We booked a shuttle to pick us up about 0915 Thursday here, that gets us to Chch airport by 1130, then a 1335 flight to Wgtn. Looking at prices of buses and ferries (not even considering we might have to stay another night somewhere), it was cost effective to fly. All the booking went fine - borrowed the hotel phone to ring West Coast Shuttles to confirm that they can pick us up at the hotel and then booked that online. AirNZ flights were readily available and not too exorbitant for a last minute booking! Our main concern was that cyclone Cook was coming down the country and might impact flights - but what can you do?!
We had lunch and dinner at the hotel and did more internetty stuff up there. Organised gear in our room and did a bit of reading (as mentioned, wifi doesn’t reach the units) and just generally rested up :-) Our unit was relatively spacious with separate area for lounging so it wasn’t a hardship - also allowed us to spread stuff out for drying. There was plenty of hot water so we were very clean by the time we were ready to go on Thursday morning!! Remember the phone I picked up at Aickens carpark? Well, I found the user account (it wasn’t locked) and emailed the address to see what we could do to get the phone back. It wasn’t until we were close to Chch and back in cellphone reception that I picked up the response. It belonged to a student in Chch who had been tramping up the Taramakau and Otahake Rivers - she was very pleased and keen to get it back (the cracks were already there - it hadn’t been run over). Long story short - Verina made contact and met us at the airport to pick up her phone. She was grateful to get it back, so a good outcome all round :-)
While the shuttle lady had said we could wait at the hotel on Thursday morning if it was raining (rather than at the roadside) her preference seemed to be the road. We decided we would wait at the road in the rain (wet weather gear on with ponchos over the packs to try and keep them a bit dry!). We were there just after 0900 expecting them about 0915 or soon after. At 0935 they still weren't there so I shot back up to the hotel and rang West Coast Shuttles to check. They weren’t sure where the bus was but said it hadn’t gone through early so shouldn't be too far away. Of course it turned up just as I was heading back down to the road!!
A two hour or so trip (from memory) had us dropped off at the Chch airport terminal in plenty of time. Apart from meeting Verina to get her phone back, we had lunch and wandered around to kill an hour or so. The bad news was that lots of flights were delayed or cancelled (cyclone Cook effects) - the good news for us was that they were all further north (Rotorua, Tauranga, Hamilton) so our Wellington flight was pretty much on time :-) We got away OK but were told halfway up that we were in a hold as 2 of 3 flights had just had to do a go-around because of visibility issues at Wgtn! Then two minutes later we were told the hold was cancelled as they had managed to land - yay! We headed up to Porirua (where it was reasonably clear) and came in from the north - heading into what looked like a pea-souper!! The first bit of Wgtn I saw was Evans Bay, just before the airport so we were lucky to get down - a round of applause for the pilots broke out - nothing dangerous, just everyone happy to be on the ground rather than diverted somewhere else!!
A taxi to the train station, followed by a train to Pararparaumu and another short taxi ride saw us getting home around 1645 - the end of another section of the journey that is Te Araroa!! Nice to catch up with Jacquie and Mark and the twins, as well as the dogs (of course!).
Belinda and Anthony (aka Tony) Hadfield made a decision, in their late 50's, to do something a "bit different" and walk New Zealand's 3000km Te Araroa Trail over summer 2015/16 - although updates will now tell you that this plan will take longer now!!. As the old saying goes - "don't leave home 'til you've seen the country"!!