Dave's Trip ReviewNovember 10, 2017 in the United States ⋅ 🌧 10 °C
The Top of the Top and the Bottom of the Bottom
What an amazing trip, and one that we will remember fondly. By documenting it via the travel blog, it makes it easier to revisit and reflect. But, before the trip gets too distant, it's nice to look it over and remember the good and the bad.
The most special part of course is being able to do all these things, both the good and the bad with my best friend, Brenda :-) The trip would not have been nearly as special without her support and love. She's my favorite person and made this vacation the best one ever!
The clear cut #1 for me was the small plane ride from Milford Sound back to Queenstown.
We weren't sure if we were even going to be able to return via plane. Our bus driver was quite discouraging about it letting people know that it was raining in Milford Sound and that most likely, they would cancel all the flights and we would get refunded our money plus get the bonus of taking the bus back.
Thankfully, our weather worked out not only for the boat trip through the sound, but for the plane ride back.
Plus, we had a super upbeat nice young lady pilot who we shall call "cookie" since when we met her, she was super excited because she was enjoying a really yummy cookie and knew it was going to be a great day!
"She's the best!" the people at the counter said, and we have no reason not to agree with them :-)
She got us out safely, and gave us some narrative while we were flying back.
I took sooooooooo many pictures on that flight. We had been looking at the Southern Alps all day from ground level, but taking the air gave us an entirely new perspective on them. So nice, and at 45 minutes of eye candy, just the right amount of time.
Certainly beats the 4.5 hour bus ride that would have been waiting for us.
Later in the trip, we found out just how lucky we were because we talked to a couple that had a similar vacation to us, but for them, the day they wanted to go to Milford Sound, it was totally fogged in with bad weather, so they didn't even go. A shame that they missed out on my #1.
#2 Sydney Wildlife
If I ever felt like I wasn't sure I was in a foreign country, all I had to do was go outside. The critters give you an excellent clue that something is different. Mostly birds as we didn't see any "wild" Roos or Koalas. Loved the parrots and other misc critters. For me, all of the fish during our snorkeling were new to me. We saw the majority of them in the aquarium, but to see them out in the wild and without the protective glass keeping a distance is a total change of perspective. I'm in their environment and just a visitor rather than just an outside observer. It was a great way to drive home the point that we're on an adventure and by having everything be so "new" it made it quite fun to soak it all in and enjoy the ride.
#3 Great Barrier Reef Snorkeling
Was pretty apprehensive of this going in. Was concerned about possible motion sickness and the fact that I haven't been snorkeling in forever. Might as well call this the first time since it was my first time doing snorkeling in the ocean.
I'm an ok swimmer, so I at least had that going for me.
Once I got used to the breathing and learned to relax a bit, it was an amazing experience. The lack of big waves on the ocean certainly helped. Plus having the suit meant that I could easily just float and look around at all the amazing fish.
Would have liked to have seen the turtle that everyone else got a chance to see, but I'll settle for the shark and the ray.
I really want to do snorkeling again sometime. I'm sure I can do better with a bit more practice and will make sure the experience doesn't result in sunburn :-)
#4 Glow Worms
So glad we opted for a smaller tour. Just 12 people and it made the experience that much better. The surreal view of being in a cave with a "sky full of blue stars" above you. They estimate that there are about 50,000 glow worms in the section that we went. Was amazed that the more your eyes get adjusted to the dark, the more glowing lights you see. Was not sure what to expect when we went, and thus felt like I got more from the experience than I thought I would.
It's a fun and worth while tour. Extra special bonus was I managed to locate a glow worm T-Shirt in an adult size at the gift shop. Yes it glows, and it totally makes me happy :-)
Plus it will be a perfect shirt to wear to an amusement park with dark rides :-)
#5 Coastal Walk
This was just all about the views. We had a nice sunny day and took a long leisured walk along the coast. Made all the more special with the installation of various "art pieces" that were going in for a special event that weekend. The art integrated well with the landscape and created that many more photo opts. Sure we have the coast here in Oregon, but this was more of a walk with views of a Beach :-)
#6 New Zealand International Lounge
A perfect way to end our vacation.
The lounge was relaxing, had tons of excellent food (including some flakey sausage rolls that reminded me that I was still in a foreign country) and got us ready for our flight home.
It also gave me that feeling of finality. Like when you go to Disneyland and you know you've just finished riding your last ride of the trip, and you have that moment of sadness that it's over, but you also want that feeling to end on a good note to keep that feeling with you. I've locked in that feeling and while I'll remember all that good things that happened on the trip, I'll also remember being able to say good bye to New Zealand feeling really happy with the trip and the ending.
#1 - Delay a Day and the Mess involved there
Only good thing I can say here is that we lost "just" a day, and it could have been a lot worse. Of course the impact was felt a bit further into the trip as we had one less day to try and get all the things in at Sydney as we could. I think that's why we really didn't feel like we were truly on vacation until we reached Cairns and were "back on schedule" with the number of days we were to be in a given location
#2 - Sunburn
My own fault, but it was a pretty painful lesson. It's a week after the end of the trip and I'm still not 100%. Thankfully it was isolated to just a few parts and not bad enough that I couldn't enjoy the rest of the trip. Would opt for more sunscreen or possibly a longer suit.
#3 - Airport Shuttle Ticket disaster
Another one that was my own fault. I thought it would be easy, and it should have been, but instead it became more of a pain than it was worth. In the end we opted for Uber, and that was much better. Wonít make that mistake again, I'll reserve the right to make all sorts of different mistakes :-)
#4 - Disc Golf Course Frustrations
I knew it might not be super easy to find the course in Rotorua, but I didn't realize that it was going to be as tough as it turned out to be. Plus, after spending a lot of time trying to find it, it was a terrible course, so we hardly played any holes. It also cut into our time at the Maori location, so that was a bummer too.
#5 - Ants in the hotel room
After a lot of winners with our hotels, it was sad that one of our last ones was a bit of a clunker. Our last night there when they moved us into a different room was much better though, so that was good.
#6 - Swallowing Salt Water
Much like the lounge was a great way to finish off the vacation; swallowing salt water is probably the worst way to finish off the snorkeling experience at the Great Barrier Reef. No fun at all and probably one of the main reasons I want to get another chance to do better at the snorkeling :-)Read more