ARRIVAL IN New Zealand!!

After two weeks in quarantine at a managed isolation facility and three COVID tests in Auckland, we were released into normal society on November 23. Our journey before, during, and after had many twists and turns, but we were able to execute our plans to travel to New Zealand. I am extremely fortunate to come here with my husband, a New Zealand citizen, to join our daughters, who are both New Zealand citizens.

In this country of 5 million residents, Jacinda Ardern, the current prime minister, is known here and throughout the world as having managed to keep New Zealand free from many of the world’s woes over COVID-19. There is still much caution and work to be done, but we are witnessing how these efforts have translated into big differences from those of other countries.

It didn’t take much adjustment, as our long-term memory guided us to the familiar past easily. Without masks or social distancing, we could conduct ourselves just as we had done pre-pandemic. We could go to shops, supermarkets, and restaurants. It didn’t seem as surreal as our short-term memory flashed a vague feeling of anxiety and wistfulness.

We left Auckland and drove three hours south to Tauranga, located in the Bay of Plenty. It is a large beach resort similar to Santa Cruz or Newport Beach on the California coast. As the weather was turning into summer, the balmy breezes, warm days and cool nights reminded us of our coastal weather. We took a short walk through Mt. Manganui with beautiful , crisp views of the bay.

Our Air Bnb was located a couple of blocks from the extensive Papamoa Beach. With over 10 mile stretch of pristine sand beach, residents of this small community of 20,000 have no problem with parking or access to it.

New Zealand is better at acknowledging its Maori culture and history. Substantial progress has been made in recent years in promoting the country’s first inhabitants. Maori names and language are being integrated into daily life. We encountered some students at Papamoa Beach practicing for an upcoming event.

Small-scale farming is ubiquitous throughout the country. We stopped at a strawberry patch and a lemon and avocado farm to enjoy the spring bounty. The header above is where daughter Julianne is living.

Most of this first week has been consumed with our arrival and joyful family gatherings, so my comments on New Zealand are brief. Please stay tuned for more to come over the next few months!

6 thoughts on “ARRIVAL IN New Zealand!!”

    1. Greetings, Tricia! So nice to hear from you. We were definitely planning to contact you near the end of our stay in NZ. After quarantine, we left Auckland immediately to join our daughters in Papamoa. We are still recovering from these big shifts. I will definitely contact you to arrange a time for us to meet with you, Gil, Ren and the rest of your family! Looking forward to it until then! Cheers!

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  1. So wonderful to hear that you are having a family reunion in NZ after so many months. Great to also hear of your almost restriction free life there, could almost make one envious, although we have nothing to complain about. Big hugs, Helena and Hans

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    1. We are ecstatic about being here and seeing our family again, after eight long months of hand-wringing. Life is insanely normal here but everyone is still vigilant with growing concerns throughout the rest of the world. It certainly has given us pause to reflect on what a civil society can and should do. Fortunately you have mountains and we have oceans to part by some stroke of fate. Life is indeed strange and incomprehensible. Stay in touch, and best to you and Hans!

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  2. How lucky for you & Gee Kin – and how wonderful! To be somewhere warm and somewhere you can walk about freely…
    …and all that in a country that got things as right (on Covid) as they could be, with calmness, efficiency, honesty, and good leadership.
    Enjoy your holiday and the festive season with your family!
    Sriram

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    1. It’s so nice to connect with you and friends throughout the world. Yes, we are so lucky to be here with our entire family, and your description has accurately described our experience here so far. Unfortunately we missed each other in London in early March just before the lockdown in the US and Britain. By March 9 when I left it was already getting tense. I remember thinking that the hand sanitizer suddenly placed in the opera rest room was strange. I barely made it back to SF when the kids had to rush to leave the following week for NZ on the last flight out of SFO!

      Eight months later we are here and still amazed at how we were able to navigate around so many obstacles. There will be many personal stories to tell for a long time! Hope you and your family are safe and healthy. We will get through this together and be able to see each other in the near future!

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