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Travel leaders find Indiana connections in New Zealand

Travel hosts John and Ann Craig Cinnamon

By John Cinnamon

The Travel Headquarters

Oh, it’s a small world, all right. And during our recent trip around New Zealand it got smaller with each new stop.

Our first "small world" encounter happened in Queenstown. Located toward the southern end of New Zealand’s South Island, Queenstown is a mecca for adventure sports enthusiasts. Bungee-jumping, jet-boating, and paragliding are just a few of the activities that attract adrenaline junkies from around the world.

But Queenstown is also home to Fergburger, a world famous burger joint where people stand in line – sometimes for hours – for what some argue is the best hamburger on Earth. We decided to try the local delicacy and had been in (the unusually short) line for about 15 minutes when we were approached by a charming young local who asked if he could cut in line ahead of us. He explained that he and his girlfriend had already been served and seated, but he forgot to order fries. We agreed, then started the obligatory tourist chit chat. “Where ya from?” he asked. “The U.S. Indiana,” we replied. (Specifically, Indianapolis). At that, he told us he had attended a basketball camp in Richmond, Indiana just a few years before. What a coincidence! A few days later we boarded a cruise ship, the Celebrity Solstice, for a 10-day tour of New Zealand. One of our first stops was Picton, a small port town on the northern tip of the South Island, often used as the gateway to the Marlborough wine region. While waiting for our winery tour to begin, we spent some time browsing the gift shops that line the quaint main street of the town. One particular shop owner, an older gentleman named David – at least that’s what his name tag said – greeted us. He was conspicuous by of his lack of accent. Conspicuous to our American ears, anyway. We asked where he was from. Lafayette, Indiana! He went to college at Purdue University and was later stationed in New Zealand while serving in the US Air Force. He ended up marrying a woman from New Zealand and has lived there for 50 years.

Our second Indiana-related encounter in New Zealand in less than a week. But wait, there’s more! Later that same day during the winery tour, one of our stops was at the Giesen Winery. Our tour group was broken into smaller

Luke went from Danville, Ind., to New Zealand.

groups of five or six for wine tasting. Once again, we found ourselves being served by someone we assumed to be a local, but with a decidedly American accent. Leading our tasting session was Luke . . . from Danville, Indiana, another suburb of Indianapolis! He had just moved to New Zealand three months prior, after having worked at Mass Ave. Wine, a wine shop in the trendy Massachusetts Avenue district of downtown Indianapolis. Each chance encounter brought us closer to home . . . on the other side of the world. For more information, visit


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