Leaving Middle Earth

As the plane zoomed along the runway and took off into the stormy looking sky, I felt quite sad to be leaving New Zealand. Throughout our 3 weeks exploring the north and south islands, I’ve seen so many beautiful places and done so many incredible things that it was quite hard to say good bye to it all. Going back to Australia wasn’t the worst thing in the world as it too is an amazing place but there’s something about New Zealand that makes it special. I’m not sure whether it’s the snow capped mountains dominating the skyline or the milky blue lakes beneath them or even the glaciers slowly creeping down the valleys but I’m definitely going to miss exploring it all and discovering new things every day.

Early morning
Early morning

This morning I didn’t quite feel the same after waking up at 4:30am to get ready to leave the hostel and catch the airbus to the airport. Nope, this morning I just wanted to leave Auckland and get back to Brisbane as soon as possible so I could go back to sleep. Of course I didn’t have anything against Auckland, I was just incredibly sleep deprived and wanted the entire travelling thing to be over. After sorting all our bags out last night, having food and making sure we filmed the time-lapse for our video, we only got to bed at about 12 and even then it took until almost 1am for me to actually fall asleep. I’m not the best person in the world at maths but even I know that that’s not a lot of sleep which is why I wasn’t in the best of moods this morning. It didn’t help that it was still bucketing it down and now extra windy as it meant walking and waiting for bus wasn’t the most pleasant experience. Still, there’s not much you can do when there’s a huge sub-tropical cyclone heading your way, is there?

After a very straight forward trip to the Auckland International Airport on the Airbus, we made our way inside and headed towards the check in desk. The driver had told us that the last flight had only just been able to take off due to the increasingly vicious weather so I was really hoping that we wouldn’t be told not to bother and to turn around and leave. I’m pretty sure that’s not how it works and you check in anyway with the hope of taking off but in my confused and sleepy state, I was convinced it was going to happen. There are worse places than Auckland to be stranded, Brisbane for one, yet the thought of having to stay awake for even longer to sort things out, was a thought not welcome in my mind. Quite frankly it could get lost.

A Hobbit dwarf
A Hobbit dwarf

Luckily or obviously, checking in was fine and once we’d got rid of our bags, we headed up to ‘International Departures’ to have a sit down. There was a huge dwarf statue just at the top of the stairs “on loan from Middle Earth” which was quite cool to see and it threw me back into the magical world of The Hobbit once again. Before even thinking about going to New Zealand, this particular set of films hadn’t really appealed to me but after deciding to re-read the book before our trip, I found myself desperate to watch them and absorb myself into the world of the hobbits. I’ve always been interesting in the behind-the-scenes side of filming and production, part of why I studied BA (Hons) Television at university, so to be able to visit some of the filming locations when we arrived was a great experience and I absolutely loved it. I challenge anybody to not find themselves enchanted by the thought of little hobbits gardening and wandering around on a visit to Hobbiton or dwarves clambering up tall, snowy mountains. You might not like the books or the films or might not even have heard much about them (though this might be impossible!) but I’m pretty sure that the scenery alone will capture your imagination and I guarantee you’ll never want to leave.

Go away cyclone!
Go away cyclone!

Anyway, we soon found ourselves feeling rather hungry and in desperate need of a tasty snack to fill us up a bit before our plane meal in a couple of hours. The tiredness combined with this had turned me into quite a snappy cross patch and so the only way to counteract this madness was to indulge in a tasty KFC snack. Yum. A piece of original recipe chicken and chips later and I felt my mood lighten, leaving me to try and enjoy our morning in the airport. I like watching planes take off and people watching so this wasn’t too hard to do apart from having to simultaneously stop my eyelids from closing and my head slumping on the table. A nap would have been amazing. I knew that if I did have a little sleep, I’d end up feeling so much worse later on though so forced myself to stay awake. Grrrrr. Damn you logic. I would have enjoyed a nice sleep. Instead of resting, we finished our food, made our way through the fun of security (Codie was scanned twice!) and went and sat in the lounge for a while, watching out of the window as the sun slowly rose, blocked out by the endless clouds. What a lovely day. I can’t really complain about the cyclone ruining the view of the runways though after what has happened in Vanuatu. It’s such a shame that people have had to go through that, especially when there’s absolutely no way of preventing such a thing and I’m glad that people are helping. 

