I was lucky enough to have some superb international travel last year. It's a perk of the job. But - WARNING: MASSIVE CLICHE APPROACHING - there's really no place like home.
We spent Christmas Day in Auckland with South Island family visiting us. We had lunch at Grand Harbour, a swim at Pt Chev Beach and bliss everywhere.
Later, we parked the family up at Opoutere for our summer break, pitching a borrowed tent alongside good friends, cooling off in the ocean and the estuary and generally opening the first beer at around midday.
The weather was on our side and the campground crowd all seemed to be good sorts, some more confirmed in the camping arts than others. Even the drive home, complete with crawling traffic jam where the Coromandel hills met the Hauraki Plains, was an exercise in beatific chill.
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It'd be hard to explain the appeal of the classic Kiwi summer holiday to folk from overseas - wiping melted icecream off the the kids' arms, spraying Deet on your ankles and swiping bugs off the chilly bin. But I wouldn't have swapped that trip for any other.
It is love, actually
Waiting in the arrival area at Auckland Airport one hot afternoon in December, I was again struck by what a special place it can be. Tearful reunions between families, friends and lovers. The joy on a grandfather's face when a toddler scrambles through the barrier for a first hug. A grinning lifted eyebrow between two old mates. A pat on the shoulder and off to the car.
When I come through the airport these days, I'm usually met by a cab driver. They're all good fellas; they help me with my bags and give me an update on what the weather's been doing. A bit of sports news if I'm lucky; politics if I'm not. But you can't beat the greeting of someone who truly loves you.
So, if you've got family or mates coming in from overseas - and if you can spare the time for the drive out to Mangere - make the effort to pick them up because it really is a magic moment.