Tuesday, February 13, 2018

So Long New Zealand - I'll Be Back

And in what seemed like the blink of an eye, my 16 days in the north island of New Zealand are over.  Since I last wrote, I stayed two nights south of Auckland - one in the bush of the Hunua mountain ranges and one in a coastal village of Whakatiwai -- at two more unique and special Airbnbs.

Tonight I am at an airport motel -- having turned in my car with 845 more miles (well, officially 1360 more kilometers!) on it than when I started (about 40 miles more than a 14 hour journey from Seattle to San Francisco.)  I've become so accustomed to driving on the left side of the road, that I may be in for a learning curve when I get back to the states.

My return flights begin at 8:00am in the morning (Feb 15 here) and will take me 3:45 hours to Sydney, 1:30 hour layover, and 13:50 hour flight Sydney to Los Angeles - landing two hours before I leave Auckland (landing at 6am on Feb 15 in Los Angeles) - thereby returning the day that was robbed from me during the journey here!

And, once again for readers who like hearing about the mishaps -- I ended up having to get roadside service for a bad battery -- which became an adventure all its own as I had reserved through a budget provider.  Suffice to say -- I got to know the owner better than I might have preferred to get the battery replaced.  The battery failed to start the car once prior on the trip -- but I had arranged to get a jump on my own fearing that an expensive call out might be blamed on me leaving lights on or some such.  The battery lasted several more days before quitting again (after a long, motorway run).  Thankfully, I was only insignificantly inconvenienced by the hassle, but it was a hassle -- and the owner claims he will reimburse me for the first jump I had paid for out of pocket.  The owner actually delivered and installed the replacement battery!  But like I always maintain -- if I wanted easy routines, I'd just stay home!

An unscheduled dip in the ocean, a couple of jump starts, arranging a battery replacement, and more rain than sunshine, but nothing that really detracted from a truly fun and interesting trip. I  met some wonderful Kiwi's, stayed at some amazing places -- and paid as little as $41 for an Airbnb (not counting the free stay with friends!) and as much as $96 - with an average of $71, and all but one of those AirBnB's were private spaces with my own private bath/toilet.

Summary:  a beautiful country with super friendly people where travel is easy.  Diving at Poor Knights Marine Reserve and boating/"catching" with my new friends will remain the highlights - and I'm already thinking about when I can return -- not only to the North Island but to explore the North Island city I didn't get to: Wellington; and to visit the South Island, its cities and mountains!

"I'll be back."