The bus which was due at 01:50 didn’t turn up until 02:25 which just goes to show another of New Zealand’s transport system fails at providing a reliable, on-time service. It wasn’t a pleasant wait in the cold, but it was nice to feel the warmth once the bus did arrive. It was near impossible to sleep though so by the time the connecting shuttle bus had taken us from Manakau City to the airport we were understandably tired.
Fortunately we were able to check our luggage in straight away (5 hours before check-in officially opened) and get some breakfast. To be honest it wasn’t great and wasn’t even as good as breakfast served on planes which is saying something. Hanging around the airport we continued to wait several more hours, trying to waste time by looking around the gift shops and attempting to sleep in the uncomfortable chairs.
For lunch we went to Subway as it was the most reliable looking of the food places in the airport. After going through security we were then stuck waiting for our flight which suffered delay after delay due to engine problems. Finding out what was happening was hard work, with the Air New Zealand helpdesk being no help whatsoever. By the time the scheduled time for departure had come and gone we’d already been waiting a couple of hours for news of our flight and eventually we were told an estimated time which gradually slipped as time went on. After 2 hours we were then given NZ$10 vouchers to spend on food and drink, but shortly after the boarding call for our flight was finally announced. By the time our flight left we were over 2 and a half hour behind schedule but still had plenty of time to get our next flight from Melbourne.
By the time we arrived in Melbourne we had gone around 40 hours without sleep and still had a 24 hour flight back to the UK ahead of us. The check-in was relatively quick and for an evening meal we just had a light snack as we knew we’d get food during the next flight. Once we’d eaten I sat and read for a while but eventually couldn’t concentrate on the book or anything for that matter – I was struggling to keep my eyes open yet the noise of the airport gate was keeping me awake. All I wanted to do was sleep, but eventually we were called for boarding the flight back home. As expected I didn’t really sleep between Melbourne and Hong Kong, nor from Hong Kong back to London so was extremely tired by the time we landed.
After three weeks travelling around Australia and New Zealand we had finished our journey and was home. It was hard to believe everything we had seen and done in this time, but we had done it and in a few short days I would be off again to do the Three Peaks Challenge climbing another 3 mountains around the UK over 3 days.