Kia Ora are the first words you hear when you arrive in New Zealand. It means “be well/healthy” in Maori, a culture alive and well in these parts. It sounds so much nicer than our American greeting “Hi”. I knew it from the get go that this was going to be a great country and trip of a lifetime. Awesome landscapes. Lush forests. And more Sheep than peeps make New Zealand a beauteous outdoor place to unwind and recharge. We started on the North Island at gorgeous Kauri Cliffs named after the indigenous Kauri tree after crossing the date and time line and losing a day. The setting is exquisite on Matauri Bay not far from the “Bay of Islands” where we sailed one afternoon when not golfing, hiking, biking, or Possum Hunting! This nocturnal national pest and our guide Darcy turned out to be a highlight for us in Kauri. A team effort and we shot 4 of them right between the eyes. Off to the South Island to experience Queenstown and the world’s greatest wilderness regions specifically The Milford Track, known as the finest walk in the world. And indeed it was. We were group 11 on 11-11-11,a most auspicious day to begin our 5 day 33 1/2 mile hike through the heart of Fiordland National Park (World Heritage Site) and a 4,864 square mile preserve along the coast bordering the Tasman Sea. The Waterfalls were everywhere, streaming down the sheer granite canyons and peaks. But the most impressive and exhilarating was the spray we got from Sutherland Falls, the world’s 5th highest. I can still feel the mist. The water was freezing. We walked in the footsteps of history as the “freedom walkers” did before us in 1964 and Mr Mackinnon even before them in 1888. It’s a magnificent well run guided walk with some parts reminding me of the lushness of Washington State. The huts we stayed were perfectly placed in nature and the guides had a real dry Kiwi sense of humor that kept us all belly laughing. Bird watching? hula hooping? Heard we got lucky with the sunny weather in that it rains in the forest at least 200 days a year. As tranquil as the Milford Sound was, it’s back to Queenstown for some adrenaline. Helicopters are the preferred method of transport in NZ. Not a moment to soon for the exhilarating shotover jet through the narrowest of canyons doing 360 degree spins. Scary shit. The boys chose golf…ho hum. Next up, Worldclass fishing and the boys weren’t going to miss that. Heli up and down looking for rivers to snag the trout. Luckily the guide knew how to hook em. The food, the wine, and the people in NZ are authentic and genuine. Auckland is worth a stop over for a couple days, especially to ferry over to Waiheke Island to enjoy brunch at the stunning wineries. Put the Wild Kiwi country on your wish list and and make it happen. We will live on these memories for a long time and delight in keeping the Maori traditions alive by wearing our Maori jade greenstone called Punamu. Cheers Mates!