Exhausted from our previous day, we had a “chill out” day, packing our bags and getting ready for our 51 hours of continuous travel which were due to start that evening at 7.40pm. We noticed the weather had dramatically changed in Christchurch where we were only a week ago. There was 30cm of snow, cancelled flights and broken power lines in Christchurch. We were pleased that we had not planned to finish our holiday in the South Island a week later; else we would have been caught up in the bad weather.I took this as being an omen that it was time to go home, back to Whitley Bay.
Our flights were booked from Auckland to Newcastle, so we had two choices, change the flights or get from Wellington to Auckland by some other method. The only flights we could get required us to fly out of Wellington at 6.00am, which meant booking in at 4.00am and leaving Whitby at about 3.30 a.m. We took pity on my brother-in-law, who would have happily taken us down to the airport in the middle of the night, and decided to make our way up to Auckland Airport ourselves. No trains on a Wednesday ruled out train transport, renting a car and driving 600km through the night on two way traffic roads did not appeal to me so we opted for the masochistic option of taking an overnight coach that took us directly to Auckland Airport. We were like zombies when we got there ten minutes early at 7.15am, but it save a lot of hassle using other method. At 9.00a.m. we checked in on time, not looking forward to our 11+ hour flight, but we were pleased things were going smoothly. What could go wrong? Ah, we were using Jet-star, which if you read a previous blog, were late in taking off both times we flew with them. Our 11.00 departure was delayed by just over two hours this time, so thank heavens we had a 5 hour stop-over due in Singapore so the delay would hopefully not cause an onward flight problem. We needn’t have worried, our next flight, 13+ hours with Qantas, was delayed two hours as well! Qantas was good enough to give us a food voucher as compensation for the delay. Our next worry was what would happen at Heathrow as the delay would only now leave us less than 90 minutes to go through immigration, customs, further security and also to transfer between terminals. We needn’t have worried, our BA flight from Heathrow to Newcastle was delayed by almost an hour as well, giving us ample time! Out of the eight flights we had on our trip, six were delayed. Is this a record? After our short flight to Newcastle, we went to pick up our baggage. One of our two checked bags made it, which is a 50% improvement on our outward journey, but what the heck, we were home after our two month holiday. Our son-in-law and daughter picked us up at the airport and we were whisked home after our 52 hours of being on the road non-stop, for a bath and for me, a good English pint of real ale.
THE END - Almost. I will summarise our views of our adventure in one more blog, and perhaps include a few photographs of Whitley Bay and its surrounds, so you can see why I still think Whitley Bay is still in the running for being Centre of the Universe.
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