Sixteen years ago, I was living near Tel Aviv, Israel. I had a great life but I felt something was missing. I had a good job with a marketing company and wonderful friends. I was 32 at the time. Friends were going off to Auckland to live. I knew a bit about Australia but not much about New Zealand. I’d travelled a lot in my life – to Africa, Asia and Europe. I was happy but I just felt something needed to change and I wasn’t sure what it was.
So I decided to pack up my life and follow my friends to visit this place called Auckland. I arrived in the depths of winter in 2002 on a three-month visa. My Israeli friends were busy with their young children so I decided to head north to Cape Reinga to explore the Far North.
One night, I was driving and I got as far as Kaipara Harbour when I had to stop as it was dark. I felt it was too late to be driving on my own. I stopped in two towns but there wasn’t a single bed. So I pulled into Matakohe – a town of 400 people, which has the Kauri Museum. I found a bed and breakfast with a room. It was pretty empty but the rooms were nice and clean. I went outside for a cigarette and the next thing these six-year-old twins came and started chatting to me. They told me it was their grandparents’ hotel and they were there with their father. My English was rusty but their dad, Nick, came out. They asked me to sit with them for dinner. Afterwards, Nick and I sat around and had a few glasses of wine and we sat up into the night chatting.
It was a magical couple of days. Nick took me bush walking the next day through the kauri forest. He turned up with a pair of gumboots for me. He told me about a rare kauri snail, and the next thing one walked between us. A man I didn’t know took me into the bush and we walked for the whole day. It was just truly amazing. We had a connection.
I paid for another night at the B&B, and I dined with Nick and his family again. I was thinking all the time, ‘I cannot be with the first man I meet in the first spot.’ I had been promising myself I’d have time to myself.
I packed up the next day to go north. I thought I’d be away for a fortnight but I couldn’t stay away. I was back in Matakohe four days later. That night, when the kids were in bed, Nick turned to me in front of the fire and asked me to marry him. I said, ‘Okay.’ I just knew it was right.
Four months later, we got married in the bush, with just a few friends and family there. The twins are now 22. I love it here; I love the rural lifestyle and the people. What I had was truly love at first sight, but also it was being in the right place at the right time. I had a gut feeling about needing to find what I was missing. I believe if you keep an open mind, you’ll find amazing things.