Top Ten in New Zealand: in which we bid a fond farewell

August 12, 2013 in New Zealand, Oceania, Travelogue

NZ Top 10

The view from seat 28 E is blue skies and puffy white cloud as we glide across the Tasman Sea from Auckland toward Sydney. If our entrance to New Zealand was less than smooth, our exit has been flawless. It must be some kind of land speed record to go from curbside drop off through ticketing, baggage check, passport control, and security clear to hot tea in my hand and a quiet place to wait in fifteen minutes flat, for six people. The travel gods were smiling on us this morning.

Perhaps it was in sympathy for our sleepless night. I awoke at 12:04 a.m. with a start, and haven’t closed my eyes since. Two hours of reading (mostly John Galt’s radio address somewhere around page 4786 and following) Atlas Shrugged, half an hour of tossing and turning and then, we both stopped pretending to sleep for the other’s benefit, got up and logged a couple of hours of work before our 4:30 a.m. wake up call. I uploaded an article. Tony sorted out a website niggle he’s been noodling for quite a while for Ocean Spray. This location independent gig has odd hours.

I knocked on the kids’ door at 5:15 a.m. sharp. They were dressed, packed and downing last bowls of museli and yogurt. Only one boy was found not to have showered in three days, par for the course. They’re nothing if not old pros to the long travel day rodeo.

It’s already been said, but we’re sad to be leaving New Zealand.

“You know Mom,” Hannah mused as we traversed the jetway to board, “I’m going to be back here… I have a good feeling about it. I’m young, I have lots of time, I just know I’ll be back….”

In that vein, with one eye trained on “next time,” I bring you our New Zealand Top 10 (in no particular order) from our six months on the islands:

1. Skiing Mt. Ruapehu

In which we take great northern hemisphere joy is skiing in “summer” with some of the best friends we made in NZ.

2. Dinner & a Concert With Sir James Wallace

For the sheer one in a lifetime wow of getting invited to the home of a Knight of the Realm.

3. High Peak Station

Perhaps this is really the #1 of all of our years of travel #1’s. There is nothing like creating memories for a lifetime with family who care enough to fly around the planet to do something way out of the box. Thanks Uncle Dick, we love you!

4. Otago Central Rail Trail

We’d love to cycle New Zealand in a serious fashion next time. This two day ride reminded us of our cycle trip in Europe and made us miss our two wheeled stallions!

5. Yellow Eyed Penguins

A bucket-list item for Ez, and spectacular to have seen in the wild, without the assistance of a safari trip!

6. Taieri Gorge Train Trip

Tony’s birthday and one of those epic journeys that will live in our hearts for a very long time, I can still hear Hannah playing, “This train…” to the clack of the wheels.

7. Auckland Adventures With The Alboms

We’ve made some great friends in NZ, none more kind, generous and just plain fun than the Albom family. We will see these people again.

8. Camper Showers

Tony would debate whether this was “fun,” but it belongs on the top ten list for weekly reliable hilarity.

9. Glowworms at Waitomo

We went to the well advertised caves, but honestly the best glowworm sitings were had for free on a very memorable overnight in the state forest.

10. Cromwell Courthouse Caper

In which Ezra gets himself locked in the safe of the old courthouse (now the home of my childhood baby-sitter). I have no idea how this kid gets himself into these fixes. I can’t make this stuff up.

What were your favourite stories from our half a year at the end of the world?