Queenstown to Sydney

Yesterday and today were flying days. We checked out of our hotel in Queenstown at about 10:00. Then we went for a hike up the 1 mile creek/powerhouse (as far as the dam). It was pretty steep and we really worked up a sweat. After the hike, we headed down to town to eat our picnic lunch. We had a ginger beer for the first time. That was interesting, but not super great. The wind was reallying blowing — enough to whip a spray off of the lake and into the air. We headed back to the hotel to pickup our bags and to catch the bus to the airport. From Queenstown, we flew to Auckland (via Christchurch).

We had reservations at the Quality Inn Auckland Airport. Their website said that there is a courtesy phone call for a free shuttle ride to the hotel. We looked all over the domestic terminal and couldn’t find a single courtesy phone (only pay phones). We ended up having to lug our bags all of the way across the airport to get to the international terminal (where we knew they had courtesy phones). After getting the special code from the information booth, we finally got a hold of the hotel and they sent a shuttle.

When the shuttle finally arrived, we found out that there was some problem with our hotel, and that we were being moved to the next closest Quality Inn (in Manukau, I think). That was ok with us, as long as we’d still have an airport shuttle available.

After driving for 30-40 minutes, we ended up at the hotel and got checked in. The first bad sign was the lift (elevator) — it was very small, had red carpet on the walls, smelled like rats had been nesting in the elevator shaft, and it moved ultra-slowly. Eventually, we made it up to our floor (the 2nd) and found the hallway to have a terrible odor too (this one was more musty than ratty). Our room smelled a little better, but not by much. The room was adequate — it had a clean bed, bathroom, and plenty of space. Other than that, I have nothing positive to say about it. We had an early flight and had to wake up at 3:45, so we didn’t spend much time there. One more bad thing was that there was a bar or something nearby because we could hear yelling and laughing throughout the night.

When our alarm went off , I didn’t really mind that it was so early because I just wanted to get out of there. We checked out and were provided with a taxi instead of the normal shuttle. That was fine with me: we didn’t have to pay for it, and the driver seemed to know how to get to the airport because it only took about 15 minutes.

Our flight to Sydney was uneventful. They showed Little Miss Sunshine, which we had already seen, but still enjoyed. Getting through customs in Sydney was painless, and with the help of another friendly information booth attendant, we found the shuttle to our hotel (Holiday Inn Darling Harbour). Since we got in at about 9:00 am, our room wasn’t ready yet. We left our bags and walked over to the harbour and The Rocks.

At the harbour, we found the Sydney Aquarium and went on in. It was really quite good. Since we were there so early, there wasn’t much of a crowd. We saw a platypus, a crocodile, an octopus, and a squid (oh, and tons of fish — including a mudskipper). The aquarium has these cool “oceanariums” where you can walk in tubes under the water. The first one we went to had seals, and the second had sharks and rays — both very cool to see up close.

After the aquarium, we walked down to The Rocks to find some lunch. It turned out to be farther from our hotel than I expected, so we were pretty hungry, thirsty, and tired by the time we found something. From there, we walked down George St. to our hotel where we plan to rest for the remainder of the day.