Ditch the OE to find your own story on the great New Zealand road tip

AA Directions editor Kathryn Webster found some of her own story on an Otago-to-Canterbury road trip.  Photo / iStock
AA Directions editor Kathryn Webster found some of her own story on an Otago-to-Canterbury road trip. Photo / iStock

Plenty of Kiwis are hitting the road and travelling to the regions in search of their history.

Often they find something more than a stunning vista or a white sandy beach, according to the Automobile Association.

AA Directions editor Kathryn Webster said through anecdotal evidence it has become clear that a lot of New Zealanders are exploring the country for reasons other than a holiday.

"There's nothing like going to a place of personal connection. Sometimes you can stand where your ancestors once stood, and that's an experience we wanted to inspire New Zealanders to get for themselves, by travelling to find out more about their family origins," she said.

"A lot of people go overseas to track down their history, but there are many places in New Zealand where these stories have been well-preserved."

Recently Webster found some of her own story on an Otago-to-Canterbury road trip.

She said during her travels, which were inspired by clues she found in her family tree, she spoke to many Kiwis also travelling in search of family history.

"At one point, I stood looking up at an English oak planted in Christchurch's Riccarton Bush in 1867 by my great-great-grandfather, James Webster. He worked there as a forester in the 1860s and lived with his wife, Catherine, in the worker's cottage, which is where my great-grandfather was born.

"It's still there. I stepped into the cottage, looking for clues, marvelling. I kept thinking, this is where one strand of the family tie leads - back to this small house."

She also found museums rich with material, often providing clues about ancestors who had lived there, or who arrived in New Zealand at that port.

"And, in my experience, those museums have archivists who are really passionate about what they do and are happy to help with inquiries."

- NZ Herald

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