After a long relaxing stay in Franz Josef, it was time to get back on our trusty green bus and thankfully with a new driver and a few friendly faces that we’d met on the north island. Today’s destination is Wanaka but it’s so much more about the journey! One of the most beautiful scenic drives EVER. You really see it all in this small section of the journey, the ocean, rainforest, mountains, lakes and luckily we had a beautiful day for it so everything was sparkling blue, white and green. We made several photo stops, each one more beautiful than the last.
In the morning we had an hour stop at lake Matheson, and while Guy our driver insisted we only had time for the short walk, we all decided that we could walk super fast and fit in the longer walk. It was unexpectedly tiring but the views of fox glacier and the mountains in the reflective lake were so worth it!
We also made a quick pit stop at the famous Thunder Creek waterfall, famous simply for the obligatory photo that everyone gets of themselves ‘drinking’ the fall. Then with the scenery getting even better the closer we got to Wanaka and staring out the window, chin to the floor, we finally made a stop to take some pictures of lake Wanaka and lake Hawea. Both incredibly beautiful (someone buy me a thesaurus, I’m running out of words!!) and the photos don’t even do it justice no matter how many I took!
Eventually we arrived at our hostel in Wanaka early afternoon. We’d originally hoped to stay an extra night here so we could rent some bikes and really explore but the bus timetable didn’t really allow and we are running out of days. That being the case, we were straight out once dropping our bags and headed through the small town to the lake and to ‘That Wanaka Tree’. Yes, that is the trees name, so called as it has to be one of the most photographed trees in the world, I swear it appears on my Instagram feed most days. After trying to get the best angle possible and realising that it had more leaves than I thought it would, it was back to the town for a beer. It’s such a cute town and set amongst such beautiful scenery. It’s overshadowed by its neighbour Queenstown which is such a shame! Although hypocritically, we had an early night to prepare for our five nights in Queenstown.
After Abel Tasman we had a couple of flat days where we didn’t do huge amounts apart from sit on a bus and stop for the occasional photo. We stop in fairly random towns for the night and find yourself drinking just for something to do! One of these nights is pretty famous on the Kiwi Experience as we stop in the middle of nowhere and every night is a fancy dress party! With bungee jumps and canyon swings for prizes we took this very seriously and went to town on our outfits! (Spoiler alert: we didn’t win and I still feel cheated)
After a couple days we arrived in the place we’d been really looking forward to Franz Josef! Most people only allow two nights here, but fed up of the bus we decided to mix it up and stay four. For our first full day we were extremely happy to wake up to the sun as we were off to hike on the glacier and it’s known to be cancelled for just the smallest amount of wind or rain. $360 later and fashioning some warm gear and boots we were off for a five minute helicopter ride on to the glacier. It was my first helicopter experience and to say I don’t like flying, I highly enjoyed it, with some great views of the rainforest and the glacier! Once on the ice, our guide Nathan lead us on a three hour hike through the glacier including many tight tunnels and caves, carving the way with his axe. Once we’d finished and I’d taken an average of one and a half pictures a minute, it was back down on the helicopter. I can’t even begin to explain how amazing this day was. It’s incredibly surreal walking on the glacier and is the most incredibly beautiful sight! Probably the best day of our trip so far and worth every penny! We also felt incredibly lucky that the trip went ahead as the afternoon trips were all cancelled and for the next couple days.
After a big lunch and a nap, we headed to the glacier hot pools that were included in our price for a relax and a girly gossip in 40 degree pools.
