Leaving the U.S.’s Pacific North West behind I headed off to New Zealand to spend Christmas with my friends Philly and Kerry-anne. This time last year the three of us were on a hectic tour of the North Island, but due to the fact that Kerry-anne is hugely pregnant (I believe the more polite term would be “blooming”) we had a far more sedate itinerary which included a whole lot of nothing, and suited me just fine.

It was a long a torturous flight from L.A to Auckland. My coach class seat was broken and uncomfortable and the woman in the seat ahead of me kept insisting on reclining her seat fully while I tried to eat the unappetizing in-flight meal. She also insisted on pushing her hand luggage and shoes under her seat into the miniscule area where I would be able to stretch my legs if I were five feet tall. In the end I got so fed up with her I took her shoes and hid them a little further down the plane which made for some amusement as we neared the end of the twelve hour flight.

I had a short layover in Auckland before catching my flight down to Wellington. Enough time to slowly stroll from one terminal to the next enjoying the warmth of the summer sun on my face. For an international airport noticing the place felt more like a small airfield as I followed a blue and white painted line along the pathway past grassed areas, a car park, and the main building for ASS, the Airport Security Service.

In Wellington I was met by Philly and Kerry-anne and as we put my luggage in the car and drove to the house it felt like I’d never been away.

Phil and Kerry-anne McGrathTheir was no itinerary for this trip, and no rush to get from one place to the next. When we moved anywhere we moved at a pace slow enough to accommodate Kerry-anne who rather comically waddled like a migrating penguin as she carried their soon to be born first child.

Due on January 14th, baby McGrath is currently measuring three weeks ahead of schedule and Kerry-anne is experiencing ‘Braxton Hicks contractions’ which I’ve now learned is a medical term for false labour.

Not being a parent myself I didn’t really need to hear a lot of the words Phil and Kerry-anne were using in relation to the pregnancy. As much as I love Kerry-anne I don’t need really need to learn anything about her uterus or any of the other bodily functions that become common place for pregnant people to refer to. I would sooner that babies were delivered by UPS and that pregnancy was more like parcel tracking than a nine month scene from the movie Alien.

We spent Christmas with friends Andy and Kate and sat around all afternoon just eating and chatting. On a rainy day we went to the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, and Philly and I went to see the movie Avatar in 3D. All in all we chilled out and enjoyed the calm before Philly & Kerry-anne start their 25-life sentence as their little bundle of joy enters the world.

I also got to spend some time with my friend Yolande from Malaysia who has recently moved to Wellington. We walked around the CBD (Central Business District) and ate good Asian food at a scary little place as we caught up.

I would write more if there was more to write. But in truth my short trip to New Zealand was wonderfully uneventful and fantastically relaxing. Philly and Kerry-anne worried that I would be bored, but quite the opposite was true. It was just great to kick back and spend some good chill-out time with them both knowing that the next time I see them things will be very different indeed.

So with Christmas behind me I boarded a plane to Australia where I will be seeing the New Year in with thousands of other revelers in Sydney where we’ll watch fireworks light up the iconic harbour bridge. I can’t wait!

Have a happy and safe new year everyone!