I was very excited as we approached New Zealand.

It was not only that it was high on the list of countries I wanted to visit, but I would be seeing two friends I had last seen four years previously. They returned to New Zealand at the same time as I left for Norway. When we parted they joked, “If you ever come to New Zealand let us know and we’ll put the kettle on!” As soon as I knew that I had managed to get this job I wrote and told them to get the kettle ready!

Cliff was a gastro-enterologist who came over to work with us on the research unit and was one of the nicest doctors I worked with. He was always kind and considerate to both staff and patients. I became friendly with both him and his wife and was really looking forward to seeing them again.

Wherever we had docked on the journey across the Pacific we had always been the biggest ship in the harbour……until we reached Auckland and docked alongside Canberra! This time we looked like the harbour ferry!

New Zealand was everything I had hoped for. Cliff and his wife met us from the ship whenever we were off duty and wined and dined us and took us around all the well known sights as well as some of the lesser visited places. We stood in the crater of an extinct volcano, gazed sadly at the monument to the Maoris who had died in the measles epidemic brought in by the white settlers and visited a real Maori village, rather than the one most tourists were taken to.

We spent three days in Auckland and all too soon it was time to make our farewells again. It was 18 years before we met again, when they visited us in Kent.

The next port was Wellington, the capital, where I was given a ticket for one of the tours. We went to a sheep farm, where the Young Farmers entertained us with a display of sheep shearing and sheep dog trials and then followed this with a splendid feast. I don’t remember all the food but I do remember the huge bowls of strawberries served with thick yellow cream. (This was before the days of supermarkets selling strawberries all the year round!)

The final port of call was Lyttelton on the South Island the harbour is the crater of an extinct volcano. From there we went to Christchurch, which stands at the southern end of the Canterbury Plains with the snow covered New Zealand Alps in the distance.

This is a beautiful country with friendly people and if I won the lottery is one I would love to visit again and explore more fully.