Our New Zealand Adventure #1 – The First 24 Hours
It’s time to share the highlights (and the lowlights!) of our recent New Zealand odyssey. We spent 10 nights in the North Island and started out in Auckland. Despite a rocky start we came out of it stronger and it made our holiday that much better – but I’m getting ahead of myself…
The night before we flew out we stayed at the Rydges Hotel just across from Sydney International airport and despite the promise of a “Dream Bed” (and it WAS dreamy!) I slept terribly. I have to admit that I have never been more stressed and worried in my life. What were we doing, taking kids who don’t like change to another country? What would we do if they couldn’t cope or if we couldn’t cope?
I just wanted to run back home and take the easy option out. Thankfully we stood our ground and found ourselves in the International Departures at 6.30am waiting to be checked in.
Despite my fears, the kids were gold. They were excited and a little nervous but we had worked hard to get them as ready as possible. The night before we had walked around the airport and had discussed what would happen. As a result they enjoyed watching the bags being taken away (knowing that they would be there again in Auckland) and cooperated with the demands of going through security.
The promise of a McDonald’s brekkie probably also helped with the buoyant mood too!
The next challenge was the flight itself. But the judicious provision of chewy lollies and noise-cancelling headphones saw them happy and content through takeoff and for most of the flight.
The flight itself was fantastic. We flew Emirates and the staff were attentive and generous and lovely – I can certainly recommend them. The kids all received a toy and blanket for the flight and the entertainment system was top notch. We really couldn’t ask for more.
Our meals (special gluten-free ones, of course!) were yummy and the kids enjoyed theirs too. Even Gilbert, who didn’t eat much of it but thought it looked great and didn’t meltdown when he was presented with things he doesn’t normally eat! It was a great start and we were so relieved to have some of the stress of our first overseas holiday fall from our shoulders.
Our plane on the tarmac in Auckland
The sense of relief was not to last, however. Arriving in Auckland we discovered one of our bags had gone missing. Unfortunately it was the kids bag. And Gilbert became absolutely distraught when he found that out.
After an exhaustive search by airport staff, we lodged a claim for the bag and decided to finally get moving so we could settle the kids (esp. Gilbert) after the flight. We just wanted to get out of the airport and start our holiday afresh.
First stop was the Europcar rental kiosk where we went to sort out our rental car. After the fear of God was put into us by the rental officer (oh, the pressure of renting a newly minted car!) I asked about the booster seat that was ordered for Delilah. Apparently no booster seat had been ordered and there were none available.
Crap. Without a way to transport Delilah legally in the car, we were officially stuck at the airport…
So we set the kids up at McDonalds (to calm and distract them) while I tried my luck finding a booster seat for hire somewhere in the airport. Unfortunately I had no such luck so I was given directions to the nearest shopping centre and hoped to find something to buy so we could finally be free of the airport!
To lighten Nathan’s load, I took Matilda with me for the ride. I faced the following challenges:
First challenge, was finding the car.
Second challenge was opening the car (it had keyless entry).
Third challenge was to start the car (not that straightforward in a keyless entry car).
Fourth challenge was navigating safely out of the airport while trying not to put the windscreen wipers on instead of the blinker!
Fifth challenge was following the directions correctly and finding the shopping centre.
Sixth challenge was locking the car (apparently you can’t check that the car is locked if you have the keyless entry ‘key’ in your pocket at the same time!)
Seventh challenge was finding a department store with booster seats.
Eighth challenge was finding a booster seat that didn’t cost too much (we luckily found one for only a little more than hiring one would have cost us).
Ninth challenge was getting back safely.
Tenth challenge was putting the seat together once we returned to the airport.
But return we did and the family was finally liberated from Auckland Airport after a mere four hours of waiting!
However, we couldn’t head to our accommodation just yet. There was still the little matter of finding clothes for the kids to sort out. Cue massive meltdowns as we tried to buy clothes to a strict budget with Gilbert overwrought because he just wanted ‘his’ clothes, not new ones. It was not the best shopping experience any of us have ever had…
After also grabbing some grocery supplies we FINALLY made it to our accommodation in Auckland. The saving grace in the end was the phone call we received on the way to let us know our bag had been found and would be returned to us later that night. This view from our apartment also made up for some of the angst of the day…
There were also issues with parking and a tour we were booked into on the next day but I’m not going to dwell on the bad points any longer. I’m happy to report this was the most challenging part of the whole trip and it was certainly smoother sailing from that point on!
I was proud of how we just kept going although it seemed that crap kept falling on us. We enjoyed a few well-earned ciders that night but considering the stress and strain we were under, I was proud of how we somehow managed to keep it together.
I’m more than proud of how the kids coped. Sure they were upset and stressed and vented those feelings accordingly but once they were settled in the apartment they left it all behind and were SO happy to see their clothes waiting for them the next day.
The first 24 hours were certainly eventful but they helped us appreciate the little things even more. We found we had more patience, more gratitude and more time for each other after that experience. I think this had a lot to do with our unusually relaxed and cruisy approach to the holiday from that point forward!
Do you have a holiday horror story? Care to share?
Flogging my blog with the awesome Grace!
Do you want to become a more positive special needs parent?
Sign up to grab your free guide now! Full of practical advice from a fellow special needs parent.