One family. Ten months. Living a dream. Cry of the Kiwi: A Family’s New Zealand Adventure chronicles my family’s ten-month exploration of New Zealand, during which my husband, two sons and I hiked hundreds of kilometres, conducted scientific research and delved into history and culture.  

 

All my life, I’ve dreamed of travelling to far-away countries to hike through landscapes inhabited by exotic animals and plants. In the year 2000, that dream first came true when my husband, two sons and I left our rural home in Nova Scotia, Canada, and spent ten months in New Zealand. Our sojourn on the far side of the world was my family’s first extended absence from Canada. As we made our final preparations to travel there, we were filled with excitement at the prospect of hiking on volcanoes and exploring tangled rainforests – maybe we’d even see a kiwi! 

Cry of the Kiwi Trilogy: A Family's New Zealand Adventure Takes Shape: On Abel Tasman Coast Track, South Island, New Zealand (© Vilis Nams)

On Abel Tasman Coast Track, South Island, New Zealand (© Vilis Nams)

We didn’t pack much to take with us: some clothes, a laptop computer, our binoculars, skates, sleeping bags and a box of school books. We arrived wide-eyed and unsure of what to expect. We departed inspired and broadened in ways I had never imagined. Our New Zealand adventure opened our eyes to the world and helped make us who we are.

My travel trilogy, Cry of the Kiwi: A Family’s New Zealand Adventure, began as observations I’d scribbled in small notebooks during my family’s travels and outdoor adventures and entries in our homeschooling journal. While living in New Zealand, I roughed out a few “NZ stories” intended for a private memoir. After our return to Canada, a persistent internal voice told me I should write more of our adventures and turn them into a book, which became a trilogy: Once a Land of Birds, This Dark Sheltering Forest, and Tang of the Tasman Sea.

Now the trilogy is nearing publication. My editor has made a second pass through the manuscripts and will return her comments to me any day – maybe today! I’ve roughed out cover designs and am in the process of choosing photographs to include in the books. Then I’ll draw maps, write glossaries, polish covers and make final changes to the manuscripts before my editor proofs them. The road to indie publication is a long one with steep learning curves, but it’s one that gives me full control over my project and a tremendous sense of accomplishment.

As our New Zealand adventure drew to a close in 2001, I realized that the heart of that country – sister nation to Canada in so many ways – lay as much in its people as in its riveting landscapes and intriguing native flora and fauna. Thank you, New Zealand, for the adventure of a lifetime. Perhaps my family’s story will inspire other families to go adventuring far from home. Kia ora.

The first book of Cry of the Kiwi: A Family’s New Zealand Adventure will be released April 2015. To read an excerpt from Once a Land of Birds, click here.

 

 

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