First things first – we survived the trip home, and that’s saying something!
Our shuttle arrived at 8:15a to pick us up and drive us the 1hr trip to the airport in Cairns. The Simpson clan stopped by to send us off and take our remaining food items to their apartment for their last few days here.
The airport check-in was, again, a big production. I spent an hour on the phone last night trying to make sure we would have a smooth check-in – no such luck. I have no idea what happened when About Australia made our reservations, but every.single.time. we checked in for a flight we encountered problems.
You can put this on repeat for the rest of the journey home:
Step 1: Check-in
Step 2: Find gate & have a seat
Step 3: Repeat
We flew from Cairns to Auckland – a 4hr flight. Departed at 11:50a and arrived at 6:30p – roughly. Then we waited for about 3hrs before our next flight – Auckland to LA – the long haul – about 12hrs thanks to a nice tailwind. Departed at 9:30p and arrived at 2pm. Customs was a breeze and then we waited. Our final leg – LA to Austin – a 3hr flight – departed at 7:50pm – arrived at 12:55am. Seriously.Long.Day. Lincoln slept the best of all of us. The girls, mom and Bryan got a few hours. I did not. After 4 airports and 32 hours of travel, we are home!
We were greeted by Kendall’s parents, Tip’s mom, step-dad and sister and our fab friend, Dinah, provided our last shuttle ride home. Looking forward to shower, teeth brushing and my own bed!
After the worst jet lag ever, we’ve considered the trip. On the whole it was an awesome adventure and one we are not likely to forget soon. The kids really did awesome – even Lincoln. It gives me hope that traveling with the little guy is possible and will only get better as he gets older. I think having Kendall with us made the trip extra special for us all – especially Tipton. It’s always good to have a travel companion!
We all agreed on the following favorites:
Shotover Jet Boat Ride, Hobbiton & Great Barrier Reef. We also really liked Walter Peak Farm, Luge on Bob’s Peak and Featherdale Wildlife Park. There is only one part that we considered less than an ideal part of our trip – The Doubtful Sound. We say that only because of the extensive travel involved – 13hr day – all in motion with many, many transfers. It was just too much with kids. We did cancel our last tour – the Cairns Night Zoo. We were just too tired and needed to just be on the beach and in bed that last day/night.
In general I would say we all packed well. We were all sick to death of our clothes by the end, but we had what we needed and used almost everything we had. That is a victory and a first for me. We did have to buy Lincoln a hat and gloves and Bryan some heavy wool socks in Queenstown, but that’s not bad. I loved the packing cubes and think they were very helpful. I foresee frequent use in their future.
The people were all very nice and helpful. The accommodations were really pretty good for the most part – with the exception of Queenstown, but the location was exceptional – so maybe a wash there. All of the tours were well run and the coaches were really nice – especially AAT Kings Tours. We had very little trouble getting around and found everything we needed easily. I would say both countries are fairly driven by tourism and make it pretty easy for people to see the attractions.
A few stats:
21 day trip
8 plane rides
2 rental cars
13 boat rides (including ferry boats)
23 bus rides
5 gondola/rail/skycar rides
7 grocery store trips
No one got sick!
Countless bottles of wine, cups of coffee and hot chocolate – Cheers!