26 to 29/11/15 We have spent the last few days relaxing and enjoying seeing Eleri again after such a long time. The jetlag has not been anywhere near as bad as we feared thankfully – just waking in the middle of the nights for an hour or so but then dropping off again, and not feeling like the walking dead in the day.
Auckland has surprised us at how much like home it feels – probably the place that is the most like the UK that we have been even though it is half a world away. This is probably a combination of many factors such as the English language, the driving on the left, and the weather. The latter has been “pleasantly warm” (low to mid 20’s) and a few showers in between sunny intervals. Much like the British summer really!
Friday morning was spent booking onward travel (see below) before heading back to base for Christine to unpack and sort the luggage from the Ikea bags into panniers while Stephen reconstructed the bikes. His efforts were great entertainment for one of the housemaids who was having a late lunch outside! Tai took a great interest in everything and invariably greeted explanations with an archetypal Japanese “Ah so” much to Stephen’s amusement!
On Saturday afternoon the three of us took the short ferry ride across the harbour to Devonport where we wandered along the seashore passing a typically British scene of cricket matches being played in whites and loud shouts of “Owzat!”. We climbed the small extinct volcano called North Head and enjoyed views of the lush green islands set in the blue waters of the bay.
Tomorrow (Monday) we are leaving Auckland and heading north to the Bay of Islands by bus. Getting the bikes on board is not ”guaranteed” as it is dependent on the driver’s assessment of the other luggage to be carried but the lady who sold us the tickets was confident that it would be ok as only 13 of 49 seats had been booked. Lets hope she is right! Otherwise we will be waiting for the next bus with room!
Well, we made it to New Zealand! And so did the bikes and other luggage thankfully.
The 27 hour flight via Los Angeles wasn’t as horrific as we feared and we were lucky to find our hotel room hadn’t been used the night before so we were able to check in on arrival before 10 a.m. This meant that we could “freshen up” and grab a couple of hours sleep before heading into the centre of town to meet Eleri when she finished work. (She is topping up her funds by working in the HR department of Auckland city council until Christmas.)
As it was the first time we had seen her since Easter, 7.5 months ago, there was lots to catch up on as we wandered around the harbour area before getting a quick dinner in one of her usual haunts and then climbing back up the hill to our hotel for an early night.
The last few days have disappeated in a curious mixture of panic, activity and waiting. Strangely, in some ways we are more nervous about going than when we left in April even through there is far less packing of household “stuff” to be done. This is probably because turning round and going home to get or do something that we have forgotten will be much more difficult this time. Flying half way round the world seems much more final than simply cycling off up the hill!
Anyway the bikes are boxed and everything (apart from a few clothes) is packed. This is the sum total of what we are taking with us for a year or so!
This was the scene that greeted us yesterday morning and shows why we are off!
The need to be out of the house by (potentially) 27 November meant that we have less than three weeks to get ourselves sorted and gone. As a result we went into Full Action Mode (otherwise known as Hit The Panic Button) on booking the flights to New Zealand. Although we have flown with the bikes many times, the additional weight of the camping equipment and other “stuff” made choosing much more complicated to get the excess baggage costs down to a reasonable level. In addition, travelling one way only seems to make life more “interesting” (and expensive!) for some inexplicable reason. As a result we high tailed it to a London travel agent to help sort out the options and stop our heads spinning.
So we are now booked on Air New Zealand to Auckland via Los Angeles on 24 November which is a weight off our minds. Now for everything else!
The news is that Christine’s arm has improved significantly, thank goodness. She doesn’t have the full range of movement (yet, at least) but it is good enough for us to contemplate travelling again. The intention is take it easy at first, probably making “day trips” initially so that Stephen can carry the reduced amount of luggage.
As we have let the house from early December, we intend to make a start in the second half of November. As mentioned previously, we are avoiding the impending winter weather and heading for the southern hemisphere – New Zealand to be precise. This is where our daughter, Eleri, is currently living while on her own travels around the world so it will be great to see her “in the flesh” (as opposed to on FaceTime) for the first time since early April.
We’ll be updating the blog on a more regular basis from now on so keep coming back. (Assuming you are interested in seeing what we are up to, of course!)