The Secret Diary of Adrian Petford Aged 39¾

The day of departure…

Posted in Uncategorized by Adrian Petford on July 30th, 2009

The suitcases are packed, lists all ticked off and I’m starting to feel less stressed about planning the trip which means I must be ready to go!

It’s all gone pretty smoothly – the only hitch was Emirates’ web site didn’t let me complete the advance online check-in procedure, tersely telling me “Your transaction could not be completed. Please report to the airport and contact a member of airline staff”. Gulp. If I’m back posting here tonight, you’ll know they’ve decided not to take me!

Quite a lot is different this time – it’ll be my first time transiting through Dubai and Melbourne plus the 28 hour 25 minute flight is evenly split into three legs which should hopefully make it more bearable. It’s already been a big improvement being able to fly from Birmingham as I’d normally be chugging along on a coach on the way down to Heathrow right now, rather than relaxing at home with a nice cup of tea!

Four days to go…

Posted in Uncategorized by Adrian Petford on July 27th, 2009

It’s difficult to believe that at the end of this week I’ll be on the other side of the planet! That thought always leaves me in awe…

Steve has been in touch after I asked advice about how best to approach New Zealand in winter, which will be a totally new experience for me this time:

“Pack for cool/cold Auckland and bloody cold/freezing South Island. For South Island think Scotland.”

Looks like I’ll be needing those thermal socks Mom bought after all!

A week to go…

Posted in Uncategorized by Adrian Petford on July 23rd, 2009

My sixth trip to New Zealand will take place from Thursday 30th July to Tuesday 25th August 2009.

My itinerary is: Auckland -> Coromandel -> Auckland -> Dunedin -> Lake Tekapo -> Lake Pukaki -> Timaru -> Christchurch -> Southern Alps -> Greymouth -> Southern Alps -> Christchurch -> Kaikoura -> Christchurch -> Auckland.

Reassuringly, after five previous trips almost everything this time will be entirely new to me. Apart from Auckland which is always my base, I’ve only previously been to Christchurch and that was a few years ago now; I was also on foot so stayed largely in the city, whereas this time I’ll have a car. I was struggling to find a new angle for this trip when Chris (who I’ll be staying with this time) suggested taking the TranzAlpine train, a brilliant idea which caused everything else to fall into place.

It’ll be winter in the southern hemisphere which isn’t ideal, but I’m being positive and thinking of it as seeing the country in a different light – a whole new experience. Plus I imagine the Southern Alps will look beautiful in winter. The timing’s also significant for another reason – it’s exactly ten years since Steve and Cherie emigrated; I was their first visitor then and now a shade off a decade on I’m back!

I used to go to New Zealand for a month every year, but there has been quite a gap. I was last there in February 2005, so a return is very long overdue. I’m flying with Emirates for the first time, and that’ll also mean I can go from Birmingham which should make the epic journey somewhat easier. The long coach ride down to Heathrow always made me feel like I’d already been travelling for a day before even taking off, so it’ll be great to lose that not least because it also means I won’t have to suffer the indignities of travelling with National Express. Last time, on the way back after a 12,000 mile journey, their coach broke down 30 miles from home. “It’s a good job we don’t run an airline” they said. I didn’t laugh…

This trip became possible at terrifyingly short notice – only four weeks in advance, so I’m quite reassured how prepared I am. In fact this is the most I’ve sorted out beforehand for any of my trips despite feeling a bit “rusty” due to not having done any major travelling for a while. The internal flights and car hires are booked so there’s only accommodation to go and I’ll do that in the first week after I arrive.

So now I’ve just got to concentrate on sorting everything out so I can actually get there!