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February 24, 2020
Hey Old Friends (Gail)

Gail writes…

Nineteen years ago when we took our family on a one-year trip around the world, we scheduled a farm stay at Te Hau Station outside of Gisborne on the eastern coast of New Zealand. I chose this place for two reasons: the family had sons the same age as our boys, and the ad made it look amazingly beautiful. We were not disappointed. The boys got along great, the property and accommodations were stunning. But the best was the fact the Chris and Jen Meban were genuinely wonderful people. We immediately felt like part of the family. We left a bit of our hearts there with them when we left.

July 31, 2001

Little did I know that we would remain friends with Chris and Jen for over 20 years. We had promised that someday we would get back together, either in California or again in New Zealand. When I saw that our world cruise would take us back to New Zealand, it was clear to me that this was an opportunity we had to make happen.

In January we got the approval from Regent for them to come aboard in Tauranga, and we started to count the days. We had been able to stay in touch via Facebook, but we were so looking forward to seeing them again.

The morning was spent at Hobbiton. But part of my mind was on the afternoon. I had to make sure we connected smoothly. Since I would be off the ship’s Wi-Fi, I took our fancy new Skyroam portable hot spot. With that, I was able to send messages to them updating our timing for return. We knew they were very near by the time we were a few minutes from the ship.

After we boarded, Russell went up to the cabin while I logged on to the ship’s Wi-Fi. And *BAM* the message “we are here” popped up. I ran up to the cabin, got Russell and we walked off to greet our visitors. How wonderful is it to be thousands of miles from home and see familiar faces! We all declared that we had not changed a bit over the past 20 years… good friends are like that. It was like no time had passed.


Once on board, we did a tour then had lunch. Chris followed my advice to have one of the burgers. He declared it one of the best he has ever had.

A quick look at our cabin, then we were ready to go for a hike. Chris had recommended the one-hour base track around Mauao, a mountain-topped peninsula near the ship port.


We hiked the “base track” around Mauao

The “Pilot Bay” side (where our ship was docked) is a beautiful, savage coast

The “Mount Maunganui” side (where our hike ended) is one of New Zealand’s best surfing beaches

The scenery was stunning, and truthfully more of a walk than a hike. We were able to catch up on the past 20 years, their children, selling Te Hau Station (a five-generation holding until sold a few years back), starting a new import business and a successful real estate career. They were interested in our Viking lecture future, our sons and of course this trip.

The time went by much too quickly, and soon it was time to part ways once again. They left us at a stunning beach with enough seashells to keep me busy until we had to go back aboard.

A good thing about this goodbye is that we know it will not be 20 years before we see them again.

Next year we will be in the area three times with Viking cruises. We will see each other again.

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