After spending the morning further exploring Christchurch and its environs, Secretary Clinton has just departed to continue her Asia Pacific trip. Dr. McWaine and I are standing on the tarmac with Minister Brownlee, Mayor Parker, and other dignitaries as the Secretary’s plane lifts off, happy that the Secretary was able to spend three days here in New Zealand, the longest stop on her journey.

She is now on her way west to Melbourne where she will join U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and other officials for the annual AUSMIN ministerial meetings. Held regularly since 1985, AUSMIN is the principal forum for bilateral consultations between Australia and the United States.

The Secretary will then head home to Washington, with a final stop in American Samoa en route.

The full journey: 12 stops, 13 days, and more than 31,000 miles. Click through for larger Photo.

The full journey: 12 stops, 13 days, and more than 31,000 miles.

From all accounts the Secretary thoroughly enjoyed her time in Aotearoa. She commented frequently on the warmth and openness of our Kiwi friends. She was impressed with the natural beauty and vibrant culture of the country. And she was pleased with the steps being taken to deepen and expand what is already a deep, abiding, values-based, strategic, and mutually beneficial bilateral collaboration.

We wish the Secretary safe travels and look forward to seeing her again soon.