14 October 2017

My Antipodean Adventure: Four Weeks in Australia and New Zealand

I'm off travelling again today. Regular readers will know that this is hardly news for me; I tend to take one or two foreign trips each month. This one is special, however. I will be away for a whole month, which is the longest I've been able to take off work at one time since I started my career in publishing 11 years ago. I decided to take advantage of my company's sabbatical policy to book in a four-week trip to Australia and New Zealand, both of which have been on my travel to-do list for over 15 years.

I've been planning (and saving!) hard since January and booked my flights from and to London back in April, nailing down the rest of my itinerary over the summer. As always, I found the Lonely Planet guidebooks an invaluable resource. I used their 2015 Australia guide (there is a new edition coming out next month) and their 2016 New Zealand North Island guide, knowing that I would be focusing most of my attention on this part of the country on this trip.

A note on my itinerary and my decision to visit both countries in four weeks: I know that it isn't possible to 'do' either country (or even a small part of Australia) in one month, but I also don't know when I will next get the opportunity to visit this part of the world — after all, it took me almost 34 years to schedule my first trip — and I wanted to have a taster for both countries. Moreover, for me, one of the best parts of travelling is that sense of excitement and wonder I get when I first arrive in a new city. I love revisiting favourite destinations, but I'll never tire of the thrill of discovery.

Excluding my international flights, I have 28 full days and am splitting this time about evenly between the east coast of Australia and New Zealand's North Island. Rather than taking the hefty Lonely Planet Australia guide, I was planning to buy a copy of the more portable East Coast Australia guidethe new edition isn't out until next month, however, and I am very grateful to Lonely Planet who provided me with a review copy, which will be a major point of reference during the first half of my trip.

I have a packed itinerary, which includes several cities, the Great Barrier Reef, some beach time and a road trip around New Zealand's North Island. Being me, a key focus will be speciality coffee. I already have an unfeasibly large coffee to-do list for both Melbourne (my first stop) and Sydney, but to help me sift through the many possibilities, I would really welcome any recommendations — please let me know in the comments or on Twitter (non-coffee-related suggestions are also welcome!). I'm also on the look-out for coffee (and other) tips for Auckland and Wellington, New Zealand.

As usual, I am packing light: I am taking my Rimowa Salsa Air carry-on suitcase (frustratingly, most of my internal flights have a 7kg carry-on limit, which will mean checking my case), my TUMI Halle Backpack and, as a handbag, my purple small Longchamp Le Pliage tote. During the Antipodean late spring, the weather is likely to range from warm to hot (by British standards, anyway), and I'm taking four dresses, two pairs of shorts, one pair of jeans, enough tops and underwear for ten days, three sweaters, my Uniqlo ultralight down jacket, running kit, two bikinis, a pair of running shoes, sandals, flip flops and ballet pumps. Technology-wise, I'm taking my MacBook Air and Kindle, and decided to downsize my camera kit and take just my compact camera (I bought the Canon Powershot G7X Mark II a few months ago, and I've been really happy with it) and my Nikon waterproof camera.

I won't have room to bring much coffee home, but I'm taking my trusty Aeropress with me so I can brew some fine Antipodean coffee while I'm there. I'm also delighted to report that the Made by Knock Aergrind, which I backed on KickStarter some months ago, arrived just in the knick of time and will be coming with me. Alas, it didn't come with any instructions, so I'll have to re-read Brian's great review on the Coffee Spot.

This month is partly about giving myself a break from my hectic day job in the busy press office of a major scientific journal, but while I'm away, as a minimum, I am planning to produce one post about each destination I visit and one speciality coffee update for each relevant city.

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