All change! We’ve now been back in Blighty for a week, so I thought I’d do a quick update on our last days in Aotearoa/New Zealand and the journey back to our other home in the UK.
We’ve still got five more posts to publish to complete our NZ adventures, so it’s going to be a little confusing for a while! Apologies in advance. Additionally, Barry had a bit of an accident with a glass of wine and his laptop just before we left, so although his images are on the next NZ blog, I’m not sure they’ll get on any others for a while. But as you know he’s a ‘can-do-kiwi’ and I’m sure he’ll find a solution. Watch this space …
Saying Haere Ra to Gisborne
On our last night in Gisborne, we had the pleasure of the company of family and friends for an Indian meal at Bollywood Stars Indian restaurant. The farewell, for now, coincided with Barry’s brother Ray’s birthday which was fortuitous. Sadly though we’ve missed his son Tom’s birthday, 20th August, last year and this – by days!
The restaurant had been broken into in the early hours and we were incredibly grateful to all the staff for their hospitality despite what must have been a stressful day.
The following day we said our farewells to Tom and Mir, as well as Ray at Verve Cafe. If you’re ever lucky enough to be in sunny Gizzy, do pop into Verve for the best coffee and delicious food.
The Road To Tauranga
Around midday, on Sunday 1st September we left the East Coast and headed to Tauranga. This route is one of the most stunning roads in New Zealand IMHO. As we approached Whakatane, White Island/Whakaari came into view on the horizon. I’ve had the pleasure of walking on White Island three times since 2002, and each time was slightly different. I would’ve been four times but the weather dictated otherwise in 2006.
Most of you will be aware that on 9th December 2019, the active volcano erupted while 47 people were on the island. Twenty-two people died, either in the explosion or from injuries sustained, including two whose bodies were never found and were later declared dead. A further 25 people suffered injuries, with the majority needing intensive care for severe burns. It’s unlikely to ever be a tourist destination again.
The volcano looked very active as we drove along the coast road. She’s decided she wants to be alone thank you very much …
We’d planned to spend our last few days in Tauranga as we needed pre-flight COVID tests, and also hoped to separately spend time with friends there. I would stay with Rivka and Barry with Lee. Sadly Rivka was marooned in Melbourne, so I stayed with Max instead! I relished a couple of restful and reflective days alone. Barry’s experience involved playing snooker and drinking beer, as well as copious incomprehensible jovial chatter I’m sure.
The preflight COVID tests were $200 each, which on top of the flight certainly makes travelling a lot more costly nowadays. But we were just thankful for the chance to return to the UK and sucked it up. Actually, the swabs almost touched our brains. There wasn’t any sucking just unpleasant poking!
Farewell and Thank You NZ Areandare
Our next appointment was in Mission Bay, near Auckland, on Wednesday 4th August. Our beloved campervan NZ Areandare was delivered to her new owners. Simon and Dorothee had previously owned a Volkswagon LP28 campervan in Germany, so when they saw our LT35 with a ‘buy now’ price on TradeMe, Simon threw caution to the wind and snapped her up. A brilliant move I’d say!
We were delighted to hand the keys over to such gorgeous people, who we’re confident will care for her as much as we did. Maybe even more …
Overnight In Auckland
From there, we jumped in an Uber Taxi to the Auckland Airport Lodge. It was our first experience staying there and we’d highly recommend it. I’d booked a deluxe studio with a spa bath and was extremely glad I did. The only downside was Barry relaxed (or was stressed?) so much, he spilt a glass of wine on his laptop. Will it ever recover? We’re not sure at this point, as he also ‘mislaid’ his laptop charger somewhere on the journey back to the UK. Oh boy!
We had the space to once again unpack and pack our suitcases and hand luggage and hoped we were under the 30kg limit per hold bag.
While there we also had a visitor. Barry’s cousin Sally who lives nearby, and dropped by after work. It was wonderful to see you, Sally, albeit briefly. Barry’s other cousin Craig, and his wife Sally, were hoping to be around at the same time. Sadly, as with Rivka, they’d been unable to leave Melbourne due to lockdown number five there. They’ve since gone into lockdown number six.
