Holiday Season in New Zealand

3 02 2013

The first part of my New Zealand trip was to be five days with my friend Paul Lepper and his family, in Palmerston North. This would be a great introduction to Kiwi life. For the first part of my trip, I would spend time with 100% Kiwis – people who live and work in the heart of the country. My flight left Portland, Oregon – to Vancouver, British Columbia. There, I’d catch an Air New Zealand flight to Auckland. Once there, I’d hop on a 60-minute domestic flight to Palmerston North. Total trip length? Two hours to Vancouver and 14 hours from there to Auckland, plus layovers. Total was about 22 hours.

Preparation for grilling!

Preparation for grilling!

I have known Paul and his wife Liz for seven years. Paul designs kayaks for Feelfree Kayaks. I was a USA Brand Manager for Feelfree Kayak USA, which distributed Feelfree in America. I’d worked with Paul on many occasions – in Bangkok, where they are manufactured, or at the Outdoor Retailer Trade Show in Salt Lake City, Utah. We’d trained sales reps. We’d worked on design tweaks. We’d discussed where the market is going. We’d talked manufacturing schedules. We’d shown boats to countless dealers. We’d tipped more than a few pints in Bangkok or Utah. But I had never been to New Zealand! Paul had told me many times I have to come and visit. The timing was right this time!

View from Paul's house

View from Paul’s house

I arrived December 28th – Liz met me at the airport – and I was surprised that it was maybe 10 minutes to their house! It was SO nice to see her!


Cows out back

Cows out back

They live on 40 acres, have 44 cows, two dogs, several sheep. The house is crescent shaped, partly to deflect wind. It’s a one-story house, so it kind of sprawls to account for the rooms. There is also a view of Mt Ruapehu. Once arrived I went to work tending the cows! This was a good thing for a jet lagged soul. I donned gum-shoes, and set about moving the cows from one paddock to another. The property also has a fabricating facility – and it is there that the kayak designs come to life. I did not take any pictures in there!

Liz and Anthia

Liz and Anthia

I met Paul’s daughter Anthia a and son Glen. Paul has done well for himself. Everyone is so nice and made me feel comfortable. Essentially I was made to feel part of the family. I had a room, and anything I needed don’t ask just grab, whether it be a beer or something from the refrigerator.


Something very down under!

The next day I joined Paul, Anthia and Liz on a journey to the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island. Hastings/Napier to see Paul’s dad. We would also visit a mountain with a terrific view, and a winery! Anthia lives in Melbourne, Australia and was home for the holidays…she had lots to say about Melbourne!

One thing about New Zealand is they are into sit on tops and there a lot of Feelfree Kayaks down there.



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