This summer Claire Eeles will be swapping Canada's snow and sub-zero temperatures for New Zealand's sun, surf and wine.

She was born and bred in Auckland, but is now the president of Moulding and Millwork, North America's largest door and moulding manufacturing and distribution company.

It has 30 distribution centres across the United States and Canada, and a team of more than 1200 people.

After completing degrees at Victoria and Massey universities she cut her teeth in the corporate world as the human resources leader for Mobil Oil. She has since worked in senior roles for Fletcher Building (formerly Fletcher Challenge), The Warehouse Group and American furniture chain Restoration Hardware.

She then swapped furniture for trade and economic development, spending two years with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise as Consul-General in Vancouver, Canada, where she worked to support New Zealand companies doing business in Canada, Western America and Mexico.


She was a member of the World Class New Zealand network, a collection of New Zealand residents and expatriates committed to aiding the country's international competitiveness and economic growth.

What do you most look forward to about coming home for summer?

Spending time with my family and catching up with my crazy cousins, going for long summer lunches with friends and checking out all the amazing new restaurants and shops in Auckland and Wellington. Central Otago pinot noir, crisp Pacific Rose apples, crackling, New Zealand classics on the radio ... and kicking back to relax with no traffic jams, airline security lines, daily time change differences and business meetings.

Where will you spend your time in New Zealand this summer?

We are never in one spot when we visit over the holidays - the result of probably too-ambitious plans to catch up with as many people as we can over a two-week period. So, we will spend Christmas with my family in Auckland, then head up to Red Beach for my niece's birthday and on to Snells Beach for New Year's Eve. Since I was 5 we have always spent hot New Year's days with family and friends in a farmer's field transformed overnight into the"world renowned" Waipu Highland Games. This year, we will spend time visiting friends in Wellington and hopefully spending a day or two at our bach on Waiheke Island.

What books will you be reading?

I have a whole bunch of movies and articles on my iPad to catch up on during the holidays. A good friend recommended The Happiness Project; I have just downloaded Brand Real: How Smart Companies Live Their Brand Promise and ... to read on my 14-hour planned trip from Vancouver. But I will probably end up watching great New Zealand movies on the plane's inflight entertainment system.

Describe December in Vancouver?

It's winter right now, so the temperature outside is anything from -10C to 5C. It is zero degrees at the moment, so everyone is wrapped up in beautiful scarves, woollen hats, boots and puffy jackets. We quite often have a beautiful white Christmas in Downtown Vancouver and certainly you can drive an hour north from the city to enjoy the incredible winter wonderland of Whistler Village and its fantastic restaurants and hotels, Christmas lights and ski chalets. Or drive to Vancouver's North Shore (20 minutes from Downtown Vancouver) for some night skiing on Grouse Mountain.

What dish will you be cooking on the barbecue this summer?

My dad is our official "head barbecue chef" over summer. He's completely self-trained and can barbecue anything while multi-tasking - drinking beer and telling stories. His specialties are roast pork with crackling, New Zealand lamb chops, beer marinated steak, and crispy, warm leftover Christmas pudding on Boxing Day. Cooking is not one of my strong points, so my contributions are usually salads from my favorite delis, like Zarbo in Newmarket and Dida's Food Store in Herne Bay.