We’ve been to New Zealand three times. The first time was for one of my “milestone” birthdays, which happens in the winter. When NosyNeighbour suggested it as a destination I was a bit disappointed because I would be giving up snow for sun. I know, most people would relish that thought, but not me. As soon as we arrived, I fell in love with it: the country, the people, the adventures.

That first trip we experienced an earthquake while we were in Wellington. We were staying in a hotel/motel that wasn’t four stars. Our room wasn’t very wide, just the width of a single bed, table and a twin bed. We were each lying on a bed, watching TV. Back then Kiwis were ahead of us in their Coronation Street viewing. All of a sudden there was a rumble and the empty wire coat hangers in the closet (which didn’t have a door) start shaking. NosyNeighbour looks over at me and says, “You pig, I felt that!”

I replied, “That wasn’t me. And if I had farted you wouldn’t be able to feel vibrations from it on a different bed!” I thought it was an earthquake, but he thought maybe they were doing construction work on the street outside. The next morning the newspaper headlines screamed “Earthquake hits Wellington”. That was the first time I’d felt an earthquake. The next time would be the one to hit Ottawa in the summer of 2010.

We visited New Zealand twice again after that, hiking active volcanoes and coastal pathways. During our last visit, unbeknown to us, a tsunami warning was issued for the coast where we were hiking. Nothing materialized, but it does make you think about knowing your surroundings and having respect for nature.

When the first earthquake hit Christchurch, it felt like a friend’s city had been damaged. I’d found NosyNeighbour real ale at the Twisted Hop, and I checked their web site regularly to see what damage had been done and when they would reopen.

I just can’t believe they’re going through it again, and so close to Christmas. My heart goes out to them. Hopefully, the shaking will stop soon and life will go on.