It’s time to share the highlights (and the lowlights!) of our recent New Zealand odyssey. We spent 10 nights in the North Island and started out in Auckland. Despite a rocky start we came out of it stronger and it made our holiday that much better – but I’m getting ahead of myself…
The night before we flew out we stayed at the Rydges Hotel just across from Sydney International airport and despite the promise of a “Dream Bed” (and it WAS dreamy!) I slept terribly. I have to admit that I have never been more stressed and worried in my life. What were we doing, taking kids who don’t like change to another country? What would we do if they couldn’t cope or if we couldn’t cope?
I just wanted to run back home and take the easy option out. Thankfully we stood our ground and found ourselves in the International Departures at 6.30am waiting to be checked in.
Despite my fears, the kids were gold. They were excited and a little nervous but we had worked hard to get them as ready as possible. The night before we had walked around the airport and had discussed what would happen. As a result they enjoyed watching the bags being taken away (knowing that they would be there again in Auckland) and cooperated with the demands of going through security.
The promise of a McDonald’s brekkie probably also helped with the buoyant mood too!
The next challenge was the flight itself. But the judicious provision of chewy lollies and noise-cancelling headphones saw them happy and content through takeoff and for most of the flight.
The flight itself was fantastic. We flew Emirates and the staff were attentive and generous and lovely – I can certainly recommend them. The kids all received a toy and blanket for the flight and the entertainment system was top notch. We really couldn’t ask for more.
Our meals (special gluten-free ones, of course!) were yummy and the kids enjoyed theirs too. Even Gilbert, who didn’t eat much of it but thought it looked great and didn’t meltdown when he was presented with things he doesn’t normally eat! It was a great start and we were so relieved to have some of the stress of our first overseas holiday fall from our shoulders.
Our plane on the tarmac in Auckland
The sense of relief was not to last, however. Arriving in Auckland we discovered one of our bags had gone missing. Unfortunately it was the kids bag. And Gilbert became absolutely distraught when he found that out.
After an exhaustive search by airport staff, we lodged a claim for the bag and decided to finally get moving so we could settle the kids (esp. Gilbert) after the flight. We just wanted to get out of the airport and start our holiday afresh.
First stop was the Europcar rental kiosk where we went to sort out our rental car. After the fear of God was put into us by the rental officer (oh, the pressure of renting a newly minted car!) I asked about the booster seat that was ordered for Delilah. Apparently no booster seat had been ordered and there were none available.
Crap. Without a way to transport Delilah legally in the car, we were officially stuck at the airport…
So we set the kids up at McDonalds (to calm and distract them) while I tried my luck finding a booster seat for hire somewhere in the airport. Unfortunately I had no such luck so I was given directions to the nearest shopping centre and hoped to find something to buy so we could finally be free of the airport!
To lighten Nathan’s load, I took Matilda with me for the ride. I faced the following challenges:
First challenge, was finding the car.
Second challenge was opening the car (it had keyless entry).
Third challenge was to start the car (not that straightforward in a keyless entry car).
Fourth challenge was navigating safely out of the airport while trying not to put the windscreen wipers on instead of the blinker!
Fifth challenge was following the directions correctly and finding the shopping centre.
Sixth challenge was locking the car (apparently you can’t check that the car is locked if you have the keyless entry ‘key’ in your pocket at the same time!)
Seventh challenge was finding a department store with booster seats.
Eighth challenge was finding a booster seat that didn’t cost too much (we luckily found one for only a little more than hiring one would have cost us).
Ninth challenge was getting back safely.
Tenth challenge was putting the seat together once we returned to the airport.
But return we did and the family was finally liberated from Auckland Airport after a mere four hours of waiting!
However, we couldn’t head to our accommodation just yet. There was still the little matter of finding clothes for the kids to sort out. Cue massive meltdowns as we tried to buy clothes to a strict budget with Gilbert overwrought because he just wanted ‘his’ clothes, not new ones. It was not the best shopping experience any of us have ever had…
After also grabbing some grocery supplies we FINALLY made it to our accommodation in Auckland. The saving grace in the end was the phone call we received on the way to let us know our bag had been found and would be returned to us later that night. This view from our apartment also made up for some of the angst of the day…
There were also issues with parking and a tour we were booked into on the next day but I’m not going to dwell on the bad points any longer. I’m happy to report this was the most challenging part of the whole trip and it was certainly smoother sailing from that point on!
