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Double dose of Carterton

About 18,789km across the globe is a small town in the county of Oxfordshire in England named Carterton.

Colin and Sue James travelled that distance to explore the length of Aotearoa New Zealand with two places on the ‘must see’ list – Hobbiton and Carterton, Wairarapa.

The pair contacted Carterton District Council before they arrived to see if they could drop off a gift for the town but Mayor Ron Mark had a different idea.

He offered to meet the travelling couple in person and take them out for a spot of tea [or coffee].

It was pure luck their visit coincided with Welcoming Week and in the spirit of the week, Mark took the time to give the Brits a walking tour of the town.

From daffodils to Georgina Byer, Mark gave the Jameses a history lesson on our Carterton, which the pair were “thrilled” by.

They flew into Ōtautahi Christchurch to commence their three-week adventure and have described their experience so far as being “like driving in a postcard”.

Carterton UK has a population of about 16,000 and is home to the Royal Air Force Brize Norton airbase.

Sue said her fascination with Carterton NZ stems from a penpal she had as a child after her primary school linked with one here.

“We used to write to each other for about 25 years and then I lost touch with her, unfortunately,” she said.

The visiting duo became fast friends with the mayor, while also meeting a few other Brits along the way.

The group travelled down the main street, stopping at local shops to say hello – and even doing a spot of window shopping, as the mayor was temporarily in awe of a military munitions belt on display.

“That looks like it could be from the Boer War,” he said excitedly.

Even Colin looked intrigued, as a military man himself, before the group departed to take a look at the town’s war memorial.

Tales of Carterton abroad included it being named the ugliest town in the United Kingdom in the 1980s.

The Jameses delivered a letter from the Carterton Town Council, UK, to Carterton District Council, NZ, along with a certificate of friendship and a book with images of their Carterton across the globe.

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