This Wonderful Little Place … Lake Tekapo, New Zealand

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The Irish broadcaster and basketball player, Jacqui Hurley, describes how she discovered this lake on a memorable trip to South Island …

I’ve always considered myself lucky I spent most of my childhood on the other side of the world, because I think it made the idea of travelling seem so normal to me, and it also made me appreciate what a beautiful country we have in Ireland. My parents are both from Cork, but they took an opportunity in the 1980s to live and work in Australia. My mum is a nurse and my dad is an electrician, so they knew getting work wasn’t going to be a problem – that probably felt like the easy part after making a 48 hour trip across the world with three small children under the age of four!

Their sense of adventure definitely rubbed off on me because travelling around the world and discovering new places has always appealed. I did my internship in college in Mississippi and regularly spent weekends in New Orleans exploring the city. From jazz clubs, to beignets at Cafe du Monde, to watching the New Orleans Saints play at the Superdome, I completely immersed myself in its culture and loved the experience. When my sister became a pilot, it was like a gateway into another world and some of my best trips were spent with her, exploring Africa, America and the Bahamas.

My husband Shane loves to travel as well and we made a promise that it wouldn’t stop when we had kids. So in 2017, we took six weeks off work and went on the trip of a lifetime with the kids to Thailand, New Zealand and Dubai. Luke was nearly four and Lily was only five months old, so we figured it was a good time to do it before they started school.

Of all the places I’ve ever visited, New Zealand is probably the one country I’d consider living if I was to ever leave Ireland. The lifestyle, climate and people are fantastic and the landscape is just beautiful. We travelled around the country for a month in a camper van, following a general route, without any stringent plans and we stumbled across some amazing places – but there’s one in particular that will always stay with me.

Lake Tekapo, on the South Island, is a tiny village community that can easily be missed by people travelling the island. A lot of people make the mistake of following the coast road, but friends of ours told us to make sure we drove inland and stop there. It was a little out of the way, but it was worth it! We pulled up the camper van at a campsite and spent New Year’s Eve watching fireworks on the lake. Waking up and looking out on the lake was like opening the window to a postcard. Surrounded by glaciers, there in the middle, was water so blue, it almost seemed fake.

After having a swim, we had lunch on the terrace of a restaurant called Mackenzies and just sat admiring this amazing scenery. We took a lovely family photo that still hangs on our wall and every time I look at it, I think of how peaceful it was. A gorgeous moment from one of the most memorable trips I’ve ever had.

Girls Play, Inspiring Stories of Irish Sportswomen by Jacqui Hurley, published by Merrion Press, €14.95, is out now.

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