Little New Zealand is the best country in the world and a wee corner of it, Christchurch, is a little battered and bruised after an earthquake shook much of the central city apart.
Christchurch will be rebuilt. What we need most is for tourists to realise that New Zealand is still open for business! So we are one of a worldwide team asking you to come and visit. We need you, we are laying down a fern mat of welcome and will greet you with a nation of smiles.
I’m a sixth generation Southlander so I’m fiercely proud of my country and love with every breath, the Mainland – which is what us folks down south called the South Island – Te Waipounamu – the land of Greenstone waters that are found in the rich verdant ribbons of waterways that braid our Southern land.
So I have decided to invite you to some of my favourite places in the South Island. Land of my birth, my ancestors and my heart.
First, to the very deepest of the South and the last of the great ocean and wildlife experiences in the world. A place that can make you feel like you are the only one left in the world. Stewart Island is an island of extremes – tall majestic old man Rimu trees shading black water rivers that lead to deep blue bays teeming with one of the great seafood delicacies - Stewart Island Blue Cod.
It is also home to one of the most intelligent of the marine mega fauna, Hooker's Sea lions. Baleful creatures who guard their sandy domains with a passion - yet are happy to play with you as you dive along the rocky shores.
Stewart Island's Maori moniker is Rakiura – the land of the glowing skies. And glow it does, a fierce fire of icy light that rises in the dawn and folds into the horizon in the long twilights.
You can take a fishing trip on a local boat skippered by a local crusty old sea dog who will have brine on his breath and a spin a yarn from the westerly wind.
Try kayaking, swimming, tramping or you just can hop off the Bluff – Stewart Island ferry or Stewart Island plane and mix and mingle with the 400 locals who call Rakiura home. Chill, eat, drink talk, learn, sleep a deep and contended sleep.
You can hire a water taxi to Ulva island, which is a pristine haven for noisy birds and is such a peaceful, tranquil place it will gently blow away all the city dust left clinging to any world weary traveller.
So fly on in to Christchurch, take a trip to the South, stop at Rakiura and fall in love with life again.