A big thank you for all the planning you did for our recent trip to Australia and New Zealand, everything went according to plan and we had a marvellous trip. It took us a long time to recover from the jet lag after our return, and acclimatising to the cold weather here has been a struggle, but it was all worth it.
The Regal Hotel in Hong Kong was very convenient and a good place to rest, even if we found sleeping difficult because of the time difference. We landed on time in Adelaide on January 31st and our feet hardly touched the ground during our three days there. We managed to meet up with all the friends and family we hoped to see. Then we were off for the 1 hour flight to Melbourne. We really appreciated having a car to meet us at the airport to take us to the very convenient Mercure Hotel, where most of Graham’s relatives were also staying. The main reason for our trip was to go to the wedding of a great-nephew on February 6, which was on a beach in the small town of Grantville, (on the way to Phillip Island) 100 Kms south of Melbourne. This, of course, was an amazing experience! It was on a huge deserted sandy beach and it was at least 30 degrees!
We stayed in a wonderful B&B that night and then had one more night in Melbourne before going to Tasmania. We really enjoyed our week exploring Tasmania. The Hotel Grand Chancellor in Launceston was very comfortable but the only downside was the extremely noisy , free-standing, air conditioning unit. The Lemonthyme Wilderness Retreat, near Cradle Mountain, was a lovely place to stay, in the middle of a forest full of giant tree ferns. However the access was a bit scary as it was 5 miles down a narrow dirt road! We had lovely weather for our day exploring some of the Cradle Mountain area.
We enjoyed the varied scenery in Tasmania and driving was very easy. It was a long drive to Swansea but the cottage we stayed in was very comfortable and there was a very convenient pub for meals! Freycinet National Park was stunning. There were so many other tourists that we couldn’t get into any of the car parks to climb up to the Wine Glass Bay lookout when we first arrived, so explored other places, including having a picnic at a very scenic cove ( Honeymoon Bay) in perfect weather. We got to the Wine Glass Bay lookout later, although it was a struggle to make it up the very steep path! The view was worth it when we got there. The following day we stopped at some of the scenic places along the coast such as the Tessellated pavement, before arriving at the Fox and Hounds Inn. We were surprised to find ourselves in the Honeymoon Suite!
We thought the Port Arthur historic site we visited the next day was very interesting. The admission tickets were valid for two days and there would certainly have been plenty to see during two days but we were on our way to Hobart by the late afternoon. The Henry Jones Arts Hotel was in a good position, by the harbour. It was originally a jam factory! The hotel was full of art, hence its name. It was another comfortable place to stay but we were disappointed to find the restaurant was fully booked. We had forgotten that it was Valentines Day so we should have booked a table ahead! However the concierge managed to find us a table at a good Italian restaurant. Breakfast in the hotel the next morning was huge.
The flight from Melbourne to Christchurch was the only flight of our trip with a delayed departure so, after a late arrival in Christchurch, we were very glad of the car which met us to take us to the Rydges Latimer Hotel. We had been a bit alarmed by the news of a 5.7 earthquake in Christchurch the day before we arrived! It was well worth going on a bus tour around Christchurch the following afternoon. It was depressing to still see so much devastation in the city centre from the earthquakes five years ago, although there is a massive amount of re-building taking place. The Re-Start shops in shipping containers are still in use.
The next day we collected a hire car and drove south. We spent three days with a friend in Wanaka but stayed in motels the rest of the time. We were glad you advised us to book them before leaving home as most motels had No Vacancy signs. We went as far north as Blenheim to see my cousin and her husband and had a wonderful day on their boat on one of the Sounds. We spent one night in scenic Akaroa, in a waterfront motel, before going to Christchurch airport for our flight to Auckland. Arriving there it took us some time to find out where to contact the hotel for the shuttle bus (the help desk was deserted) and the first bus was too full to take us, so it took rather a long time to reach the hotel. It was a good place to stay before our early start the next morning. We were glad to have 24 hours in Hong Kong again on the way home. The journey home seemed long and tedious and it seemed very cold in England! We have plenty of photos to remind us of our wonderful trip and a few are attached.