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Published: April 3rd 2011
Di’s Birthday and also Mothers Day and no one around to celebrate, we will catch-up on the celebrations when we are back in Aberdeen.
Today we begin the long journey home to Aberdeen. We should arrive back in Aberdeen at 10:30 Monday 4th April (all being well!)
Breakfast was at 09:00, so we are up at around 07:30 to do some final packing. The clocks went back last night so we got an extra hour in bed. We have breakfast with Ian and Janet. Then we kill time until the car picks us up at 11:00.
It takes about 10 minutes to get to the airport and check-in is straightforward. We then went to the Qantas lounge as we are in good time for the flight that departs at 13:25.
Firstly we fly from Christchurch to Sydney, which took about 3-1/2 hours, that flight went fine. After a short wait we then boarded the flight from Sydney to Singapore. We had about 1-½ hours on the ground in Singapore, so we had a wander around the duty free shops, Changi is a great airport. Di had one last desperate attempt to find the shoes that she had seen
on the outward leg in her size. Unfortunately the shop had changed all the stock – oh dear!
Now for the long one, the flight from Singapore to London is about 13 hours. We watched LOTS of films and did quite a bit of sleeping. With being in Business we are able to lay horizontal which makes getting some rest a lot easier! Arrived at London Heathrow on time
We arrived at London Heathrow at about 06:30. The flight to Aberdeen was 25 mins late. The only flight that has been late on the whole trip. We arrived back in Aberdeen to be met by Natalie and Craig and our two granddaughters - Great to see everyone again
Looking back over the trip I have enjoyed every minute of it. Here are some thoughts on various aspects of the trip. We booked the overall trip with a travel company called Bridge & Wickers, and everything went like clockwise. The recommendations that the company made all turned out to be extremely good input. I would have no reservations in using the company again.
Catching up with old friends was a feature of the trip. The week we spent in Perth with Graham and Cath was great and their hospitality overwhelming. As was the week we spent with Gary and Tracy in Auckland. They both filled up the week with visits to various places of interest. I can’t help thinking how we would reciprocate if they visit Scotland. We have Royal Deeside and the Highlands, but after that I am struggling a wee bit – something I need trip work on, and of course our climate has a few challenges!!
Things that I would do differently
- Not too many things that I would change. Maybe look into the expected weather at various locations in a little more detail e.g. monsoon season in Port Douglas. But there again any changes for one location has to be balance with weather in other locations that we are visiting, so overall we probably got it about right. We also discussed whether we should have visited the New Zealand South Island first, and finished our visiting the North Island (Auckland). This is really just from the point of view of finishing the trip in a slightly warmer location; again this is a slightly minor point.
TRIP HIGHLIGHTS STAR CRUISE
– The cruise gave us an excellent start to the trip, and was very relaxing. Both Di and I would have no problems in going on a cruise in the future. The only negative aspect is that you do feel like a “commodity” at the port calls here thousands of people get ushered onto coaches for the various trips. Also the insistence that there is a photo taken (Usually with some cartoon character) every time you got on or off the ship – this got a bit wearing after a while! AUSTRALIA
As I said previously we enjoyed every minute of the trip so it is very difficult to pick out highlights, but if pushed they would be:
• The wine trip to Margaret River, both our first introduction to wine tasting and memorable in so many ways.
• Visit to Rottnest Island – If only for the fact of seeing Di on a bike- a great day
Glad that we did this train journey – but two days on the train was just long enough.
If only for the harbour view from the hotel window but also the Bridge Climb
For the stay in the Wilderness Lodge (in the “tents”), and also the walks around the Canyon rim and valley.
This was probably the main highlight in Australia. The amount of sea life that we saw on the 3-day cruise was just incredible. And the beach at Whitehaven is probably the best beach I have ever seen. NEW ZEALAND
Apart from the week we spent with Gary and Tracy in the North Island (Mainly in the Auckland area but also on a visit to the Bay of Isles), the remainder of the trip was in the Kea Camper Van. This was a great way of seeing New Zealand. In all we clocked up 3,137 km in our three weeks with the van. The GPS (who we affectionately named “Alice”) was a great aid in getting around and save many “domestics” that we would have had if we had attempted to navigate with maps North Island
• Bay of Isles – We had a memorable and relaxing trip with great scenery. The sail across to Russell was a relaxing and memorable day
• Waiheke Island – This was a great day out from Auckland with so much to see on the Island, as well as amazing scenery and off course wine tasting
• Pappamoa Beach, Bay of Plenty. - A fantastic beach with hardly anybody around. I guess the fact that we had great weather here also made it the more memorable South Island
• Motueka – A place with so much happening virtually on the doorstep. The cruise around the Abel Taman National Park was a feature here. But also great beaches and scenery
• Franz Josef – This is in for the Helicopter ride around the glaciers with views of Mounts Cook and Tasman – an unbelievably ride
• Queenstown – such a great vibrant place with great bars and restaurants. I would love to visit it when in becomes a ski centre each winter
• Milford Sound – Unbelievable scenery, on a par with the Whitehaven Beach experience in Australia, but in a completely different category being more wild and rugged. Wildlife
We saw a lot more sea life and wildlife then I would ever have imagined. I don’t know if we were lucky or it is the norm. Certainly on the Whitsunday Cruise we saw a hell of a lot of sea life!
As regards Kangaroos in Australia, never did see too many. If Graham had not taken me to the location in Perth one evening, then my sighting would have been limited to one shadowy viewing the early morning half light in Kings Canyon. I thought that we would have seen lots of Kangaroos, especially on the train journey. But I now appreciate that they are normally only seen early morning and early evening.
In New Zealand, never did see a Kiwi. Could have gone to a zoo, but that’s not quite the same. Although to balance this out we did see Albatross!!
Also, when driving around in New Zealand we saw lots of farms with cattle, and also deer (which I did not expect). Although we saw sheep in the fields there was not as many as I would have thought. Considering the prodigious rate at which the UK devours “New Zealand” Lamb
So! That’s it! So much planning and anticipation and it’s over. We will just have to start planning our next adventure! WATCH THIS SPACE!
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