….it’s all over….
So here we are, on the final week of our amazing adventure, finishing it where we started when we got so sunburnt during our 15 hour delay in Fiji way back last January. SO much better to be here at our lovely hideaway called Crusoe’s Retreat, on the southern coral coast of the island. No worries, no driving, no planning, no wondering about our next meal or where we will stop to sleep….:)
New Zealand was incredibly beautiful, breathtaking scenery all the time….and busy! We started in Auckland and ended in Auckland, doing 4500 km in 16 days and seeing quite a bit of both islands. But to backtrack and try to recall the last 4 weeks…..
(and cannot add photos till we return….sorry….)
Thailand was SO much fun! Other than visiting the elephant camp and bamboo rafting, we went on temple tours, visited the Doi Inthanon National Park which is the highest point in Thailand, had a couple sessions of insight meditation with a Buddhist monk, had amazing Thai massages for $6 an hour, satiated our market addictions to the max (crazy prices low prices for everything there….loved it!) And our most memorable adventure was when Kody crashed her motorbike….The girls and I rented motorbikes for a day to visit Doi Suthep, the most renowned temple in Chiang Mai up in the mountains—3 motorbikes for 24 hours for $24, including gas and insurance….crazy! Anyway, they gave us a practice session, and we figured we were fine (even though they do drive a little crazy in Thailand….) But 20 minutes in, and we’re stopped at the side of the road waiting to enter an intersection and Kody accidentally accelerates into 2 parked cars! Willow’s and my immediate reactions were best summed up by WTF?!?!? Luckily, she was only scratched up a bit and not seriously hurt, but unfortunately did some damage to one of the other vehicles and the bike, so we had to wait for insurance, etc….little nervous, but it was one hour and $200 for damages and we figured we got off easy. And then we continued on to Doi Suthep with Kody nervously behind me on my bike and Willow driving like she’d been doing it all her life….
So all in all, Thailand was awesome and we did 10 days, all meals, accommodations, drinks and shopping for $2000 for 4 people……LOVED it!
…..And then came back to Brisbane to find the McMahon’s home had been broken into—yuck. Apparently it’s a far too common occurrence in the area, and we found out 5 other homes had been broken into during the same time. Luckily little was taken other than a DVD player, the Wii, and unfortunately Kody’s laptop with all her stuff on it….and no backup :( The place had been ransacked, but again, luckily, no needless destruction of property….yet not a great situation for all concerned, and especially when we had only 3 days to pack up and settle everything before leaving. But it all got done, and it was VERY sad to say goodbye’s (or “see ya later” s, as returning at some point feels like a certainty)
We were driven to the airport by Kev’s brother Neil, which was very nice, and 3 of Kody’s friends came also, and it was a bittersweet sendoff….lots of tears.
We arrived in New Zealand, picked up our awesome Jucy campervan, and immediately drove to a self-storage facility to store our excess luggage (and surfboard and didgeridoo….Canadian necessities) while we travelled.
Our first stop was in Matamata, where the movie set of Hobbiton is located, and it was very exciting to drive through ‘the Shire’ on our way….And the set was amazing! Over 40 hobbit holes have been created there, and the set had just reopened 6 weeks previously after the filming of The Hobbit. It was so interesting…our guide had been there from the beginning, had met Peter Jackson, and knew so many fascinating details…it was awesome. And even more so as it was a gift from the wonderful English department at Corinda (thanks, guys, and especially Ang, as I’m pretty sure it was mostly your idea :)
A lovely gift, and it helped to ease the sadness a bit….leaving Australia was awful, even with the anticipation of travel ahead…..
And then New Zealand was a whirlwind of mountains, amazing landscape everywhere you looked, great campgrounds, whitewater rafting, hiking volcanic mountain ranges (in the land of Mordor!) walking on glaciers (not so exciting when you live in Canada, though we did see some cool ice caves), cruising the fjords in Milford Sound, not to mention bungy jumping! (only the girls—much too scary for me, and Jerry wasn’t too interested either) And they did it at the site of the original bungy jump at Kuwarau bridge in Queenstown…very exciting, and scary even to watch!
And Christmas was nice but pretty low key, and actually it felt very strange to even celebrate it in such hot weather….we were on the ferry between the islands in the morning, then spent the day relaxing in a campground, skyped with family and the McMahon’s (who were celebrating together, which was very nice), had a lovely barbecued salmon dinner and exchanged a few gifts (given that the whole year of travel has been a pretty sweet gift itself!)
And it seems we foreigners often lump Australia and New Zealand together, yet they’re very different, in ways that are difficult to explain yet very evident—not that one is better than the other (though the Aussies and Kiwis would dispute that, of course!) but there was a different ‘feel’ to NZ, which probably was due to us having spent the year in Australia and being used to things there….
And I have to say I was really looking forward to Fiji, and am quite happy to kick back here for a few days. It has been a year and a half of planning, organising, researching, travelling, learning, adapting, driving, etc., etc., and I’ve loved every minute of it, but it’s been pretty sweet (‘sweet as’) not to have to think for a few days in paradise…..We’re staying in a lovely bure with a thatched roof right on the ocean, with amazing snorkeling right off the shore here, and delicious food, and Crusoe’s Band Boys playing lovely island music all day long :) Loving it, and not relishing snow and work in one week’s time, though looking forward to seeing everyone……