Friday, 3 March 2017

Poroporoaki Aotearoa

Yesterday we bade farewell to New Zealand and flew home.  After checking out of our accommodation we spent time on the pebble beach and playground in the city centre of Queenstown to give Patrick some time to play and burn off some energy.  He and Ben used the left over bread to feed the ducks and seagulls too.  He loved it.  He also got to see a small zippy tractor cutting the grass in the parkland over the bridge from the park.  It didn't look like Uncle Brad's tractor though!  We took a last stroll through town and made our way to the airport.

My last view of the mountain while having breakfast on Friday.

Having never travelled internationally before, I had never given any thought to what goes on in the International terminal of the airport.  It is not as simple as travelling domestically - and even less so when travelling with a toddler.
Self Service check in with 4 travellers, passports and so many pieces of luggage as well as checking to see whether the airline will allow the car seat to be used on the plane all takes a considerable amount of time.  Then there is the departure card to complete, the security check of the carry on luggage and then passport checks.

Back in Melbourne however we moved through the relevant checks effortlessly.  You see, having a car seat to secure on the plane meant the we were the first to board; it also meant that we were the last to get off the plane.  This added to the fact that there were not enough Entry Cards on the plane meant that we had to stop in the terminal to fill out the cards before we could go any further.  Then Ben got some stuff from the duty free store, so by the time we got to the luggage carousel, ours was the only luggage there and all the lines had gone.  We got through all the other checks without having to wait.  What a nice welcome home that was.

So we have been and come back.  We certainly did cram a lot into our 8 days.
It was lovely to meet Annabelle's family and to see Patrick interact with them.
It was an experience driving with a GPS (I have never done this before); 
the voice guiding us sounded so much like Lee Lin Chin (SBS), so thank you Lee Lin for getting us safely to all of our destinations.

What I will take away from this trip is:
Being welcomed so warmly by Annabelle's family in Timaru
The beautiful scenery everywhere we went - there was always something to see and photograph.  
The hills and mountains, the lakes, the history.
Standing on a glacier - on snow, at the beginning of March
Getting to know Ben, Annabelle and Patrick as a family unit in a way that just doesn't happen here at home.  
Thank you for asking me to travel with you.
Having Patrick tell me at Melbourne Airport that I could sit in the back seat with him on the way home - but that is a whole other story.

Farewell New Zealand

Thursday, 2 March 2017


Today we started the day heading for Arrowtown; a quiet historic town about 20kms away.
It was quite quaint and well worth the visit.  Plenty of souvenirs, different things to see and good cafe's.

This afternoon we were booked on a helicopter flight over 'The Remarkables' mountain range.  When Ben checked in at lunchtime from Arrowtown he was asked it he wanted to upgrade for no extra cost for a different flight.  Needless to say, he said yes.

On the way to the airport we passed Lake Hayes. I have been waiting to get a shot of a lake that was still enough to mirror the mountains - here it is:

On to the airport and we were on a one hour flight to the Mt Aspiring glacier - not just flying over it, but landing and walking on it.  On the way there I got to sit next to the pilot.  The views were just magnificent so I will let these few pics (there were many, many, many more) tell the story.

What a week it has been, but tomorrow we head home - to recover!

Up and up and further up

On Wednesday we went to Wanaka.  Although it is only 68kms from Queenstown, the best route to get there is quite difficult and takes ages.  It was my turn to drive, but little did I know that once we got onto the Wanaka road, that it would be so steep and winding (not my kind of road at all) for the first 20 or so kms.  Patrick didn't think so either.  Poor thing vomited so we had to find somewhere to stop to clean him up.  Once we go there it was fine.

Lake Wanaka is very picturesque, surrounded by mountains.  As all the lakes we have seen so far have been, it is very blue.  It was a lovely day and there were lots of people out enjoying the sun and atmosphere of the tourist town.

Patrick felt sick a few times on the way home too, once we hit the winding roads, but he was fine.  There were some great places to stop and take some good pics closer to Queenstown.

Looking towards Queenstown through the airport.

On Wednesday night, Ben and I went back up the gondola to the top of the mountain to do the Stargazing experience which started at 10.30pm.  Our host was a very knowledgeable and engaging Australian who took us through lots of interesting facts about the inhabitants of the night sky.
It was a brilliantly clear night and lots of thing happened that don't usually happen which made our guide very pleased.  We saw shooting stars (I didn't), meteors and the International Space Station.  We got to see activity from the Southern lights - more than he had seen for a long time.  One member of the group had a really good camera that was able to take a photo of some of it.  It was quite something to see the light that the human eye cannot see.
We looked through large telescopes to see Alpha Centauri, star clusters, and even Jupiter. I couldn't see the smaller ones overly well with my glasses, but I did see the different 'lines' on Jupiter.  It was a very interesting experience.