We got up early-ish, and got our bags packed. It took a bit of pushing and pulling, but we managed to get everything put away and the bags closed.
After a quick breakfast, we checked out of the hotel. As we weren't being picked up until after 3, we left our luggage with the hotel, and went back to Disneyland. We went through Sleeping Beauty's castle, before heading to Frontierland, on our way to New Orleans Square. The Mark Twain Riverboat -- a classic paddleboat -- was about to leave, so we got on-board and took a cruise around Tom Sawyer Island.
Once at New Orleans Square, we joined the queue for Pirates of the Caribbean. The movies were inspired by the ride, which has subsequently been updated to accommodate the movies. Despite being a boat ride, you don't get too wet, although there are times when you think you're about to get a soaking: when you float through the battle between a pirate ship and a fort (with "cannonballs" causing showers of water), and a smoke "waterfall" with Davy Jones' face projected on it. Apart from two small drops -- nowhere near as large as Jurassic Park or Splash Mountain -- the ride is straightforward, and very well done.
After that, we wandered through some of the shops, and saw several nice items, but managed to restrain ourselves -- after all, the bags were already packed! Juliette tried a churro -- tastes like a doughnut, but is just a stick with a star-shaped cross-section. We then went on the Haunted Mansion Holiday, which is based on Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas. Not particularly scary, but it was okay.
We went back to Critter Country to try the Many Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh ride, but it had just broken down, so we had to give it a miss. We headed down to Adventureland and walked through Tarzan's Treehouse, before joining the queue for the Indiana Jones Adventure, which was fantastic. You pile into roller coaster cars done up to look like over-sized jeeps, which then barrel down a track -- including an encounter with a large boulder...
After a brief stop in the Adventureland Bazaar -- where we failed to restrain ourselves -- we took the Jungle Cruise, which is another boat ride. Plenty of animatronic animals, and a number of places where you think you're going to get wet, but the best part (I thought) was the guide's monologue -- probably because the humour was much like mine!
It was getting close to 1:30 by now, so we stopped at the Rancho del Zocalo for lunch -- very nice. We strolled back to Main Street, having a look in a couple of places. I wanted to have a look in The First 50 Magical Years, which I thought was a museum, but turned out to be a show, and the next one didn't start until after we had to be back at the hotel for the shuttle.
There wasn't much to do after that, so we left Disneyland behind and went back to the hotel. We managed to get the stuff we picked up in Adventureland packed away -- amazingly -- and the shuttle turned up 15 minutes early, so by 3:05 we were on our way to the airport. We got to LAX about 4, and checked in. We were a bit concerned about the weight of our luggage -- we were just 3kgs under our weight limit at Heathrow, so we were sure we were well over our weight limit. Turned out that we were 8kgs over, but since this averaged out to 2kgs per bag, Air New Zealand didn't seem too worried about it. We wandered through, got a bite to eat. Found that my laptop had about 10 minutes of battery time left, and I had cleverly packed the charger away in my checked luggage, so we couldn't take advantage of the free wifi to update the blog.
We started boarding the plane about 6:45. The plane was pretty much full, but fortunately the person sitting next to me in our row didn't have any carry-on luggage, so we could fit all our carry-on into the same overhead locker. The flight departed on time, just after 7:30pm, and was scheduled to take 12.5 hours. I only watched one movie -- The Great Escape -- before getting some sleep, but economy class seats are not the most comfortable, so I didn't much in the way of restful sleep. I watched a couple of episodes of Doctor Who, and started watching Toy Story but kept nodding off, so I gave up.
We had some good tailwinds, and arrived at Auckland 15 minutes early. We took our time going through duty-free, picking up the stuff we'd bought four weeks ago, as well as a bottle of sherry (which Joy had given Juliette a taste for!) and port, and we got a good deal on a Sony Handycam video camera (which came with a free Cybershot still camera). By the time we got to the luggage carousel, there was only a couple of other bags apart from our own going around. We got through customs and immigration quickly, and got our luggage checked through the domestic transfer desk. (Juliette psyched herself up for an argument with the clerk over the weight, but there wasn't any problem.)
We walked over to the domestic terminal. We could have taken the free shuttle, but after being couped up in a plane for over twelve hours, it was a good way to get some fresh air and stretch our legs. While waiting for the flight to Wellington to start boarding, we finally had a problem with our luggage. One of the Air NZ staff wandered over, and told us our hand luggage was too big to go in the cabin (a load of nonsense, we've never had a problem fitting our bags in the overhead lockers of a 737) and insisted that they had to go in the hold along with checked luggage. We weren't too happy about that, but in retrospect, given the amount of duty free we were lugging, it wasn't a bad idea.
Flight left Auckland on time, and we had good tailwinds again, landing in Wellington 10 minutes early. We grabbed our luggage, found our shuttle, and were back home in Porirua by 10:30. We unpacked our bags (discovering that we had somehow acquired 17 stuffed toys in our travels), and went out to pick up the cats from the cattery. They seemed a little stressed, and after a sniff around, all three of them went and hid under the bed in the spare room.
We left again, heading up to Levin to pick up the dogs. It was nice to be driving a proper sized car, on the correct side of the road, on roads that had proper road markings and rules. After the M25, we barely noticed the delays trying to get through Friday afternoon rush hour, and got to the kennels just before 7pm. The dogs were ecstatic to see us -- Merlin tried jumping over a gate -- and haven't really left us alone since.
Managed to get a good night's sleep last night. While we enjoyed ourselves, it's nice to be home and in familiar surroundings.