We’re very thankful to be back in New Zealand tonight. It’s been almost seven months since we left, and flying in, we couldn’t help but contrast our attitudes when we first arrived in New Zealand in February last year and began our slow tour of the Far North.

We have changed so much in one short year, and even more in the six months that we’ve been away. Our time of travels in Australia has been so rich in experiences and new friendships that we’ve discovered the good times just don’t have to end!

We will be using this time in New Zealand to revisit our dear friends in the Far North and hopefully see some new places too. As always, we’re reluctant to make plans. Instead, we state our desires and wait to see if they will come to fruition.

Things to pack, March 2012
Our intention is always to pack lightly, but we ended up with four pieces of checked-in luggage by the time everything was zipped up.

But first, we had to get from our Brisbane home base to our horse truck in Dargaville, New Zealand. It was a long day that started at 4 am.

Aslam drove us to the train station soon after 4.30 and helped us get our luggage to the platform. He was the first of many people who assisted us kindly on our journey.

Waiting at the train station, March 2012
We leave home and catch the train in the dark at 5 am. The girls have woken up happy and are excited to be on their way.

On the train, March 2012
Once we're on the train, we can relax. It goes all the way to the airport and we know we'll be on time.

Girls watching planes at the airport, March 2012
The girls find there's a lot to watch while we're waiting at the airport.

Lauren filling out forms, March 2012
As I fill out seven forms and my hand starts to cramp, I wish that we had given our children very short names — with no middle name. I'll pass that tip on to our children when they become parents.

David, Calista and Delaney on the plane, March 2012
It's a short, three-hour flight to New Zealand. By the time we settle in and have a meal, there's not enough time left to watch a whole movie.

Once we arrived in New Zealand, we called Pieter, who had previously taken us to the airport from Dargaville, and he collected us for our trip north. It was wonderful to see a familiar face at the airport, and we greeted Pieter like an old friend.

Driving with Pieter and Lauren with Elijah, March 2012
Using his personal vehicle instead of the big bus, Pieter picks us up from Auckland airport and delivers us to directly to our horse-truck in Dargaville. It's Pieter's day-off today, but he said he was happy to make the trip for us.

Our horse truck was in marvellous condition, and we loaded our luggage in and were able to drive away immediately. This was only possible because the kind people who looked after the truck for us made sure the batteries were charged and that the engine started. It was a treat for David to not have to think about the mechanics of the machine, and he really appreciated the way it started with the turn of the key.

We drove to an empty street in a new housing development for the night. After eating, our girls bounced back to life and stayed up late, playing inside and outside the truck. David and I laughed at their antics, happy that they were content with our circumstances and location.

Aisha playing in the truck, March 2012
Once we're in the truck and parked in a secluded location, the girls are too excited to go to sleep and play until very late.

Our kids are so resilient and yet so precious. We seek to expand our children’s horizons without overwhelming them, and the best way we can do this is by living in harmony with each other and sharing that peaceful love with everyone in the family.

We’re so happy to be back in New Zealand. It’s been so much fun in the past, and I can only imagine good things for our future!