15 November 2008

Back From New Zealand

Well, we've been home now for nearly two days and I must admit I was pleased to be sleeping in my own bed after ten days of travelling around. Gabbie had a wonderful time and it was lovely catching up with Harry and my parents. Everything went smoothly throughout our trip...I spent lots of money, we ate lots of food and I had a couple of nights of wine drinking with my mother. We did so much, I've come home for a rest...
But first things first...packing. I had to sort through my winter clothes, which I had packed away a couple of months before. We took clothes that we could layer...tee shirts, light sweaters and a warm jacket, jeans and so on. The weather in New Zealand can be four seasons in one day.

I picked Gabbie up the evening before we left as we were leaving my place at 4.45 am. It was an hour's drive to where I was leaving the car for the time we were away. They were very organised, had all the paperwork ready and all I had to do was pay them and leave the keys. We were then taken to the international airport by courtesy coach.

We checked in our luggage, passed through Passport Control and the various security checks and decided to have a look through the duty free shops. I didn't buy anything...it annoys me to have to wrestle with extra bags inside the plane. Then we had a cup of coffee...which I needed badly as I hadn't had one at home.

Finally, boarding time. I had booked us on Emirates through the internet and the two return airfares, including all taxes, commissions, etc. came to $908 and travel insurance for the two of us was $104...which I thought was pretty reasonable. We found our seats and to the delight of both of us, all seats had a tv/movie/games screen. I found the movie of Mamma Mia and watched that. Not a good idea in plane seat...I wanted to get up and dance and sing along...not sure if the other passengers would have appreciated the inflight entertainment though.

Gabbie watched some teen dance movie and the guy on the other side of me was watching The Dark Knight. Also on screen we could see ahead and down from the plane...they had cameras mounted for that purpose. Quite fascinating, especially when taking off and landing, otherwise it was just blue sky or clouds.

We had breakfast on the flight...fresh tropical fruit followed by tasty scrambled eggs with mushrooms, tomato and a couple of small hash browns, orange juice, Turkish bread with butter, crackers and cheese and coffee or tea for those who wanted it. Very nice and certainly filling. I was really impressed with the Emirates airline. My brother has used them and he said the service was wonderful and I agree. Our flight had come from Dubai via Singapore and Brisbane to Auckland and I think that there were eight or more languages spoken by the airline staff...not by every person, but because of the various nationalities employed by the airline.

Anyway, after three hours we landed in Auckland, cleared Customs and found Mum and Harold. I was shocked at how they had aged and how frail they seemed...however, that was a false impression on my part. Although they both had canes, they certainly didn't shuffle along, shaking and trembling. Mum took off, striding along, with us in her wake...I asked her what her hurry was...she wanted to get home, have a cup of tea and hear our news.

I picked up the rental car and followed them back to their place. They live in a retirement village and there are a couple of cottages the administration let out to visitors for $75 a night...very reasonable, I thought. I had asked Harold to reserve one for us and we basically used that as our base. I was glad they had come to the airport to meet us as I don't think I'd have found my way, due to a motorway which had appeared since I was last there.

We unloaded our cases from the car, had a bit of a rest and Mum and Harold took us out to dinner at the local RSA (Returned Services Association). I had prawns and vegetables...very nice, too.

The next day, Gabbie and I drove to Devonport, a seaside suburb on the North Shore and took a ferry across to the city. From there we took a bus to Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World. It's a similar concept to Underwater World at Mooloolaba here, but with fish native to NZ waters...sharks, manta and stingrays, turtles and various types of fish and crustaceans. They also have their own penguin breeding programme...unfortunately we couldn't take photos. But it's a wonderful set up. They manufacture their own snow...can't remember how much per day...and the climate is computer controlled to simulate conditions in Antarctica. When we saw them, the penguins were moulting so they looked a bit tatty with their new summer coats showing through what was left of the winter growth. They take people through this area in a closed in snow mobile and we also experienced white out conditions...and we really didn't know which way was up. It was easy to see how people could become disorientated and end up down crevasses or totally lost...eventually dying like the explorer Robert Scott and his party, who all perished a day away from the main camp.

That night we had dinner at Mum and Harold's then made our way back to the cottage as we wanted to make an early start on our trip to Northland to see Harry. I'll tell you about that in the next post.

Harold trying very hard to keep his eyes open as Mum, my cousin Erin and I kept catching up on what was happening in the family.

Mum scoffing a strawberry from the dessert Erin brought over. It was a fruit platter and looked very healthy until she produced the piece de resistance...marshmallows to be dipped in a chocolate and cream sauce. Bliss. The strawberries were also lovely dipped in the choc sauce, too.

My cousin Erin, whom I haven't seen for the last four years, telling Mum about her 60th birthday party. Apparently Erin had a wonderful time and actually celebrated her birthday over three days. Way to go...


RennyBA said...

So welcome back home then. I do agree: travelling is great, but nothing is like your own bed.

Good to know you had a good time. I remember the first time I ever was in any Underwater World was close to Perth.

Wishing you a great end to your week and if you have the time, your welcome over to celebrate with me :-)

angelo said...

Hi Robyn, I hope to see more of your New Zealand adventure! It's always great to catch up with loved ones. I heard good things about Emirates too. Don't they have a plane with showers, individual beds and a fully stocked bar complete with dance floor? or something crazy like that.... I imagine you'd have to pay a fortune to fly like that though :)

Peter said...

G'day Robyn, glad to see you had a good trip back to NZ, Wazza and I also had a great trip, caught up with lots of friends and family, some of whom Wazza didn't know but he fitted in really well whereever we went.

Merle said...

Hi Robyn ~~ Great to see you home safely and I am glad you and Gabbie had a great
time catching up with family. Your photos are good too. None of you or Gabbie??? Thanks for your comment and I didn't have to go into hospital, just an Ultra sound and a CT scan. Sorry they were the first two days the boys were here, but we all survived. It was a great week and I enjoyed every minute,and I think they did too. We had a huge new shop open called WOW that sells computers, Music Players, and dvd s etc etc.Sight and sound.
Peter and Warren behaved well, when I threatened them to "Be good" Didn't last very long!! Take care, Robyn,
Love, Merle.

Remiman said...

Glad to see and hear that you had a great trip; I'm waiting expectanly for the episode where you tear your clothes off due to a hot flash.
It's always good to get back home and a sense of normalcy and habit, no matter how fun the trip.
Welcome home.

Gattina said...

you had to dig out your winter clothes ! We arrived yesterday and it is wonderful here ! 30 °C and palmtrees ! I will write about the place soon ! Apparently you had a very nice stay !

Romany Angel said...

Ooooh does this mean we are going to get a travelogue of your trip to NZ? I sure hope so. At the moment I am travelling vicariously through another blogger through Europe and I'm thoroughly enjoying the trip.

I'm so glad to hear you had such a wonderful time. Welcome back.

Flip Flop Floozie said...

What fun...are you from New Zealand? Just wondered. i know how nice it is to go away but OOOOHHH so nice to get back to your own bed...right?? Glad you are home..More pictures to come????

Walker said...

I liked the flight from Australia to New Zealand and LOVE the Tvs.

Your first day sounds like it started off on the right foot.
I am sure your mother was happy to see you as you were to see them.

Lifecruiser said...

I'm glad that you had such a great time. I would have wanted to go to that underwater world too :-)

Must be nice to visit your family for a while, not being able to see each other so often.

I've never heard of Emirates, sounds promising. I had to check it out, but they don't have any flights from Sweden. At least not yet. I see that they have from lots of other places around the world. I'll keep an eye open for them.

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