It is Wednesday, January 2, 2008 at 10:22 p.m. Chicago time and we are safely ensconced back home (Andrew in San Diego, Wendy & Wayne in Chicago, and Em packing for New Orleans even as we speak). We arrived home at 4:00 this afternoon (technically 3 hours after we left
They (at least in the books I've read) call
They (mostly people who haven't visited) also say that as long as you're going, see both countries while you're there. We disagree. They're so different. As long as you're going, go deeper into one country and go back for the other. There's so much to see.
For a primeval feast of the eyes with amazing fern forests, volcanoes, thermal pools, geysers, mountains, rivers, waterfalls, overall spectacular scenery, and more sheep than people, choose NZ. An amazing place, it is a haven for foodies and for adventure lovers. Feels a little like the road to Hana on
For more diversity, architectural triumphs, great cities, culture, incredible eats, amazing shopping, time in the tropics, extraordinary Aboriginal history and sights, choose Australia (keep in mind, we tend to find amazing shopping everywhere and had the customs forms to prove it). And mind you, we only saw a small part of the country. In terms of wildlife, unlike Capetown where the baboons are on the loose a half hour out of the city, you won't see kangaroos in the big cities of
Other Things We Learned (beyond our region updates)
Did you know that the loo's in NZ and
Did you know that when the continents were separated (centuries ago),
In Rotorua, don't forget the Agridome (campy must not miss sheep show) and the Zorb (another action activity for the brave of heart, of course Andrew tried it).
This is the best spot for t-shirts in the world (so far at least). If you travel here, pack half the shirts you would have. You'll pick up more along the way.
We discovered two of the world's finest airlines with our transfers--New Zealand Air and Quantas. What an improvement over United!
1.Being together as a family, couldn't beat it.
2.Sydney Opera House, the whole experience was amazing.
3.The people, everywhere.
4.Auckland on New Year's Eve (while the fireworks weren't on a par with what Sydney does, it was awesome to see in the New Year 2 hours earlier than Sydney with fireworks off the Sky Tower which we had ascended only 8 hours prior).
5.The Botanic Gardens--everywhere!
6.Knock-out scenery in NZ.
7.The special dessert arranged by Andrew & Emily for our 33rd wedding anniversary.
8.Getting drenched at
9.Our audio expert, John, with funny stories, and his Maori warrior impersonations while we tried to "keep to the left" on some pretty challenging, winding roads.
10.The Wharekauhau country estate outside of
And, of course, everything else. We could do a separate top ten of the meals...but you got the idea.
So, thanks for being with us on our journey. Now, for laundry, some sleep, a lo-carb diet, regular exercise, paying bills, and a return to the real world.
Happy new year everyone.
wendy, wayne, andrew & emily