I was proud of how we just kept going although it seemed that crap kept falling on us. We enjoyed a few well-earned ciders that night but considering the stress and strain we were under, I was proud of how we somehow managed to keep it together.
I’m more than proud of how the kids coped. Sure they were upset and stressed and vented those feelings accordingly but once they were settled in the apartment they left it all behind and were SO happy to see their clothes waiting for them the next day.
The first 24 hours were certainly eventful but they helped us appreciate the little things even more. We found we had more patience, more gratitude and more time for each other after that experience. I think this had a lot to do with our unusually relaxed and cruisy approach to the holiday from that point forward!
Do you have a holiday horror story? Care to share?
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There is nothing more difficult when it all goes wrong when travelling – it is amplified and every little thing seems worse.
Glad from that point on, it was all smooth sailing (better to get it over with at the start, than on the return)
Definitely Lydia – it was all onwards and upwards after that, thank goodness!
Travelling over Europe with five kids under eleven had its challenges but the worst was the fact that I realised they were all riddled with head lice when we arrived in London. I didn’t know if they’d even heard of head lice over there. Thankfully the Brits are very au fait and when I think about it the lice probably came over with the convicts in the first place and were merely visiting their rellies in the Motherland 🙂
Head lice are the pits. And to have them on holidays – that would have sucked Pinky!
No way that is a really shitty way to start a holiday but you seemed to have done okay! NZ does have a few cheaper department stores to get stuff from and especially near the Airport, things are quite close there. You did so well not to lose your shit, I would have. I’m glad it was only four hours wait and that things got better. So were the Kiwis friendly? And did you try many local foods? x
I will blog about the rest of the trip in the coming weeks but it was great after that – it was the low point, at least we got it out of the way early on! Everyone was friendly but they kept thinking I was Kiwi too – there is a range of accents so maybe I picked up a slight vowel inflection while I was there?? I was torn between being flattered they thought I was local and a little concerned that I had lost my Aussiness!!!
I’m glad the holiday improved for you after that first stressful 24 hours – I would have felt like sobbing after all that. We are thinking of taking a trip to NZ later in the year so I’ll be interested in your follow up post. I’m hoping since my boys are a bit older (with the exception of Mr 5) it shouldn’t be too bad. Fingers crossed anyway!
You couldn’t possibly have the same bad luck as us Ness – I’m sure it will be fantastic for you guys. It is an amazing place to holiday and so many cool places to see – the boys will love it!
Oh you poor thing! That is certainly a hard way to start off a holiday. I’m glad to hear that things improved from there on out though!
A few years ago I went on holidays with my parents to the Gold Coast and my bank account got hacked and cleaned out. I had to rely on my parents for everything which was a bit of a downer, especially as a 22year old with a child.
I wouldn’t have a CLUE on how to work a keyless car! Sounds like a rocky start, indeed!
Thank goodness that bag was found! Phew!
Wow what a hectic start to your trip! Glad it didn’t last too long and you were all able to move on. I was in Canada in 2005 when that plane ran off the end of the runway and I was flying from Toronto to Vancouver the day after…due to massive backlog of people and bags, I flew, but my bags didn’t 🙁
I had one night in Vancouver with nothing and living on a backpackers budget didn’t really want to spend too much on things that would arrive the next day…
What an adventure. We have this tendency for worst case scenario every time hubby is in charge of booking holidays. The first one we opened the door to our apartment to find it already occupied. That wasn’t the worst to happen that trip.
So glad you did enjoy yourself and looking forward to hearing more.
Heading overseas with kids is challenging. Glad the flight was straight forward. That’s always the first hurdle! We’ve had a few hairy flights that’s for sure.
We adored NZ however we only visited the South Island. Glad you got to appreciate the rest of your trip!