Back the way we came

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This was our last day in New Zealand. I woke about 6:30 to see the sun beginning to brighten a blue sky with scattered clouds. Majella was soon up and preparing for the day. We sat down to breakfast and woke Harry a few minutes later. He was conscious of our plan for an 8:00 am departure and every few minutes told us how many minutes we had left. In the end we were out of the apartment and I was driving up the road just before our 8:00 am target.

Nobody felt the need or want to visit the Hundertwasser toilets in Kawakawa again so I headed on down Highway 1 toward Auckland. There was a steady stream of traffic heading south but it was mostly moving at a decent pace and there was seldom a need to pass anyone though there were reasonably frequent passing lanes if that was necessary. 

There was one major delay for roadworks as we approached Brynderwyn. We were stopped by a light at the top of the range and waited for what seemed like a very long time before any traffic appeared from the other direction. When it did, it came in multiple bursts behind heavier vehicles that had slowed its ascent. Eventually we had our turn. There was just one small stretch of actual roadwork where the road was about to drop off the edge but the other end of the exclusion zone was at the foot of the range. Presumably that was to avoid problems with vehicles using the passing lane on the uphill section and trucks having to stop on the slope.

By then Majella was suggesting that we change drivers at the next town. Ideally that would have been with coffee. There was nothing at Brynderwyn so I drove on. As we drive through Kaiwaka I spotted the Apple Basket Patchwork Shop and pulled in, thinking we could change drivers and I might earn brownie points. We changed drivers but Majella was not interested in that shop or the Italian Bakery on the other side of the road across a stream of traffic.

We passed through a couple more small towns and eventually stopped for coffee at Sheep World just north of Warkworth. We had stopped there in 2010 but it is now owned and operated by Springboard, an organisation that provides training and development for young people. We had coffees (Fanta for Harry) and slice and relaxed a while before Majella drove on.

Our navigation app directed us through Auckland and toward the GoRentals site. Just before we arrived there we pulled off where the map showed a service station and filled the tank. Majella was aghast at the $2.79 /litre price tag. Drop off for the car was easy and despite the message suggesting there might be a wait for the shuttle we were at the airport soon after 12:00 pm.

We had a problem with the checkin machines at Sydney on the way out and again here. The machine would not read my passport so I tried Majella’s. That was OK, as was Harry’s, but my name (recorded by Qantas as ‘Peterr Albion’) did not correspond to my passport. A Qantas staff member assisted and we were soon checked in.

Immigration and security were next. My bag was delayed behind a couple of others but was cleared. We made a couple of purchases in the duty free area and then headed for the Qantas Club. Harry couldn’t believe his luck, landing among ‘free’ food and drink again. Majella thought he could have happily spent his entire holiday in the Qantas Club.

Our flight was on time and boarding was no issue. We settled in to enjoy the entertainment and a meal. Arrival into Sydney was about 5 minutes late. Harry had some problem with the ePassport gate which swallowed his ticket from the prescan and would not let him pass. We were both through ahead of him so he had to go back and seek help from one of the staff. A few minutes later he reappeared with a new ticket and was allowed through this time.

Our bags were close to last on the carousel. Once we had those we passed through biosecurity and walked to the far end of the terminal to wait for our shuttle. That took just a few minutes and then some more to drive to the car park. We had forgotten which level we had parked in but found our car on our second attempt.

Then we were off to Nick’s to deliver Harry. Nick had arrived home from Singapore over the weekend. Lucas was at the Gold Coast with family but Ben had returned early for dance commitments. Sophie was out and about so we missed her. Harry presented Nick and Ben with gifts he had bought them. We chatted for a while and then headed for our hotel to rest in preparation for driving home tomorrow.

It has been a fun trip. We revisited some of our NZ favourites and explored some new places. Best of all was spending time with Harry and sharing his excitement with new experiences. He was always interested in the places we went and made some effort to discover more about them. He took many photos that should help him to enjoy his memories of the trip.