The First Leg Of The Journey Back to NB Areandare
It was an interesting experience travelling TO New Zealand last year, leaving was slightly less weird but still bizarre in comparison to the other 14 times I’ve flown to the UK from Auckland. The airport was eerily empty, even at 10 am on a Thursday morning. We’d arrived early and enjoyed a coffee and croissant before check-in opened. Getting to the check-in desk we found a queue, though nowhere near the normal long line. It took around two hours to get checked in due to the amount of paperwork that needed to be checked for every passenger. The pre-flight COVID test, the ‘Passenger Locator Form‘, and the two-days post-arrival COVID tests. Sadly our hold bags were overweight, so we had to ‘dispose’ of some items near the weighing scales before we were able to check the bags in.
There wasn’t much open in the airport, a few cafes and bars, but no shops. One wonders if the businesses unable to open will survive.
The flight was probably less than a third full. Barry and I were thankful for a row of three seats each during the 10-hour flight, so we could nestle down and elevate our legs. We’ve not flown with Singapore Airlines for many years, as they’re generally slightly more expensive than Air New Zealand (our preferred airline). But sadly Air New Zealand don’t fly all the way to the UK – they use a partner airline for the second leg. With the number of flight cancellations and the chaos that we had with them to get to NZ last year, we weren’t prepared to risk it again.
A Spookily Silent Singapore Airport
Arriving at Singapore Airport, which has been my absolute favourite airport since October 2001, we were guided to what felt like a holding pen. There was nothing open – though apparently, we could’ve ordered food or drinks via a QR code and WhatsApp message. I just couldn’t for the life of me get it to work!
I wandered around, rather than sitting still for any longer – we’d got another 13 hours of that to come! It was sad not being able to wander up to the open-air sunflower 🌻 garden, or wander in wonder around the butterfly garden 🦋. However, I did find some adorable mother and child sculptures.
Seventy-five minutes exactly, and no sooner, we were called to go through to the boarding gate and a purple wrist band/ribbon was put on us. Once again, no shops were open, and just one cafe.
The next flight to Heathrow was about three-quarters full flight. No longer were we surrounded by people who had left COVID-free New Zealand. The woman across the aisle to Barry was from Sydney which was rather disconcerting!
No chance of three seats each anymore, though we did have a seat in between us so more room than we’d normally have. We landed at 5.50 am Friday 6th August, and to our great surprise, the customs journey was smooth and swift. The only delay then was getting our two-day COVID tests completed at the terminal.
Heathrow To Debdale
I’d organised for the amazing Andy to collect us in his Mercedes Taxi from Market Harborough. He’d taken us to the hotel at Heathrow in August 2020, and we’d found it SOOO much pleasanter to do that than travel by public transport on numerous trains hauling our luggage. Highly recommended, and seriously not much more expensive for two people! We were very thankful.
Surprise surprise it rained on the journey to Debdale Wharf. Not the best ‘welcome home’.
Seconds after Andy dropped us off, what should appear around the corner of the car park than NB Areandare being driven round to the place where she’d be placed back into the water. Barry had asked not to put her back into the cut until he’d had a chance to ‘inspect her bottom’ after we’d had her hull galvanised and double epoxy-coated last November.
If you’re interested in watching Areandare being carefully and expertly put back into the water, go to our Facebook page and watch the two live videos. It sure was a privilege to witness. The newly treated hull has a ten-year guarantee, with a recommendation to check in five years time.
Just after 3 pm, our scheduled Tesco online delivery arrived. As we were still in the holding area, it was easy to get it all on board. Then came the enormous task of unpacking, cleaning and sorting. Spiders had been happily enjoying taking over our floating home. Thankfully though, there wasn’t the expected mould and mildew on anything other than two towels that had been left in the washing machine.
We stayed at Debdale till Monday morning, when we headed to Market Harborough. We’re inordinately grateful to David and everyone at Debdale for caring for our floating home while we were away.
