I’ve just returned home to cold, snowy Yorkshire after a fantastic three week trip to New Zealand. Julie and I met in 2005 when she joined NHS Direct as my boss and I’m lucky to have had her as a friend ever since. When she emigrated two years ago, I promised that I would be out to visit when they’d built their dream house in the country. Having followed Julie’s New Zealand adventures, like many of you, via her blog, it was great to finally see her again in person, meet Martin, Fortnum and Mason for the first time, and to stay in their beautiful new home.
It will come as no surprise that the Treanors made me feel so welcome, took me to some lovely places in Wellington and the surrounding area, including Martinborough (home to a number of small wineries – hic!) and Cape Palliser (where I was thrilled to see a fur seal colony). It was equally as nice just sitting on the veranda in the sunshine drinking tea, catching up on our news and playing with the bassets.
Fortnum and Mason are even more adorable in the flesh than in the photos on Julie’s blog. They love to lick your toes if you’re wearing sandals, jump up with their muddy paws when you’ve just put a clean pair of trousers on, and steal your knickers or socks when you’re trying to put them in the washing machine!
I thought it would even be stretching Julie and Martin’s generous hospitality if I stayed with them for the whole three weeks, so I visited Auckland, Queenstown (a particular favourite for me) and Christchurch. I also completed the 33.5 mile Milford Track, which is described as one of the greatest walks in the world, and it certainly lives up to its reputation. I did the ‘softies’ version of the trek, opting for the more luxurious lodges complete with beds, duvets, hot showers, flushing loos, and a 3 course dinner and breakfast cooked for you, rather than the more ‘hearty’ independent version where you stay in huts, with bare bunks, basic cooking equipment and only a cold water tap for washing.
It was hard saying goodbye to Julie after having such a wonderful time, but I hope to be back to see her and Martin in the not too distant future. I’ve certainly fallen in love with New Zealand and can see why they have decided to make it their home. And I promise, the 27 hour flight to get there is a breeze!