Dear New Zealand... (a story from The New Zealand Herald)

April 3, 2009

Sometimes it takes an outsider to remind us of what we have. Britons Brian Farmer and Marion Boshier were inspired to get married after spending four months travelling around New Zealand. While most of us worry about crime, the recession and the cost of living, Brian and Marion have seen an entirely different, more positive country ... We have been touring New Zealand since November 2008 and we've had the most wonderful time. We're from the UK and well into our 60s. We met just over a year ago and decided we wanted to take a long look at New Zealand while we were still fit enough. In the past four months we have travelled around both islands by bus, train and boat and we have been struck by the good nature, wit and helpfulness of drivers, guards and other passengers. The speed at which help arrives as soon as a map is produced is breathtaking; we misguidedly attempted to bicycle from Invercargill to Bluff and, when we were about 8km on our way, we saw a sign indicating another 22km to go. We stopped to check the map when a gentleman appeared (it seemed from nowhere) and advised us to try the Estuary Trail - which saved the day. In four months we have stayed in more than 25 motels, apartments, lodges, B&Bs and houses, all of which have been of extremely good quality and reasonably priced, and where we've been treated so well by our hosts. Our journey has been one of discovery of NZ, its people and way of life. We have been entranced by Maori culture, song and dance, and by the energy, determination and ingenuity of the early settlers that has been so well recorded in the many museums. We've experienced the haka and Maori folk music, the opera in W(h)anganui and Nelson, classical and Scottish pipe music in lots of places, The Greatest Storm in Oamaru, a Queen tribute in Invercargill and also the wide diversity of art of all kinds in galleries and whole cities like Napier.We've attended the earliest church in Paihia, and in Rotorua we were spellbound by the charismatic minister who gave a service in Maori and English. I have to mention the superb food, beer, wine and Dunedin whisky that we've sampled on our way - they were worth the visit alone - and I'm afraid it looks as if we'll be taking some of it home as excess baggage. Before we depart, we'd like to thank all the people who helped us on our way so kindly and cheerfully. Our time in NZ has made us realise how much we mean to each other and we've decided to marry on my (Brian's) birthday in October. Thank you, New Zealand.