Adventures with Missoula’s Sister: Our Sabbatical in Palmerston North, New Zealand


It’s not very common to have the chance to live on the other side of the world for a short period of time, but that opportunity presented itself to our family in 2012, and we took it.

Everything has fallen into place for my husband, Tom Gallagher; my daughter, Madelyn Gallagher, and me to fly to the southern hemisphere and live in New Zealand for six months or more.

Tom accepted a teaching appointment at Massey University on Palmerston North, and I received an eight-month sabbatical from my position as Executive Director of the Missoula Downtown Association.

We have some friends – Chris Williams and Michael Schweitzer – who have agreed to run our side business, Legends Photography, and we relocated the business out of our basement to the heart of Downtown inside the Dark Room at the corner of Higgins and Main.

Palmerston North, New ZealandOne of Tom’s co-workers, Beth Shirilla, has agreed to live in our home and take care of it, our plants and our cat. Maddy’s friend, Lily Beck, and her family are taking care of our guinea pig.

Apparently, this was meant to be.

We leave this week – January 13 – and will fly from Missoula to Rarotonga, Cook Islands, where we will stay at Mac’s Shack on the south side of the island for seven days. We will then fly from the Cook Islands to Auckland and then to Christchurch, where we will hang out for a few days while we shop for a a car.

Our plan is to tour the South Island for about 10 days before taking the ferry across the Cook Straight, where the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea meet. I understand it’s a very windy and wild ride.

Mt Turoa in Palmerston North, New Zealand.

We’ll land in Wellington, spend a couple of days there in what is known as one of the windiest cities in the world, then drive up and settle in to Palmerston North, New Zealand.

I’ll share more with you about Palmerston North in a later post, but what you should know is this: It is Missoula’s Sister City, and we have a lot of connections to that community.

So…off we go into the wild blue yonder…on an adventure unlike any I have ever experienced.

You can keep tabs on our family adventure and all the things we’ll learn by visiting Make It Missoula each week.



Linda McCarthy has served as Executive Director of the Missoula Downtown Association since 1999. Prior to that, she served as a Sports Information Director for Grizzly Athletics for 10 years. She is a two-time graduate of The University of Montana, where her husband, Tom Gallagher, is a professor in the Applied Computing and Electronics Program at Missoula College. Her daughter, Maddy Gallagher, is an outgoing and kind 11-year-old who has spent all of her school years at Lewis & Clark Elementary. They can be reached via email at: