Ann Holt returned from New Zealand with postcards, photos, stories, and anything else she could to remember the month-long vacation.
“It was incredible,” she said. “I’ve never been to New York or Florida, but I’ve been to New Zealand.”
Visiting her oldest son, Andy, Ann, her husband, Terry, and younger son, William, toured most of the south island of the country, kayaking in the fjords of Doubtful Sound and Milford, stargazing the southern hemisphere, and even experiencing an earthquake for the first time.
“It was a blast,” Andy Holt said. “We’d been using Skype to keep in contact with each other, but it still isn’t quite the same. It was really good to see them again.”
While visiting a restaurant called Old Mountaineers on Mount Cook, Ann met owner Charlie Hobbs and his wife Mary, who had written a book dedicated to American citizens after the Sept. 11 attacks, called “Letters to New York and America from New Zealand with Love.”
“She found out that Andy and I are family and we’re from the United States,” she said. “She gave me this copy, so I figured I’ll donate this to the library.”
Andy, who received a degree in earth sciences from Emporia State University, moved to New Zealand to pursue a master’s degree in geology. He now also lives in the country where some of his favorite movies were filmed.
“It’s a land of wizards and hobbits down here, and I’m a bit of a fan of ‘Lord of the Rings,’ which is a good thing,” he said. “The sad thing is, with some of the conservation laws down here, they’re not allowed to leave anything after the fact.”
Andy said he has no immediate plans of returning home, since he just obtained New Zealand residence and hopes to begin school in March.
“They’ve got a lot of the same stuff back home, but the problem is it takes you quite a while to go anywhere to see those things, where here, you can drive 20 minutes and see five different things,” he said. “Drive a day and you’ll see 100 different things.”