Invercargill > A Whirlwind Visit to my Home Town

“Like branches on a tree, our lives may grow in different directions yet our roots remain as one” – Anonymous

During a weekend in October 2015 I took a flying visit back to New Zealand — my first in almost three years — to visit my family, see my home town, and catch up with a couple of good friends.

I almost spent more time in transit than in my actual destination, but it was worth it just to reconnect with my roots, see how much Invercargill has (read: hasn’t) changed, and spend one last night in our family home, which is has now been sold.

I left Melbourne at 11.30pm on the Friday night, and managed a little bit of sleep on the plane before arriving in Christchurch bright and early on the Saturday morning. With four hours to spare before my flight to Invercargill was due to leave at 8.35am, I spent the time freshening up, watching the sun rise, and reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic , which I highly recommend everyone to read.

The time could not go fast enough!

I got a little bit more sleep on the short 1.5 hour flight to Invercargill, where my Mum and youngest sister Jess were waiting for me, big grins on their faces.

We were all thinking it: it has been far too long.

Invercargill > A Whirlwind Visit to my Home Town

Invercargill has not changed much since I last visited. Their attempts to beautify the inner city are pleasing, but there is still a long way to go.

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Shopping

I couldn’t resist popping in to The Seriously Good Chocolate Company, which was featured in a season of The Bachelor NZ television show. I walked out with a piece each of Raspberry Brownie and Salted Caramel slice, looking forward to devouring them later on.

But first, coffee.

McDonald’s — yes, Invercargill has one! — was the logical choice, as Jess was after a full-blown burger meal, while Mum and I were content to order something light from McCafe. Old habits die hard, as I found myself snacking on Jess’ fries and snatching a couple of her Mcnuggets. I had ordered a regular flat white, and my eyes nearly popped out of my head when this arrived at our table:

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It’s funny what you miss when you live in a new country. In New Zealand, The Warehouse is our one-stop-shop for home wares, entertainment, toys, gift ideas, gardening supplies, clothing and shoes … the list goes on. Australia doesn’t offer this chain store, and I’ve yet to find one that comes close. So I had to visit while I was home. I found a great deal on a DVD I had been wanting, and managed to organise a birthday present for my youngest niece, who will be five in a couple of weeks.

Reminiscing

Then it was off to one of my old schools. An Intermediate (for years 7 and 8 students) back in the day, the grounds have since been changed into a primary school, where my Mum works as a Teacher’s Aide. I showed her my Year 8 classroom, and she showed me how the old woodwork, home economics, and art rooms have all been converted into regular classrooms. A quick play on the playground and a few photos later, and we were off to our next destination.

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Wallacetown is only a 10-minute drive from Invercargill, but felt so much longer when I was a child. It is home to a glorious Christmas shop which my Mum frequents often. We each picked out an ornament for ourselves before Jess and I posed in front of an old playhouse that sat outside.

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I then drove us home.

Oh, how I miss driving!

Home

Invercargill really turned on the weather for us that weekend. It was meant to be pouring rain the whole time, but Saturday offered blue skies and sunshine; and although it was a bit chilly, it was warm enough to run amok outdoors.

Let’s not talk about Sunday though.

The rest of my time home was spent relaxing, playing games, enjoying a fish n chip dinner, watching tv shows, devouring a huge brunch prepared by Jess, and spending quality time with those I care about.

Although the quickest trip home I think I have ever taken; it was a fulfilling, happy, love-filled weekend.

There is nothing like friends and family to make you feel connected, rejuvenated, and whole.

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Author: Michelle

Michelle Harvey is a kiwi traveller, writer, photographer, list-maker, coffee drinker, and wanderer. Winter holidays are her favourite kind.

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