Once the preserve of the upper and middling classes, the Grand Tour of Europe morphed into the Big OE for many New Zealanders in the relatively prosperous post-war years of the 1950s and 1960s. Travelling to Europe, often by ship via the Panama Canal, usually had London as the initial destination. London was the 'Mother city' of the Commonwealth and acted as a magnet for the young Baby Boomer generation. Despite the imminent threat of the Cold War, the 1960s offered exciting opportunities for these young global citizens. While another generation of young Britons ventured out into the countries of the former Empire, young Kiwis were yearning for the heritage, culture and bright lights of Britain and Europe for their Overseas Experience. Their adventures were enabled by the goodwill generated by their fathers' and grandfathers' commitment, mateship and sacrifice during two imperial and global wars; the OE served to strengthen these ties of Commonwealth friendship which continue to this day. This afternoon session will unpack the social history of the Big OE.