Farewell New Zealand

Thursday 24 February 2022 – Auckland.

Neither with a bang, nor a whimper we leave New Zealand on the 18:15 Emirates flight to Kuala Lumpur; destination Dubai, then onto London three hours later. Six months and 24 days after we landed in Auckland and were whisked directly to a managed isolation hotel, not passing go on the way. We spent two weeks in that hotel and then the city went into a full hard lockdown 2 ½ days after we left its front door for the one and only time on 14 August. The city eventually opened up just before Christmas, almost four months later.

I’m not going to call the trip a failure as it wasn’t really, but from my perspective it wasn’t a great success either. Eleanor made much more of the trip than I did, which is absolutely a good thing, though it wasn’t really the holiday she, nor I, were expecting to have. I don’t really feel as rested as I should after six months away from work, and Eleanor worked virtually the whole time we have been here. I really feel for her, we both start working again in just over a week on Monday 7 March (how can it be March already?)

Of course this whole trip was blighted by the real and perceived risk of Covid and the necessary restrictions of the New Zealand Government, so it was just a case of unfortunate timing on our behalf. A part of me wonders if we should have delayed until things got better, but I’m not really sure when it will be a good time to travel again. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but ultimately I think we did the right thing in coming.

I didn’t do a lot of what I normally do when I come back to New Zealand. Not once did I go to Piha or Karekare and I only ventured into the very fringes of the Waitakere Ranges when I walked along Exhibition Drive, and I’m almost embarrassed to even suggest that Exe Drive is even a fringe of the Waitaks. Not having a car didn’t help, though of course I could have rented one, and did on a few occasions, and we were offered the use of cars as well, I just didn’t take those offers up. I never had the right headspace to get out there, though the few times the effort was made it was fine and enjoyable and not as stressful as expected.

Headspace and desire were an issue for most of the last six months. I have struggled with motivation and finding the energy to think about things, let alone do them, was almost impossible some days. I loved managed isolation and we made so many plans over that time of things to do when we were free, so going almost immediately into lockdown was a bit of a blow, and I underestimated how much of a blow it was. I definitely didn’t do the people I love and the country the justice they deserved. It will be better next time around, I promise you this.

Overall I’m glad we came, I loved spending time with family and I got to see plenty of my grandson and son, my Auckland sister and her two children and spend loads of time with mum. They, particularly mum, were the main reason I came, not going for walks in the bush or mountain biking or travelling around sightseeing.

We did get out of the city a couple of times and I very much enjoyed the few days with friends in Whangamata and the weekend we had on Waiheke. They were proper highlights of the trip and gave me opportunities to take photos and write notes that were positive and excited as well as just being fun times in themselves.

We took one final walk around Wynyard and the Viaduct last night, and I enjoyed a final glass of Man o’ War Syrah outside the park Royal Hotel. We liked it there a lot.

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We are looking forward to being home in a few (too many!) hours, and will spend a month in London before moving back to St Leonards where we plan on staying for a while as we figure out what’s next, where our next holiday will be and when we come back.

I’m not going to miss the humidity though.