Went to Edinburgh yesterday and booked flights to New Zealand for 2008. Start the long journey on Wednesday March 12th, but don't arrive in Christchurch until two days later [NZ time]. Will be tackling the Milford Track, before heading north to visit my family in Nelson and Auckland [probably stopping in Wellington en route to see friends]. Start the long journey back on Thursday April 3rd, and should be home by Saturday the 5th. I won't get into home much that's all going to cost - I don't know the details, for a start - but it won't be cheap. Paying for the trip will be a major project in the coming months, as will preparation for walking the Milford Track.
By the time I get to NZ, it'll have been nearly five years since I last saw my family. Last trip to the Land of the Long White Cloud was December 2003. Before that, it was December 1998. Before that, April 1996. Before that, December 1993. I emigrated from New Zealand to Britain in January 1990. That means I've been back four times in seventeen years. Think about it. What were you doing in January 1990? How much has your life changed since then?
I've been living away from NZ about half my life, but still consider it home. I still only have a New Zealand passport, which means I always get a stamp in it wherever I travel in the world [except NZ]. That comes in handy sometimes, when I get a flight from one EU country to another, as almost everyone on board has an EU passport, so I'll often get the All Passports queue to myself. When it comes to sport, I still support the All Blacks and the Silver Ferns. With the NZ cricket team, any victory's a good victory. With the All Blacks, any defeat is a knife to a heart. England football fans have suffered forty years of hurt waiting to win another World Cup - for All Black supporters, it's twenty years and counting.
Last time I went back downtown Auckland was all but unrecognisable, mostly due to a massive influx of money from China, Korea, Japan and other asian countries. Never seen so many dumpling and noodle bars in one place. House prices had gone mental since my last visit and the country seemed bouyant and optimistic. Wonder what it'll be like when I touch down next March? It's 263 days before I arrive. Wonder how my efforts to become a TV writer or script editor will have progressed by then?
Time will tell. It always does.