This one has been the hardest to write, I kept saying to myself, do it now while it’s still fresh in your mind. And before it does all start to blur into a mish mash of fantastic memories, so here goes.
Thursday we just enjoyed the company of our friends as the weather really did not want to play ball. Although the evening was rounded out by some fabulous New Zealand lamb for Rob and yummy chicken breasts for me and yes of course there was dessert!
Friday we went out in the boat with Toni, Denise and Jim. It was fantastic and we quickly went from the lake down through the river valley and out to the beach. Jim and Rob pulled the boat up onto the beach and then we all walked out to the sandbank. It was interesting to see the scenery change so dramatically over a reasonably short distance. The lake had lots of black swans most of them in family groups with all their cygnets in tow. It was a great chance to spend time on the water and also blow some cobwebs away.
Saturday we took a run in the car with Toni, over to Bulls Creek beach and Crystal beach. They are both very close to the house although once you are over the hill the roads become very quiet with nothing but sheep and forestry. At Bulls Creek, we had to maneuver the car through the sheep to get to the parking spot and then a quick walk over the headland to see the fabulous waves crashing on the shore and a solitary sea-lion having a rest.
At Crystal beach we thought we may get to see some of the very elusive penguins but alas it was not to be. But the crashing waves more than made up for it. I LOVE the smell of the ocean, especially when there is seaweed as well. And the sounds of the waves is just music to my soul.
Sunday morning was a bit of excitement as Denise and Jim were having an old walnut tree cut down. It was really interesting to watch him strip all the branches off first and then take the tree down from the top. The strapping young guy with the chain saw did a great job taking it down limb by limb to avoid damage to the building or fence. He left quite a large stump, but Jim says it makes it easier to pull the roots out once you have dug around them, and you have something you can really pull on.
Sunday afternoon we had to pack to make sure we were under the weight limits on our bags. After another great dinner, Rob and I used the hot tub and ad a chance to reflect on all our amazing adventures.
Monday was leaving day, it was pretty tough to say goodbye to Toni, Jim and Denise and the tension was only broken by Rob’s inability to start the car (see day 1 post) and realizing that it works better if you have not left the keys on the side in the house. Dunedin Airport is the complete antithesis of most airports in US and UK. It was only a 15 minute drive from the house and returning the car consisted of parking it and leaving the keys in a mailbox!
After an uneventful flight we arrived in Auckland and traveled to our hotel. We stayed at the Four Point Sheraton and had floor to ceiling windows on 2 sides of the room which gave us great views over the city, including the sky tower. We took a walk into town along Queen Street which is the main shopping street and went as far as the harbor ate dinner and then had wonderful gelato to round it out. I do have to say that Auckland City Center is my least favorite place in the whole of New Zealand, I thought it was dirty, run down and I feel sorry for all the cruise ship people who get that as their first taste of this amazing country.
Next morning we went for another walk into the harbour and then caught a train out to the largest craft shop in NZ. Parked Rob in the husband crèche and had a good look around although given our suitcase weights, I was very restrained and just bought a couple of fat qtr of linen. Back into town, an early lunch and then headed out to the airport to start the long journey home. Auckland airport is very nice, clean, tidy and plenty of places to sit. The food options were good and the prices were not the usual outrageous prices that you get at some airports. Air New Zealand has an option in economy class called “Sky Couch”. You get a row of three seats and each seat has a leg rest that comes up level with the seat and gives you basically a twin width bed. For two short people like us, it was great and I made the most of it. We had a long layover in Houston before the final journey back to Atlanta. Arriving home pretty close to midnight. We were knee deep in leaves and our water would not work till Rob was able to fix it the next day but that was our only issues.
And so the journey ended …………. But with fabulous memories and plans for more travel so watch this space!