A funny thing happened on the way to Oklahoma City, where I hoped to spend our summer 2018 holiday chasing new counties. The family overruled me. My wife pointed out that our older son will be on his own soon. He’ll be off to college in a couple of years. Opportunities for family vacations will fade as he navigates class schedules, internships, and frankly things that he will rather do without us. We won’t be empty nesters for awhile although I guess my wife felt the tug of time and wanted to take one more big vacation with the whole family. She asked him where he wanted to go, and apparently he misheard me when I whispered Oklahoma because he said Australia. Actually he said, "Really? Oklahoma? When I can go anywhere in the world?" Then he rolled his eyes.
I’ve been to Australia so I wanted to go somewhere new. I did manage to wrangle a concession out of the transaction. Could we stop in New Zealand too since we’d be all the way out there already? The family agreed so sometime in June / July we’ll spend a week in New Zealand and a week in Australia. That falls right in the middle of southern hemispheric winter. Unfortunately, schedules pushed us that way so we didn’t have much choice. I know the deal and I’ll dress appropriately. I won’t be one of those American tourists hopping off the plane in shorts and a T-shirt expecting beach weather.
Now I need your advice. Several 12MC readers live in those countries and others of you have undoubtedly traveled there. I’ll outline the basic plan and maybe readers can offer some suggestions.
Hobbiton. Photo by othree on Flickr (cc)
The New Zealand portion of our journey will focus on Auckland with various day-trips on the North Island. I suspect we’ll take a ferry to at least one of the nearby islands in the Hauraki Gulf (map). We’ll probably have to stop at the Hobbiton Movie Set because every New Zealand visit now requires a Lord of the Rings encounter. I think it’s a law. Geothermal activity at Rotorua also remains high on the potential list as does Waitomo Caves.
Don’t worry about my driving on the opposite side of the road, either. I’ve done that many times before and I can adjust quickly, even shifting gears left-handed. I survived Ireland with the world’s narrowest winding roads so this won’t intimidate me.
Hunter Valley Wine Region. Photo by Lock the Gate Alliance on Flickr (cc)
Our stop in Australia will feel like returning to an old friend. Was our previous visit really twenty years ago? I doesn’t seem like it. Last time we focused on Sydney and Brisbane. This time I think we’ll stick primarily with Sidney and then head up the coast towards Newcastle and the Hunter Valley. Longtime readers will understand the reason. Booze. The watershed of the Hunter River offers one of the oldest and best known wine growing regions in Australia. Lots of craft breweries have located there in the last few years too. The kids can go whale watching or whatever. I’m planning to enjoy some wineries.
Of course, I can’t ignore Sydney and we’ll spend some time there too. We’ll probably do a lot of the same tourist stuff we did last time although it will all be new for the kids. Nobody will believe we’ve been there if we don’t come back with selfies at the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, as examples. What I’d really like to see, however, are those interesting places enjoyed by locals that tourists rarely see. Are there also geo-oddities that most locals might not even know about? You know, stuff worthy of 12MC attention?
That’s it. The details remain a bit fuzzy although the outline continues to brighten. My wife decided to put off renovating the kitchen for another year so we can do this thing. She’s serious. Nothing stops her. It’s going to happen.
Suggestions are kindly encouraged. I can leave the comments open only for a few days before the spam bots inundate me, so please email me directly if you miss the window. It won’t do much good after June 2018 although anytime before that would work. I’ll be sure to acknowledge anyone who makes a suggestion that I adopt. It will appear in a future article after the trip.
Thanks for helping fill the gaps.