And so the day I had been looking forward to for so long finally arrived. December 22nd. I was giddy when I woke up that morning and it was horrible having to get dressed and head into work, not knowing if I would even be able to get off in time to pick up Mam and Dad from the airport. The morning DRAGGED past at work but we had some champagne and chocolates and swopped presents and got into the Christmas atmosphere. My boss kindly told me I could head away at 12 and I raced off to the airport with Kie and Brian. The arrivals hall at Auckland airport was jam-packed with families all waiting to meet loved ones. We stood staring at the double doors for what seemed like an eternity until they finally appeared looking tired and a bit dazed.
It was so good to see them and I couldnt believe they'd really made such a huge journey just to see me. The first hour or so was crazy with us all talking at once, bursting with news and stories. We took them to One Tree Hill first because it was such a beautiful sunny day. The Pohutkawa Trees were blazing red in the park and it really felt like summer, which must have been strange for my family having come from freezing wet conditions in Ireland.
Anyway, it would take forever to describe the whole three weeks they were here, but we packed in a LOT! We spent Christmas Day with my boyfriend Jonathan's family. They were fantastic and really welcoming. Mam and Dad really enjoyed the day and it was pretty cool to experience Christmas with a Kiwi family instead of spending it in a hotel or something. On 28th Kie and Brian left and we three flew to Christchurch in the SOuth Island. After spending three days there, we hired a car and headed to Queenstown, the adventure capital of NZ, for New Year's Eve. That was great! and the town was mobbed with people. We had four nights there but as luck would have it, Mam and I were smote down with a particularly vicious strain of the flu which hindered our activities a bit. HOwever, we had fabulous hot, sunny weather, and being surrounded by such dramatic wild scenery it was hard to be too down in the mouth. Dad looked after us, administering hot lemsips and hankies and slowly we recovered. The highlight of these four days for me was the trip to Milford Sound. The long car journey from Q'town was worth it. I havent seen scenery to equal it except in Patagonia maybe. Stunning! The weather was spectacular too and it made the actual cruise on the sound reallly enjoyable. We saw seals, dolphins racing along beside the boat, beautiful waterfalls and gorgeous flora. W brought some packed lunches and a bottle of wine with us and really lived it up.
Four days later we hit the road again, this time off to Franz Josef to do a helicopter ride over the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers. We stopped in Wanaka which was a nice little town and a little less crowded than nearby Q'town. The weather we left there was mediterranean. However, by the time we got to Fran Josef hours later a thick mist had descended and the mountains were obscured by grey clouds. It sdidnt look good, but we were keeping our fingers crossed for the next day. Unfortunately, next morning it was cancelled to my disappointment. I think Dad had really been looking fwd to it.
Anyway, nothing to do but hit the road YET AGAIN. We had another long journey in front of us to the wine country of Marlborough. We stayed in a little lodge on a vineyard called Straw Lodge and we had two very relaxing days being pampered. One of those days we spent on a wine tour of the region which was really enjoyable. We met some very nice people on that trip.
The 7th saw us on our way back to Christchurch with Mam and I making a two hour stop in Hanmer Springs for some facials! On the 8th we flew to Wellington (my fav city in NZ by far) and we struck lucky! UPon check-in at our hotel, the reception staff put us into an executive suite which was absolute comfort! That night I took Mam and Dad to the Malaysian restaurant myself and Steff were in months ago and we had a really great meal there. Wellington was grey and of course WINDY when we there, and I wished we had had more time there as I dont think Mam and Dad saw much of the city.
Off to Napier on 9th and they loved this! We stayed in a fancy little apartment down on the docks which was a bit lifeless but we were happy to crash out and sleep early that night. Was really feeling under the weather with the flu at this stage and wasnt looking forward to the long trip back to Auckland the next day. Next morning, though, the weather was good and after breakfast and a wander around the shops in Napier we took off for the 2 hr drvive to Taupo. We were back in Auckland that night by 9 oclock and it was good to get home again :)
Mam and Dad stayed with me and Jonathan for a couple of nights and it was lovely to have them there.
The mornign they left I decided not to go to the airport. They were leaving very early, but I knew it was going to be easier to say goodbye to them at my place.
The holiday wasnt over for them though. They were stopping in Hong Kong for two days on the way back home and from what I hear they had a great time there.
So, we parted ways again. I'm not sure for how long this time, but I promised that wherever I am I will make the journey home to Ireland for CHristmas again next year.