Kindness of Strangers and Highschool Reunions

After being delayed in LA due to a broken plane (another plane backed into ours and busted it up!) for two days, we finally arrived in New Zealand late Friday night (a mere ½ hour after the END of the South Africa vs. Samoa game to which we had tickets – bummer!). The second we landed on the ground in Auckland, our luck seemed to drastically change. We were picked up at the airport by a friendly couchsurfer (www.couchsurfing.org) named Carolyn who put us up in her home for the night. Saturday morning we picked up our campervan, our home for the next three weeks, (http://www.spaceshipsrentals.co.nz) and hit the road heading south with no real plans.

Our Spaceship

First hurdle was tackling driving on the left hand side of the road and figuring out how to drive a car where everything is the mirror image of what we are used to in Canada. Luckily, Noah has driven on the left hand side of the road before and quickly adjusted to the change. We drove straight down highway 1 heading for Wellington (the location of the Canada vs. New Zealand game) and were immediately amazed at the stunning landscape. Every 15 minutes the land changes quite drastically and every change seems to present scenery more stunning than the last.

Part way through our day on the road we decided we should really try and sort out a place to crash for the night. I had been in contact with Nicole, who was a few years behind me in highschool prior to coming over, and she offered me a ton of advice on what to see and do.  A last minute Facebook message to her resulted in her generous offer of putting us up for the night. We arrived in Palmerston North and to her home and just after we cracked our first beer, an old highschool friend named Scott showed up on her doorstep as well. Scott is currently living in Australia and was over in New Zealand traveling with his brother, sister, father and a friend and just happened to be passing through Palmerston that night as well. I hadn’t seen Scott in ages so not only was it great to catch up (in NZ of all places…) but I think all three of us enjoyed having a little taste of home!

Nicole, Scott and Jacqui

After a hot breakfast (Nicole is such a lovely host – seriously, such an amazing girl! Thank you for everything!!) in Palmerston we were getting ready to finish up the final leg of the trip down to Wellington when Nicole’s roommate’s Mom (follow?), who happened to be there due to the very unfortunate circumstance of her daughter  having been in a motorcycle crash, asked us where we were staying in Wellington. Turned out that she actually lives in Wellington and very generously offered us her flat if we were willing to help her out by finishing up her laundry that was stuck in the machine after her speedy departure a few days prior, and taking out the trash. Thanks to the incredible generosity of a stranger, we have had a fantastic home base for the past couple of days while we have explored the spectacular city of Wellington (and cheered on Canada as we were clobbered by the All Blacks and enjoyed our second highschool reunion of our first week here when we met up with a friend of Noah’s from highschool named Greig and his wife Justine with whom we will be staying when we head back to Auckland this coming weekend).

The most striking thing we have noticed since our arrival here is how truly amazing the people are. Kiwis are incredibly friendly, kind and helpful. We have been offered hot showers, warm meals and places to stay by so many people. We have received an offer to visit a family on their sheep farm and a promise to teach us how to sheer a sheep. We have received another offer to bring us hunting and fishing (I have contact information so I can bring Lee back to spend time with these amazing people – they made me promise I would bring him over and hand him over to them for at least a week of hunting and fishing adventures). We have a date for pints with a couple in Christchurch when we travel through there later on this month. We have places to stay all around the north island. The Kiwis offer a wonderful example of how we as global citizens should treat one another.

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