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July 26-27, 2001
From warm weather to cold (Russell)

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A day on the road: Gail steers, Russell repeats "keep left"

It rained on our last day in Rarotonga. But it was a nice warm rain, and it didn't stop us from doing what we wanted. We gave the boys an extra long scooter ride before returning the rentals. We took the backroads and let them ride in front, so they could feel like they were driving. We took the bus all the way around the island. Gail and Cameron finished their two-day project to open a coconut using only natural tools -- although it was all dried up inside. Joss discovered that he could climb a huge tree in the backyard. The boys made sand castles and "Crab Lands." Russell continued to work on his tan.

On the morning of the 26th, our flight to New Zealand was scheduled for 4:50am, which meant an early morning pick-up at 2:30am. The good news was that the flight was delayed, so we could actually sleep in until 4:30am. The bad news was that the driver rang us up at 1:45am to tell us so.

Gail ran headlong into the wall answering the phone. She pulled a muscle in her shoulder helping Joss get through air sickness on the plane -- and spilled food on herself. The car rental place in NZ thought our reservation was for the day before. Otherwise, our arrival in NZ was uneventful. By crossing the International Dateline, our 4 1/2 hour flight left on July 26 and arrived on July 27.

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From Auckland to the rest of the world

The two-hour flight delay and the delay in getting our car meant for a long day of driving on the North Island, from Auckland (on the west coast) to Rotorua (in the center). Someone talked us into a detour to the Coromandel Peninsula, which added another three hours. It was beautiful, but honestly it looked just like Northern California.

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"Home" for the next week: a rented Subaru station wagon

We finally brought our Subaru station wagon into Holden's Bay at Rotorua near dinner time, pretty exhausted. Gail and the boys cranked up the space heater and put on every piece of warm clothing they could find. After a wonderful dinner out, we skipped our mineral bath reservation and all fell asleep early instead.

Gail's mantra for New Zealand has already been decided: "We didn't pack enough warm clothes."


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