The time had come to begin the long journey home. There would have been time for me to get one last long run done in New Zealand; but I did not run. I hadn’t slept that well, though perhaps in the long run that’d help me sleep on the flight or maybe even switch back to UK time quicker.
As the time got nearer to when we needed to leave, James noticed that the Uber prices for getting to the airport were skyrocketing. Rather than pay obscene amounts we decided to book an airport shuttle for NZ$36.40 - of course as soon as we did that the prices fell to their original level. We’d saved ourselves about NZ$9 though. We finished packing and waited outside the hotel for the bus to arrive. It’d predicted that it’d arrive anywhere between 10:53 and 11:03. At 10:54 we were on our way out of Auckland for the last time, to arrive at the airport before 11:30, despite the prediction on the booking of it taking an hour to get there.
Check-in was incredibly simple, as was passport control which were the electronic gates again, and a very efficient security check. On the other side of security the options for food weren’t great - there were about half a dozen places to chose from, but the only one we could see that did something cold for lunch was the cafe where I got a ham & cheese croissant, and a caramel slice for NZ$17. A bit pricey for lunch, but it’d be hours before I’d get to eat on the plane. Fortunately they do have water fountains around the terminal so was able to fill my water bottle as well.
Of course it wasn’t until we followed the signs to the gates that we found that there were in fact a few more places to get food from - they’d just not advertised them on the signs. Mine was the last gate in the terminal before the section reserved for US flights; so that was where I parted ways with James as he headed to Los Angeles, and myself to Singapore.
In the UK it would now have been 01:00 in the morning, and I needed to try and adjust to the timezone as soon as possible. I figured if I closed my eyes for the first few hours of the flight that may help, and would then aim to keep my eyes open until on the second leg of the journey. Maybe that’d work.
What I hadn’t counted on was that the person sitting behind me would prevent me from reclining my seat for the entire flight. This combined with the seat in front being reclined for the entire flight also meant that I had very little space. I closed my eyes, and I think I slept for takeoff, but during the times after this when I closed my eyes I’m pretty sure I didn’t.
This aircraft was a little older than the ones I’d taken on my outbound journey, so the IFE wasn’t quite good. There were two meals and a snack during the flight - I ate a little of this, and kept an apple to eat when I arrived in Singapore Changi. This airport actually featured briefly in a film I watched early on in the flight.
Hopefully the second leg of the journey would go smoothly - ideally I’d want to sleep seven hours after going through security to the gate. I found myself listening to the radio dramatisation of The Lord of the Rings - a suitable end to a trip that included so many places where scenes had been filmed. Of course I never did manage to get that sleep.
Upon landing at London Heathrow, it wasn’t the end of the journey home. It’d be over six hours before I’d make it all the way home - I’d pre-booked a train for around 11:00, and landed at 05:55. I did of course have to get through immigration, and baggage collection, and then make it across London to St. Pancras. It wasn’t going to take that long though.
When I got closer to the train station I got off, got a danish for breakfast, and sat in Regents Park watching moorhens fighting in the lake. It wasn’t as cold as is normal for a February in England - I think there had been colder times in New Zealand.
Once I finally got the train that was it - this long holiday was over. Almost everything had gone to plan - everything that had gone wrong last time had gone right. Sure, James had injured himself towards the end; but we hadn’t really missed much. Our unfinished business was complete - it was unlikely I’d find a reason to return in future.
On the south island we’d not had a rental car for much of it, yet had covered 600 kilometres. On the north island we’d had a car for much longer, and had done a further 1250 kilometres. Though I’m not sure we’d taken the most efficient route around as it seemed like we were going back and forth a few times.
Now it was time to recover from the inevitable jet lag, and continue my marathon training.