Our flight home was uneventful, but long. We were flying on free miles so had three flights with two layovers. We were lucky enough to be upgraded to business class from Auckland to Sydney, but it was only a “teaser”. That flight is three hours and on the next (fourteen hours from Sydney to Los Angeles) we were at “the back of the bus”. All was well when we arrived home and we were happy to see our pup, Gabby, and our children and grandchildren the next day. We slept very well the first night; some jet lag the next two, waking up for a couple of hours in the middle of the night.
We are still reeling, remembering all that we did and saw in Australia and New Zealand. The things that stand out are the natural beauty of New Zealand; the splendor of Sydney; the vitality of Queenstown, Ellen and Neal, Sue and Bob, Pat and Ron and other wonderful friends that we made; our day with Megan and Glenn; the helicopter ride; incredible food and the heat and flies in Uluru.
There are not many things that I would change. The days were long and we had to be up by 6:00 a.m. or before many mornings. The reasons for the early starts were to enable us to get to sites before the crowds or to be at the airport for one of our many flights. It would have been nice to have been able to sleep in a little longer occasionally, but avoiding crowds was definitely a plus. I would recommend making the trip to Uluru (Ayres Rock) optional and also staying an extra night in Auckland, as we didn’t get to see much there. The last day’s winery trip could have been skipped, although the island was beautiful.
Our guide, Lisa, was wonderful and she and Tauck did a fabulous job of taking care of all of the details that need to be dealt with when traveling.
I had some excellent questions posted and I will try to answer them now:
Only about four men out of 38 wore sport coats at the opening and final dinners. They looked very nice, but were not a necessity. We went the the opera in Sydney and many people were dressed very casually, so, again, a coat is not necessary.
If I had an extra day in Auckland I would walk in the gardens and go to the museum. It is supposed to be outstanding. There is also a nice shopping area. We were driven past all, but didn’t have any time to visit.
About ten people took the hot air balloon ride and loved it. One said that it was the highlight of her trip. They had to get up at 3:30 0r 4:00 a.m.
A number also took the zipline and paragliding and loved them, too. The paragliders said that they felt a little nauseous afterwards.
We did not visit the Immigration Museum in Melbourne, but it sounded interesting. Both cities also had aquariums. I would recommend visiting one, as we did not see a whole lot of sea life at the Barrier Reef.
I did not write down all of the restaurants that we ate at. I do recommend Rockpool in Melbourne if you want a very nice and quite expensive meal. Two other good meals were at The Cow in Queenstown and Fishbone in Queenstown. Your guide will give you lots of suggestions.
I am sad to be ending my blog, but will be revisiting it often, as it is my trip diary. It was fun to have several folks who will be taking the trip next year following us and hearing from friends at home! Please post any additional questions that come up in the days and months ahead.
Good-bye for now!