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December 30, 2003

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After a big BBQ dinner on Christmas day with the Van Roons, we all exchanged presents and enjoyed the remainder of the day around the house and farm. We flew from Christchurch to Auckland the next day, Boxing Day in New Zealand, and had a few hours free before our midnight flight to Los Angeles. We took the ferry across the harbour to Devonport and wandered around looking at the mostly closed shops of this quaint little suburb/village. Back downtown we did some last-minute souvenir shopping and sightseeing, had a kebab-shop dinner and hopped on the bus back to the airport to claim our stored luggage and catch our flight.

We arrived back in Atlanta early Saturday morning, around 1 a.m. Our flight from Los Angeles was delayed an hour or so and then it took over an hour for all our luggage to appear on the baggage carousel in Atlanta! Lucky for us a good friend and neighbor was up late Friday night and kindly agreed to come to the airport and pick us up - we had way too much luggage to attempt riding the train and a cab ride home costs about $60.

It’s nice to be sleeping in one’s own comfortable bed again after weeks of travel, even if there’s an uninvited guest sharing your home: a rodent of some sort has taken up residence in our walls while we were away. It’s also nice to have our dog, Alice, back again (thanks Tiffany and Carol for taking good care of her).

We had a wonderful time touring around New Zealand. I think three and a half weeks is just about the right amount of time to see the highlights of the country, though we did feel rushed from time to time. It can be quite exhausting when you only stay a night or two in each location, but New Zealand has so much to offer on both islands that you feel like you’re missing out if you don’t keep moving.

I think our favorite activity on this trip was sailing on Doubtful Sound. It was just so pristine, isolated and beautiful and really met my expectations of what the New Zealand wilds would be like. Sailing the Bay of Islands and diving on the Poor Knights Islands were close runners’ up for me, as well as flying in a helicopter over Franz Joseph and Fox Glaciers.

All of these excursions added up to a rather large sum of money, especially considering the currenly weak U.S. dollar. We actually found the trip to be somewhat more expensive than we imagined it would be, partly due to all the pricey activities, but also due in large part to the cost of meals, which were nearly as expensive, if not more expensive, than cafe and restaurant meals at home in Atlanta. We could have saved some by cooking and picnicing more often, and we could have saved even more by staying at more of the very reasonably priced holiday parks so popular with camper-van drivers and backpackers. Some of the B&B’s we chose, however, were quite nice and were relatively good value compared to the same quality accomodations at home. In any case, it was a fine trip and we have many good memories of the places we visited and the people we met - No worries!

Posted by Scott at December 30, 2003 11:25 AM
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