New Zealand – Going Back in Time – Part One:
The last time I was in New Zealand, it was under very sad circumstances. My sister Marianna was dying of Breast Cancer and I had flown from Bahrain to support my Father and be with her as much as we could. It was a very difficult, stressful and surreal moment in time. Although it was a horrible time in history to see my sister fade away, it also became a very special and memorable experience.
I bonded with my sister at the final stages of her life like I had never done before. We talked a lot and I helped care for her and make her more comfortable. It was a blessing to be able to be there for her at the end stage of her life.
My Dad was very stressed and tired and anxious at this time, and I was also quite concerned for his health. I insisted on driving him everywhere and prepared meals for him and generally was as supportive as I could be. It was very difficult for him to see his first daughter wither away before our eyes and die.
I fly into Auckland on Easter weekend which seems fitting to me as it reminds me so fondly of another time in my past. Easter weekend in 2010, Marianna and I were both in Adelaide visiting my Dad. As strange as this sounds this was the first time we were all together as adults. We all got along so well and shared meals, drinks and good times and lots of laughs together.
There is a park around the corner from my Dads house called Thorndon Park, I love to go and exercise there whenever I am in town. This time was so special as I got to go walking there with my sister. We walked and talked and bonded like we had never before, as we really did not spend much time together as adults. There was a 15 year age gap between us and we also had lived in different countries for the past 10 years. I had visited her a few times and kept in touch by email and the occasional phone call, but generally we didn’t spend as much time together as I would have wished. This time back in Adelaide was really memorable, and I feel so fortunate we got the chance to come together one last time and enjoy ourselves all together. Marianna was suffering from her cancer at this time, although she was determined to be in Adelaide to visit; sadly we knew this would be her last trip. Only 8 short months later she passed away, at a very premature age of 47. A beautiful life cut short, and a very sad time for her children and for everyone who loved her dearly.
I wrote another post about my sister Marianna in more detail which I will be sure to post up again, as it is all part of my chapter in New Zealand. So look out for that one in coming weeks.
So my last time to New Zealand was some what of a mercy trip. My Dad and I stayed on the north shore at a sea side caravan park together. In this challenging and emotional situation, we still found our time together special. I had never spent a full three weeks with my Dad ever I realised. Not as an adult as we lived in different states and not as a child as I was in school and he was always working. At this time in 2010 I was living in Bahrain teaching at a girls school, which I had really been enjoying up to this point. I knew it was very important for me to be in Auckland at this time, so I flew out as quickly as I could to be with my Dad and be by my sisters side.
I remember fondly in the evenings we would sit outside our little caravan in the late afternoon sun, nibble on cheese and crackers as our appetites were meagre dealing with so much emotion. I would sip on a few gin and tonics and lemon and Dad would decompress with a red wine. We would chat and reminisce on fonder times in our past and just sit quietly in disbelief, we both couldn’t fathom that Marianna was dying at such a young age. Death really can be so unimaginable when it is happening. And it remains to be surreal many months to years afterwards. You keep expecting the person to reappear in your life again, but this hope is false. They will only continue to exist in your memories. Hence why I believe so strongly in creating good memories and having as many great experiences as you can with your loved ones.
I spent three weeks in New Zealand in total and most of this time was spent in Auckland with my Dad and sister. In the third week I recall my Step Mum came over from Adelaide to be with my Dad too. I decided to take a break as it had been such an emotional time. I went to visit my friend in Wellington who I had met in New York a few years previously.
Wellington is a funky bustling little town perched into a mountain side near the ocean. I remember having a relaxing time with my friend there, and it offered me the mental and emotional break that I so needed. We drove the scenic way via Rotorua to get back to Auckland. I remember stopping there to take a mud bath and checking out the natural thermal activity coming from the ground. It’s a very interesting but very smelly place!
My return to Auckland this time is with much brighter intentions and with a lighter and happier spirit. I am planning to visit my sisters children, who are adults now. I haven’t seen them since 2010 so I am expecting to see them so much more grown up. I will also catch up with a good friend of my Mums. My good friend Andi who I travelled with on two big road trips in Australia will be the first person I spend time with. We are planning to stay at Waiheke Island for Easter weekend, so that will be nice.
I won’t give too much more away, and make the rest of my adventures a surprise. I intend to take some amazing photographs as New Zealand is such a beautiful and scenic place. I will be traversing the North Island by car and will also visit the South Island.
I look forward to sharing my stories and insights on the land of the long white cloud with you next week. Remember while I am travelling I have decided to post every Monday and Friday as I have so much to share with you right now. Once I return to Perth and my normal routine I will reduce my blog posts to once a week, every Monday.
So until next time, all the best to you and say hi to your Mum for me.