Our flight to New Zealand would be at 19:00 this evening. The rental car, complete with Strine Satnav, was due back at around 15:00. Given the 30-minute drive to the airport (theoretically), filling up with fuel then searching for the rental car returns area, we had time to swiftly investigate Francine’s colleague’s local area.
Angela led us around some of her surrounding woodland. Being accompanied by three boisterous, screaming children is not conducive to spotting big game but maybe there’s be small game. Almost immediately, we came across a small pile of writhing grubs huddling together. We had absolutely no idea what they were and nor did our guides, who are not quite as keyed into wildlife, unsurprisingly. Whatever they were, they were about 4cms long each and grey-ish. The grubs were not equipped to run from children.
A short distance further on, Francine’s orchid tally increased by one when she spotted a Yellow Donkey Orchid beside the track. Orchids can’t run away, which is a distinct advantage for photography. The Donkey Orchids come in two colours so now she had the set, along with her initial Purple Donkey Orchid. It was a lucky find ‘cos there was only a single stem and we never saw another.
Mount Macedon seems to be a notable peak close by so our final social engagement was a car ride up to the top at 1000m. The views were expansive, of course, and showed scars from some of the logging activity that goes on here.
The journey to Melbourne airport took us to the back entrance on country roads and was blissfully smooth and hassle free. Refuelled, we handed the car back and had to wait before check-in opened. A bottle of white wine disappeared as we people watched to pass the time.
Finally, we got through the automated check-in process, with the help of a friendly Ear New Zealand lady.
[That’s not a typo – Kiwis pronounce Air as Ear. “Welcome aboard this Ear New Zealand flight to …”. NZ vowels are: A I I O U. “Detective” becomes “ditictive”. We’ll get used to it.]
There was an “inbound earcraft delay” so we got away 30-minutes late. I must say the crew were great and the 3½-hour flight was good, too. We touched down at 00:30.
The International arrivals hall was still awake and operating. Several phone provider stalls were available and we got a vodafone 1-month travellers SIM (NZ$30) for an old phone, just in case we needed to call ahead to book campsites.
A chirpy, chatty taxi driver got us to our hotel at 01:30, where an equally chirpy, chatty receptionist checked us in.
“Room 1014, on the ground floor.”, said the receptionist. “Go round to the right then take a lift”.
“Why would I need a lift, I’m on the ground floor?”, I thought.
“No, after you’ve gone right, turn lift”.
The shower was great.