We are home in Wellington, New Zealand!

Where do I start?! The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of saying goodbye to our life in Santa Barbara, enjoying a last few days in Disneyland California, and then finally boarding an Air New Zealand flight for that final flight home!

It’s been weeks since I have written anything on this blog. I’ve contemplated letting it go altogether, but then I look back on some event or milestone in one of the children’s lives and am so grateful for writing down all the memories.

We have been back home for five days and everything feels ‘right’. There’s nothing better than returning from over a year of living overseas to feel that home really is home. I went for my first run along the south coast of Wellington today and felt so alive and invigorated by the dramatic scenery.

First run back in Welly!

The community, neighbours and friends we have returned to are as friendly and welcoming as they were when we left; from greeting us at the airport, to putting up a welcome sign on our front door and balloons on the mail box.

As we slowly return to our favourite ‘haunts’ we’ve been greeted with ‘You’re back! It’s so good to see you!’.

This is why we love Wellington.

The air is fresh and the colours bright. The sound of bird call is loud and plentiful. The land and vegetation, surrounding the beautiful coastal bays that we live near, comprise of rich hues of green. Our back garden is so alive and inviting – I can’t wait to get ‘stuck in’ and busy with planting seasonal herbs, fruits and vegetables.

The weather is ‘real’ (a real that only those who have spent any length of time in Wellington can truly comprehend!). We’ve already had a couple of ‘four seasons in a day’; where one hour the children are basking in sunshine in the hot tub and running barefoot on the grass, whilst the next they are donning rain coats and catching buckets of hail – as a southerly cold front sweeps in from Antarctica.

Catching hail

We’ve enjoyed opening up our home to friends on Sunday and not knowing if any would drop by, or when – so typically laid back and casually ‘Kiwi’. In the end we were delighted with lots of lovely surprise visits, starting with a friend returning the coffee machine we’d lent her in our absence (along with fresh coffee beans and lots of goodies from the wonderful Diamond Deli in Lyall Bay) and finishing with our neighbour, and her wonderful parents, coming around for dinner (they brought round an amazing home made curry and pots of mushy peas!).

Throughout the day, friends visited with home baked goodies, flowers and cards, one making an amazing effort by pushing a buggy, with child weighing it down, up a very steep hill! Meanwhile, the children all delighted in being reunited with friends and the sound of laughter and children playing has filled every corner of the house and garden.

From the moment we touched down in New Zealand, before we’d even left Auckland International airport, to walk over to the domestic terminal, we knew we were home. At customs we were greeted home with a smile. The airport was welcoming with its Maori carvings and written greetings on the carpet as we cleared customs.

Welcome carpet at Customs, Auckland International Airport

And then there was our first New Zealand coffee.. oh yes, the coffee!

Coffee in New Zealand!

Walking between the terminals, to the domestic airport, for our flight to Wellington, we rejoiced in seeing a Pohutukawa tree in bloom (a sign of a good summer to come!), cabbage trees and other native plants that we have missed so much. Two of our daughters rejoiced at seeing a ‘Wishbone’ cafe at the domestic terminal – they had missed the soup from there immensely and, despite the time being not far after breakfast, they tucked into a bowl with great satisfaction.

Then it was time for our final flight to Wellington. We flew into sunshine and a warm welcome from friends.

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It really feels good to be home, even a Skype call to my dear folks in the UK felt easier on a 12 hour time difference; than the ‘in-between’ 8 hours that we experienced living in California.

Thanks New Zealand and Wellington for making us feel so welcome x