Kei te whiti te rā (The sun is shining)

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Where has the time gone; as I write this February is already coming to a close! School is officially back for the start of a new year and summer is in full swing here in New Zealand.  December marked the start of our summer and the start of the Christmas and school holiday season.  For my family this time was packed full of excitement: the arrival of my husband’s gorgeous family from Helsinki, Finland, the wrap up of the end of a school year, the kids desperately trying to stay on Santa’s nice list and the start of many adventures in the sun. For our Scandinavian guests a Christmas in 30-degree heat meant trading their snow boots for flip flops but I didn’t hear any complaints!  Visiting beaches, dinners cooked outdoors on the BBQ, the mesmerizing sound of the cicadas chirping and the roads lined with Pohutukawa trees that display their brilliant red flowers. This was a true Kiwi Christmas in every sense. A traditional Kiwi Christmas consists of a lunch or dinner with family, the exchange of gifts and a time for lots of laughs. It can take a competitive turn when it comes to a match of back yard cricket or rugby, but it is all in good spirit under the heat of the sun. Our guests travelled part of the South Island for the second half of their visit, taking in what Queenstown, the Fiordland National Park and the West Coast have to offer. There is nothing better than witnessing the sparkle in someone’s eye as they describe what they have seen while travelling through that part of the country.  I am however a little biased as I am actually a South Islander.  Born and bred in the wine region of Marlborough, my childhood was full of experiences that I only appreciated how special they were, after I started traveling. My children spent their 6 weeks of holidays out and about on day trips with us, in and around the Wellington region.  Typically, a Kiwi summer holiday consists of packing your car to the brim and squeezing the family pet in the back and heading off camping or to a holiday home somewhere remote away from the hustle and bustle of day to day living.  These trips are about being together, spending time in or on the water, walking and exploring the native bush tracks and catching up with old and new friends.  My husband enjoys diving and spearfishing, so at this time of year we have the privilege of eating lots of fresh seafood.  It is a rewarding feeling to share his catch with friends, and also the perfect way to make friends with your neighbors, when you knock on their door with the offer of a large crayfish. However, the changing of the guard of seasons is coming. As we enter March the days will get shorter and cooler.  I am not ready to say goodbye to this gorgeous summer just yet though so you will need to wait a little longer before we send it to your side of the world. Ka huri (over to you, a Maori phrase to mark the end of writing)

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