OK, so it's only taken me a week to write the final chapter to our "down under" trip. I believe that I need to go back 2 days to bring everyone up to date.
Friday we didn't have anything planned, so hopped the ferry to Devonport Island for a leisurely stroll along the shore and through the little village.
Not much on the island to see, but some of the older homes were quite spectacular. We stopped for a pleasant lunch, walked through the little village, bought 2 t-shirts for $10 each (the only thing we had to declare on our customs form) and walked back to the ferry just in time to catch it back to Auckland.
After the museum, we thought we would get out of the busy central district before the traffic got too bad, so we headed towards the airport, which it just so happens that a winery in located close to the airport - Villa Maria Winery. We stopped in for a pleasant wine tasting and decided to have a leisurely lunch. After lunch, it took us about a 1/2 hour to find a gas station to fill the rental car before returning it, but couldn't think of anything else to do, so headed for the airport about 3pm to wait there.
We got the rental car turned in and headed for the international terminal to go through customs and security. Now we have travelled from Tucson to Sydney to Christchurch without a problem with our carryon bags. But here in Auckland they have a weight limit on the bags you can carry on (never heard of that one before) and both our bags are over limit. So we have to pack as much as we could into one bag and check that bag. So it took us a bit of time to get this all done. But made it through customs and security fine after that. Here is the plane (Boeing 777) that took us back to LAX (note - M&R Sheetmetal produces some of the parts that are used to build these planes).
Overview of our trip - was a great time, saw just a small portion of both countries, but it did give us a good idea what the country is like. Got to see the highlights. Three weeks went by quite fast and it didn't bother us to be gone that long. Driving in New Zealand was easier than in Australia as it was less congested, but driving had to be the most difficult part of the whole trip. It took both of us to keep the car on the "wrong" side of the road and watch for the traffic coming from the "wrong" direction and the "wrong" side of the road. If I never see a "roundabout" again I will be happy. They just love them in both countries instead of traffic lights and stop signs. They are everywhere. The weather was excellent, started out maybe a little cool and only had one day of minor rain. It was hard to find restaurants that served salads and vegetables. It was great to get home just to eat fruits and vegetables again. We found people in both countries to be hospitable and quite friendly.
I hope all of you have enjoy our trip along with us. As you can imagine, we have many more photos than what I've posted, but the internet was limited and/or nonexistent. All the photos were taken with our iPhones which made it quite convenient not having to carry my bigger camera. We did not have phone or cellular data service on our phones, but used hotel and restaurant wifi's to connect. In traveling out of the country, I'm finding that you take advantage of any wifi connection you can find for free to upload the pictures to the iCloud, but I really didn't discover this until half way through the trip. The motels might provide wifi, but limit you to 500mb (gone in a minute) or their service is so slow you cannot connect.