of New Zealand’s native plants nestled against the largest block of natural forest on the Wellington peninsula to survive initial settlement.
My Dad caught me in a moment with my youngest daughter at Otari-Wilton’s Bush – drawing a flower on her hand – and it’s special for me to have such a photo (as normally I’m behind the camera, ‘catching the magic’!).
I did manage to catch a little magic moment of him helping Alice across some stepping stones in the Botanical Garden (though of course Alice was of the impression that she was helping Granddad cross the stones – not the other way round!).
As well as a moment at Zealandia, when they were making friends with the rare Takahe (once thought to be extinct!)…
And on their very last day, before they flew home in the evening, we spent a memorable morning soaking up the sunshine together on Wellington’s loveliest little bay – ‘Scorching Bay’. Beautiful times together, wonderful memories, so grateful to them for coming so far to spend so long with us.
Love you Mum & Dad and hope the spring sunshine greets you soon in the UK! xxxxx