Almost A Year In New Zealand
It’s starting to feel like a dream already, our almost a year of amazing adventures around NZ. We travelled from the top of the north to the (almost) bottom of the south. Such a pleasure, especially without overseas tourists. It will always be remembered as a very special chapter in the book of our lives. Below you’ll find the overview of where we’ve been in the North and South Islands – further than most kiwis we suspect!
We fully intend to publish stories and photos from the following adventures before we start sharing watery tales once again:
Arthur’s Pass from Christchurch
Reefton to Nelson
Our South Island Top Ten
Cape Palliser and the Pinnacles
Six Weeks Back In Gisborne
For now, keep an eye on our location page, where we’ll update where we are as we head towards Chester over the coming few weeks.
11 thoughts on “Settling Back In Blighty On Board NB Areandare”
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And what a wonderful ‘almost year’ it was. 😀 … thank you both for sharing so much of it with us. 😀
A pleasure. Wish we’d got up to date before we left but hey ho too many spinning plates!
Are you any closer to setting off? Do you see it on the horizon yet? Fingers crossed for you both …
All the idiots who chose not to get vaccinated have made the Delta variant of Covid the new threat to travel, along with the wildfires that are taking advantage of this scorching summer. 🙁 … we’ve resigned ourselves to another winter here, which isn’t a bad thing. The winters are, relatively, milder here than the interior where snow is measured in meters rather than centimeters. 😀 … not that I mind meters of snow, but it might be a bit of a shock to the system.
The climate crisis blowing up in all of humanities face has rearranged our priorities as well. We can realistically both look forward to living another thirty years, all things being equal 🙂 and have to plan for those years as well as the immediate ones.
It’s quite daunting when I dwell on it for too long, but thankfully, I’m not that sort of dweller. 🙂 … in the meantime we’re gathering resources so that we have the best chance of maintaining our quality of life wherever we end up.
I hear you. Yes, dwelling on the possibilities of the future is daunting. We tend to plan short term only with a bit of an eye on longer. But we’ve always said you never know what’s just around the corner when folks as us what our ‘old age’ plans are. Carpe diem. When I’m facing death 💀 I want to feel happy that I’ve lived and have few, if any, regrets.
Your travelling time will come. When you and the Universe are ready xx
Welcome back. Where are you heading on Areandare next? We might catch up. We leave Wrenbury on 29th and will spend a few days on the Shroppie. xx
Thank you both. We’re heading towards Nantwich but it’s going to take a while! Next steps Crick, Braunston, Rugby, Nuneaton, Atherstone. Up the North Oxford Barry tells me! We’re a long way from the Shroppie yet …
Amazing. So enjoy your posts.
We are about to travel back to the uk from France. Big deal, to us. You will laugh…but encouraging to see your arrival was not extremely stressful.
Keep posting your are inspirational.
Ah, thank you for that encouraging feedback Sally.
The biggest stress for me was organising the pre and post flight tests, paying for them (ridiculous costs!!), getting to the test centres, waiting for the preflight one to be negative (their first email didn’t arrive, Barry got one but I didn’t!), and filling in the locator forms 48 hours per flight. I then uploaded each thing and kept them in my notes in my iPhone. Then I knew where they all were when I was asked. Took some thought but all went smoothly on the day thankfully! Just ensure you go to a recognised test centre. We met someone who hadn’t and had been refused to board, had to get another test before he was allowed to fly from NZ.
Crazy times but my thoughts are if we accept we have no control and just follow the rules, our lives will be simpler. Such an interesting time in the history of mankind.
Good luck with your flights to the UK 😉
Welcome back! I’ll be interested to see what your impressions are once you settle back in to the UK…Your blogs have really made me want to do the opposite journey, but that may take a little while. All the best, Paul
Thanks Paul. I think it’s good to be back! Time will tell. Yes I’m already finding it interesting having travelled up to Manchester and back by train this week.
I hope you get to Aotearoa one day. It truly is as spectacular as it looks in the photos 😉