T minus 20 to Kiwi Fruit

d7497785-e119-41dd-a08f-ee0ab37f1bae-routeburn1It is that time again. Another travel adventure for Susanne and Roger. This time we are heading back to New Zealand — one of our favorite places on the planet. I would move there in a heartbeat for all sorts of reasons that have nothing to do with a stupid guy whose last name starts with a T. Although, he certainly is increasing the attractiveness of living way down there in the middle of nowhere.

Our friends Jason and Cynthia will be joining us again. We have done a lot of traveling over the years with them and for some reason they still seem to want to hang out with us.

We started planning this trip about 9 months ago after our last adventure in Northwest Australia (see blogs below). Although the list of really great things about New Zealand is long, there is no doubt that there are some negatives as well. (1) Sand flies. They suck — both literally and figuratively. I hate them. They love me.  (2) It’s a long way there with few air carriers and thus it is expensive.

I resigned myself to not being able to do anything about #1 and focused on #2. It is about a 14 hr flight from LA to Auckland. That is a long time to sit in economy for an old dude like me. I didn’t have enough miles to get business class freebies since I used them for our trip to Australia. The cost of an economy seat on American was about $2000. Yikes.  I started scouring the web for cheap airfares. I did find a few biz class tickets for abut $5k apiece, but they required about 22 stops to get there. Nope. I reached out to a couple of the “business class consolidators” to see what they could come up with. They were worthless.  Then Susanne remembered that we had a credit card that had built up a billion points that we had never used. With that we were able to get two biz class tickets for about $5k. Yeah! Only drawback was they had a 10 hr layover coming back and we could only fly in and out of LAX.

The next big issue to solve was who was going to take care of queen Sadie while we were gone. I asked my sis whether she would be willing to cater to her every need while we were gone and she said yes! Now Sadie will get a nice beach vacation in Santa Barbara while we’re gone. This worked out great since we were leaving out of LAX anyway.

So the plan is to drive out to Santa Barbara on Feb 21st and drop Sadie off. Then head to LAX on the 23rd where we will leave for Auckland.

We are headed down a week ahead of Jason and Cynthia so we can do a 3 day, 2 night trek on the Routeburn track on the South Island. It is quite close to where I did my Master’s field work and I have always wanted to do this hike, but have never had the chance.

After the hike, we are going to Wanaka for a few days, then meeting up with Jason and Cynthia in Queenstown for a week of fun, hiking and enjoying the Remarkables. We then fly back to Auckland and head up to the very north part of New Zealand and have a beach house at Taupo Bay. There we will spend 6 days enjoying the Kauri trees and the beach.

queenstown house
Our airbnb house in Queenstown

On the 14th we fly back. But that’s where the 10-hour layover came into effect. We have to stop in Roratonga. Bummer. But I noticed that we land at 1:50 pm and don’t leave until midnight. Now, I don’t know about you, but there are not too many times that I just happen to have 10 hours to kill in a beautiful South Pacific island and I really didn’t want that opportunity to go unused.

So I realized that we have time to rent a car, head out to the beach and do a little snorkeling,  have dinner on the beach watching the sunset, and then head back to the airport, take a shower, and sleep our way back to LA. Perfect. So I made a rental car reservation for the 14th only to forget that we go back in time. We leave New Zealand on the 14th and arrive in Roratonga on the 13th. So I fix the reservation. Disaster averted.

Next, I started researching restaurants and found the Waterline Restaurant and Beach Bar. I sent them an email and made a reservation for a beach-side table. How small the world has become. So instead of sitting in a dreary airport for 10 hours, we will be wiggling our toes in the sand while enjoying a nice meal.

waterline restaurant
Best layover lounge ever!


This trip in no way resembles the type of travel adventure we had in Patagonia, but it should be awesome nonetheless and definitely more comfortable.

Maybe we will decide to come back…..


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