Best plane ever
Best plane ever

An hour or so later we decided to wander a bit closer to the gates in the hope that we’d be able to start boarding the plane soon. There was an absolutely amazing plane outside with Smaug, the dragon from The Hobbit, on it and we had our fingers crossed that we’d be on that one. Annoyingly but somewhat unsurprisingly we weren’t and were instead on a tiny little one sitting alongside it. It was quite obvious that we wouldn’t be on the Smaug plane as it was massive and obviously being used for long journey however, it was still rather disappointing. Ah well. At least we got to see it! Resigned to the fact that we’d have to watch the dragon take to the skies without us, we flopped into some seats and waited to board. And waited. And waited. Hmmmm. It turned out that due to catering problems, boarding had been delayed for 40 minutes; not something you want to hear when you’re desperately in need of a comfy seat to collapse into but never mind. The tiredness had started to make me a bit giddy so I was finding things to amuse myself with as well as laughing at Codie. It really wasn’t the worst delay. Eventually, we were told we were all allowed to board and after having our tickets scanned, we followed the throng of people slowly wandering down to the plane, optimistic that we were finally on our way.

Goodbye NZ!
Goodbye NZ!

Finally seated on our flight back to Brisbane, I sat back and tried to relax. There was supposed to be quite a bit of turbulence during the first part of the journey due to Cyclone Nathan and I hoped that there would be. A lot of people I know are terrified when the plane bumps about a bit but in a strange way, I actually enjoy it. I think it’s because it breaks up the monotony of having to sit still on a long and smooth flight and it’s just a lot more interesting. Of course I wouldn’t be saying that if it got really dangerous but I’m sure some people know what I mean. Turbulence can be fun. Before departing, the same Hobbit safety video as last time was played though I found it hard to concentrate with the screen flickering. I couldn’t stop staring at all the flickering colours, even though I could feel my head beginning to throb, and I felt as though I was staring into Sheer Khan’s eyes (I’m still shattered now so pardon the weird comparisons!). In the end, I turned my attention away from the screen and watched as we began our runway sprint. It was horrible having to leave such a lovely place behind but I know for a fact that I’ll definitely be back to see the Kaikoura dolphins if nothing else!

Enjoying the tasty plane food
Enjoying the tasty plane food

Throughout the flight, I abandoned my need to sleep for my need to watch The Hobbit and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. I think it’d probably have been even better watching it on the way in to New Zealand but being able to see places we’d visited throughout our trip was great and added a lot to the whole viewing experience. In terms of the flight it was so far so good, thought there was very little turbulence, but wait…. things were about to get even better; it was time for our inflight meal. Hooray! Since it was still breakfast time we had scrambled eggs, sausage balls and tomato potatoes followed by a pot of fruit and a spice apple muffin. Yum. Yum, yum, yum. It’s strange how much you appreciate certain foods when you haven’t had them for ages and I found myself really savouring the taste of the scrambled egg. Normally I’d have demolished that first but since we haven’t had it for months, I appreciated every tiny mouthful and dragged it out for as long as I could. I’m telling you now, in 3 weeks or so, when we get back to the UK, I will be the slowest eater in the world as I will really be making the most of every different type of food that isn’t pasta. It’s all very well saying you can live on pasta and noodles but waking up knowing that your facing another pile of it coated in the same tomato sauce can be a bit soul destroying. Of course that’s not to say I don’t appreciate being able to eat, of course I do, it’d just be nice to have a wider variety of it and less pasta-ry goodness.

Hallo Australia!
Hallo Australia!

