New Zealand is 8,200 miles from my home in the Midwestern United States. Before January of this year, I let that distance keep me from seriously considering making a trip there myself. I told myself, “Some day I’ll do it." Apparently, what I needed was the right carrot dangled in front of me: an invitation to join two friends who have visited multiple times and could share their familiarity with me. On February 13, I landed in Auckland, New Zealand, and my first-ever two-week vacation began.