Today’s the day! The day I fly home! This last week in Auckland has been much too long. We spent several days sitting around, watching TV or movies all day just trying to make time pass by faster. We should’ve either stayed on the road longer (but to be honest, we were pretty sick of driving and of the freezing nights in the van), or had earlier flights booked, but we couldn’t have known how the roadtrip would go at the time. We watched so much TV this week. We did go out with Chelsea’s parents to Japanese BBQ one night and that was good fun. The chef threw egg in my mouth and I caught it on the first try!
Yesterday we drove Andrew to the airport. I stayed behind with him as I waited for one of my old Banff friendsto come pick me up for a catch-up dinner that evening. Andy and I grabbed some classic Maccas for the last time together in New Zealand and reminisced. I never imagined we got along as well as we did. Although we have very differing opinions on many different subjects, we are very alike I find, and those differing opinions led to some really great discussions. I feel as though I know him so much better now as a person and as a friend, and he is an incredible person. I can say this because he’ll never read my blog, but he is so intelligent, passionate and funny. Even with his serious demure, he always ready with a witty remark, terrible pun or dirty joke. We both respected each other’s wishes throughout the trip, worked to compromise on decisions, shared the workload and helped each other out without having to ask. He was patient with my slow hiking speed and constant need to take photos at every viewpoint, and I didn’t mind navigating us through cities when he didn’t have a great sense of direction (although he thought he did). It was so much better to cook for two people and to have someone help with the dishes afterwards. Heck, if this is what marriage is like, sign me up! Just not with Andrew. He’s like a brother and that’d be gross. But truly, I feel as though I’ve gained a brother, one that I can trust and who will always have my back, just like I will always have his. I love that dude. So although I never how unbelievably well we got along together, sharing the same space and car for more than two months, I am so happy that we did. It was an incredible trip and I’m so proud of us for pulling it off so smoothly. Nothing was stolen, the car didn’t break (shocking!), there were no accidents, and we worked through every curveball thrown our way. Thinking of all of this, we both got a little misty eyed as we hugged it out at the airport when we said goodbye.
Alarna, a kiwi friend from my first summer in Banff (2016) picked me up from the airport and took me to one of her favorite dumpling places in the Newmarket district of Auckland. We got to catch up on so much and it was a really great time. Then she was nice enough to drive me all the way back out to Johnson and Chelsea’s afterwards! It was great to see her again.
It was hard to sit around all morning, doing nothing and completely alone in the house. Finally, 4pm rolled around and Chelsea rocked up to the house to drive me to the airport. I’d said goodbye to Johnson earlier since he’d left for work early this morning. With one last hug and thanks to Chelsea, I was cruising through the airport. By 5:30pm I’d already cleared security, but my gate didn’t start boarding until 8pm so I had some time to kill. So, I did what anyone would do and I found as many free samples as I could in the duty free, which turned out to be gin tastings! I tried a chocolate one and it was delicious! Then I cruised over to the MAC store and had a mini makeover, trying to get ideas on how to do my makeup the day of Bianca’s wedding. Finally, I spent the rest of the time eating dinner and watching Netflix until it was time to board.
8:01pm (NZ): We’ve boarded the aircraft and I’m stuck between two single men. One looks only a little bit older than myself, has never been to Canada and is going to visit family. He’s pretty excited, but a little nervous of flying. He’s easy to chat to. The other gentlemen is much older, and keeps writting emails to someone who has a drinking problem – and I’m trying so hard not to laugh. He captions the subject line with something like: “THE DRINKNG HAS 2 STOP. I CANT TAAKE IT ANYMOR. U NEED TO STOPP”. I know it’s terrible to laugh, but I couldn’t help it. He was pretty riled up.
8:10pm (NZ): Our flight time to Vancouver is 12 hours and 45 minutes. I’m so glad I have a direct flight and I don’t have to connect through any other countries. It also means a very short flight from Vancouver to Calgary! We’re supposed to have left but there seems to be an issue with precious cargo in the hold so we’re still grounded.