A few hours later and it was time for us to land and face customs, something I’d been dreading. Since we’ve only got another 3 weeks left in Australia, we don’t exactly have too much money left and I was worried that they’d deny us entry, a thought exacerbated by my intense tiredness. The last thing I wanted to have to deal with was trying to convince the customs officers to let us into Australia whilst having a camera shoved in my face for ‘Border Control’ or something like that. I mean, I love watching that programme and all but I can imagine that being on it would be horrendous. Luckily, everything went fine, even though I’d had to fill out my declaration card multiple times for various mistakes, and we flew through the airport in record time. Thank God we hadn’t been stopped in customs though; it turned out that Channel 7 were there filming ‘Border Security’! I knew it! I can just imagine my added panic After flying into Brisbane airport when we initially arrived, we knew exactly what to do and so it wasn’t long until we were sat outside waiting for the air train to take us back into the centre. Considering we’d been expecting the temperature difference to be quite difficult to deal with, it was surprising and really quite nice to sit in whilst we waited for the Air Train. I have to say, I found it really weird to be sat in the exact same place on the  way in like we had done back in October especially knowing so much about the country now. I wonder what I’d have thought if I’d have known the good and the bad things we’d be faced with during out trip. I think I’d still be up for it as I love a good challenge though I don’t think it’d been quite as fun knowing in advance. Exploring without a clue of what’s ahead has been such an incredible experience and though at times it has been difficult, I wouldn’t alter a single thing we’ve done. Not at all.

Back in Brisbane
Back in Brisbane

Arriving in the city centre, it was as though nothing had changed and it didn’t feel like we’d been away at all. I didn’t like this feeling at all as it was like we hadn’t even been to New Zealand and after having such an amazing time there, I found myself resenting Brisbane quite a bit.  I didn’t want it to seem as though we’d never left. Grrrrrrr. Still, at least returning gave me the chance to try and actually like the place; 3rd time lucky hopefully! So far it seemed alright and the weather was lovely so who knows, this might be the time we actually really do like Brisbane…fingers crossed anyway!

Blue skies in Brisbane
Blue skies in Brisbane

When we arrived back at Bunk, we were greeted with the news that we had to wait an hour or so before we could check in and go to our room. This wasn’t really a problem as having been there many times before, we were incredible familiar with it all. Though my head was fine with the wait, my sleepy eyes were starting to protest a bit and I ended up falling asleep on a table. Oh dear. I hope nobody saw! By the time we’d got to our room and enjoyed a tasty lolly courtesy of Bunk, we were hungry and thirsty so decided to go for a wander to Woolworths. No sleep deprivation could lessen my excitement for that. Nope, not at all. Everything seemed so cheap! I can’t remember the last time I was so excited about buying Ribena, beans and soup but I’m telling you, it was so much fun. It was nice to know that we’d be able to have some nice food without using up all our money which is how it’d felt in New Zealand. I suppose in that sense it was nice to be back in Australia. We spent the rest of the day desperately trying to fight the tiredness and trying to catch up on various blogs and photo editing in the “chill out room” in the hostel. I normally enjoy spending a couple of hours or so on things like that but when your eyes are closing and you find yourself typing the same thing out twice, it gets a bit annoying in the end. In the end, at about 5pm we decided to just go and make our nice chicken wing and mash tea before heading back for showers and getting snuggled up in bed to watch things. It was nice to eat something so yummy and even more so to have showers that had a bit of pressure behind them. It’s the little things!

So, here I am now. Just about surviving on 17 hours off being awake and struggling terribly with the New Zealand/Australia time difference. It’s only 8pm here so not quite acceptable to sleep yet whereas in Auckland it’d be 11pm, a very reasonable time to sleep. If we’re struggling with the jet lag of a whole 3 hours, I hate to think what our journey back to the UK will be like! I have a feeling I’m going to end up looking like a walking corpse, trying to tell people things but getting my words muddled up and falling asleep. Should be interesting anyway! Tomorrow is definitely going to be another day of sitting about recovering rather than forcing ourselves to wander around. We have plenty of time for that over the next couple of weeks and I’d rather make sure I got the most out of everything instead of feeling rough. No point ruining the last bit of our amazing trip with bad memories is there?

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