The Secret Diary of Adrian Petford Aged 39¾

Five weeks to go…

Posted in Before,New Zealand and Australia 2011 by Adrian Petford on June 27th, 2011

Things are progressing nicely. My Australian visa was approved within a few hours and I have also booked the flights. I managed to get exactly the times, routings and flight numbers I wanted and will once again be travelling with Emirates. I used Expedia.co.uk to book as I found they offered by far the broadest range of flight options as well as other extras which could easily be added. The last of the boring formalities, travel insurance, is also sorted so I’m now free to organise all the fun stuff!

In terms of a hotel for my Sydney stopover, it was between the Radisson Sydney Hotel and Suites recommended by Steve and the Holiday Inn Old Sydney which was favoured by Bevis. Adjacent to Chinatown, The Radisson as a business-orientated hotel were very quick to accommodate my requests for early check in (and very early check out!) whereas the Holiday Inn boasts a wonderful location in The Rocks area, right next to the Harbour Bridge and along from Sydney Opera House. Bevis and Steve have been invaluable for their advice on the hotels and what to see and do in Sydney; I rate both their opinions highly so it was a difficult choice. In the end, I chose The Radisson simply on cost. At around half the price of the Holiday Inn, still for a 4-star hotel, I felt the premium price tag of the latter was out of my reach despite the spectacular harbour views. The Radisson is well placed in the central business district, close to Darling Harbour and many of the attractions. As I plan to spend a day in both The Rocks and the central city area, I don’t think it’ll ultimately matter too much where I’m based.

Sadly I don’t think I’ll be able to do the Sydney Harbour Bridge climb on medical grounds, as I’m still recovering from an operation I had earlier this year. The Sydney Tower looks like it could be a more sedate alternative. The lengths I’ll go to for a good photograph! As well as The Rocks, packed with places of historical interest, and Sydney Opera House I’m also considering a harbour tour by seaplane. Bevis says visiting Manly is a must!

As for New Zealand, I’m still lacking that spark of inspiration which will cause everything else to fall into place. It will come in a flash at some point, but hasn’t as yet. Since I started planning this trip, there have been several new aftershocks from the earthquakes in Christchurch, so I think being based there is definitely off the itinerary this time around. Instead of starting in Christchurch, driving across the country through Arthurs Pass, then travelling down the west coast to take in the glaciers, Milford Sound, Te Anau, Queenstown and Wanaka, I may just fly in and out of Queenstown, from where I’ll still be able to do most of that. I also like the idea of spending some time in Wellington, going across the Cook Strait on the Interislander ferry and then down the east coast of the South Island from Picton to Kaikoura on the TranzCoastal scenic train. Kaikoura is renowned for its whale watching, which is something I’d like to experience and the rail route is another of New Zealand’s great train journeys.