8:40pm (NZ): We’re still sitting at the gate. It turns out the precious cargo in the hold are bees. Actual bees. And since they’re transporting bees to Canada (so many questions!), they need the hold to be at the correct temperature otherwise they will all die. Unfortunately, their having trouble reaching the right temperature for some reason…
9:36pm (NZ): We’re finally pulling back from the gate and moving! For a while they were debating removing the bees, but eventually decided on moving them up to a different hold at the front of the plane that’s at the correct temperature. It’s strange to think that there’s a couple hundred (thousand?!) bees on this very aircraft. I’m glad they’ve figured it out, but unfortunately it means that this hour and half delay is probably going to cost me my flight to Calgary seeing as how I only had about an hour and a half to transfer flights. We’ll see what happens, but I don’t think I’ll be making it.
7:53am (BC): It’s now 2:53am on the 18th of April in New Zealand, but I’m traveling backwards through time and staying put in the 17th of April. I’ve managed to sleep on and off for the last couple of hours. They didn’t feed us “dinner” until midnight, and then the cabin got really warm. Too warm. Sleep didn’t come easily, but the melatonin pills helped a lot. I’ve definitely missed my connection to Calgary, but the flight attendants will be giving me a rebooked flight before we land. They have a company that takes care of those arrangements and thankfully it’s all taken care of, so I have no fighting or fees to deal with. Sadly, this does mean less time at home tonight. Thankfully, I’m headed to a major city so there’s definitely another evening flight to get onto!
5:47pm (BC): I’m in Vancouver! The rest of the flight was fairly smooth with minimal turbulence. I’m very impressed by the level and quality of service on the Air New Zealand flight, I’ll be flying with them again. I cruised through the new automatic passport customs, picked up my luggage which was the last one to come through on the conveyor belt and had just enough time to grab a bite to eat before my flight to Calgary started boarding. I was craving a Timmies so bad, but I just couldn’t find or get to the outlet in time. It’s so nice to be back and surrounded by familiar North American brands!
8:16pm: I’ve arrived! I’m in Calgary, Alberta, Canada! And technically, I’ve landed in Canada before I’ve even left New Zealand! I love that. I’m very tired and happy to be home. It was so, so amazing to see my family (and doggy!) waiting for me. We hugged, grabbed my bags and headed home. It feels so good to be home.
I’m so happy that I went on this trip. It was so much fun to visit Australia and see Kelsi in her new environment. I loved visiting the beautiful city that Sydney is. It was great to see old friends and meet new ones. I can’t believe we drove over 6000+ kms, across two islands and through countless cities. We didn’t camp and hike as much as I’d hoped, but we still did good. New Zealand has some really incredible terrain, and it was surprising to see how easily you switch from one environment to another. We hiked on volcanoes, visited glaciers, swam in a warm ocean, lounged on golden beaches, walked through tussock grasslands at the top of mountains and summited rocky peaks. I got about as tanned as I’ve ever been (and although it’s not a lot, it’s still more than the pasty white Calgarians!). Somehow we listened to more will smith and lonely island than anything else, and survived off chorizo sausage, tuna, rice and hummus. We white water rafted twice off of the world’s tallest commercially available waterfall, we rappelled and caved through the glowworm’s underground home, we visited Hobbiton and the WETA workshop. We ate good food, drove on insanely windy roads, winced at the expensive groceries and cried at the gas prices (lowest: 1.98$; average 2.10$; highest 2.44$). And yet, there’s still so much we didn’t even try! We didn’t make it up to Cape Reinga, couldn’t really explore the Golden Bay area due to Cyclone Gita, didn’t visit the Bay of Islands or drive the Lost World Highway to Mount Taranaki. We didn’t visit Stewart Island or Mount Cook. I will definitely be back someday to finish them off! I feel incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity and means to have explored around such a gorgeous country and have such an experience. It was phenomenal in so many ways I can’t describe and I loved it all. I will never forget it.
Stats of the trip (incl. Australia):
- Gone for 85 days
- 788.29 kms walked/hiked
- 1,127,504 steps taken
- 13,558 average steps a day
- 3 Great Walks completed; 1 attempted but incompleted