The next day, as most of our friends boarded the bus, we were happy for another couple days to rest and explore. Franz Josef is a tiny town but it’s so cute! Despite rain on our second full day, we headed for one of the many free walks in the area. We took a very hilly track that lead us to a very blue river. Being the adventurers we are, we decided that rather than walk back the way we’d came as the walk dictated, we thought we could find a shortcut across the river to the main road. Not the most sensible idea as we found ourselves clambering across loose rocks next to the fast flowing river. Eventually we found our way to the main road! At this point (and our stupid decisions continuing) we decided instead of going 1km back to town to catch a shuttle bus to the glacier, we would walk the 4km instead. I was beyond cold it was causing me pain and Steph had ripped a hole in her leggings and was bleeding from chafing. It was the longest 4km and no fun at all, I was close to tears! When we finally arrived at the car park and the start point of several walking tracks, we realised that we didn’t have the energy to do anymore walking, making the last 4km of pain completely pointless! We did an easy 15 minute walk to a lake before giving in and deciding to get the 3pm shuttle back to town. 3:15 came and still no bus, and no signal to be able to call it. The rain was really pouring by this point and there was nowhere to shelter. Five minutes after giving up on the bus and starting the 5km walk to the hostel, we realised We couldn’t go on anymore and we’d have to hitchhike. There’s only one road in this place so all the cars that drove past us soaked in the rain were just mean! Finally a French couple pulled up in their camper van and gave us a lift to town. Hallelujah!! Never been so thrilled.
Day three and the rain was still going strong so rather than venture out again, we had a chilled one in the hostel, went for a lovely lunch, did some laundry and went for a cinema day! We came out of the cinema to witness an amazing sunset behind the snowy mountains, a lovely way to end our stay in Franz Josef!
We had an early start today as we were off to the ferry for our journey to the South Island. Bags checked, tickets collected and long wait completed we found some seats in the cafe area and I had a full English before having a little nap for the first hour or so of the journey. Towards the end with just an hour left, we were cruising through the Marlborough Sounds with mountains either side of us. I headed up to the top outside deck and hung around for as long as possible to take it all in, use my new camera to capture to magic and try and spot some dolphins. It was a pretty cloudy, windy, cold day and after 20 minutes I gave in and headed to the comfort and shelter of my seat in the cafe.
We arrived in Picton, collected our bags and were back on the bus for a scenic drive to the town of Kaiteriteri on the edge of Abel Tasman national park. It’s not much of a town but the hostel is pretty nice and we managed a walk on the beach before the sunset. The next day was beautiful and our first real hot sunny day since arriving. Lucky too as today we had a kayak trip booked. Our guide for the day was Blair from Kahu Kayaks. For three hours we kayaked through the national park on the Tasman Sea, following the coast line of a couple islands spotting seals. At first the seals are hard to spot as they’re pretty similar to the rocks they sit on but you soon get used to that and they we could see them all over. They are so adorable and playful with a couple getting very close to come say hi. Our guide soon realised how snap happy Steph and I were as we spent so long with each seal we spotted to get the perfect photo. As we’re pro kayakers though it never took us long to catch up, seriously I think we need to be in the olympics we are so good! After three hours our arms were getting sore so it was the perfect moment to stop for lunch on a small beach. This was the only thing that let the tour down. As you approach this tiny beach, it looks like some tiny private paradise but once you climb the stairs from the beach you realise every tour group comes here and it’s almost too busy to find a spot to sit on and enjoy your sandwich. From here our group split in two, half the group spent another three hours kayaking back to where we started, but three of us donned our walking gear and started the 12km track back. It was a steep climb at the start but the views were insane and it got easier. We timed it perfectly too as we arrived back at the kayak shop at the exact same time as the kayakers. We were very happy we made the decision to do the half kayak, half walk tour. We were recommended the full kayak tour but I’m not sure I could my arms could have done another three hours kayaking! Also the views from the walk were amazing where as the kayakers literally did the same return trip.
Abel Tasman and the seals are simply gorgeous, we had the best day! It definitely helped that it was 24 degrees and sunny too. After a long day, and some achy muscles we treated ourselves to $10 fish and chips (beer included) and a night of laundry!
Back on the bus again for the next destination! After the disappointment of a rainy day in Taupo meaning not getting to do any scenic walks, we had a chance to stop this morning at the Tongariro National Park. The drive through the park was stunning with lush green hills and snowy mountains. We walked a two hour loop of Taranaki falls, with some stunning scenery and a real taste of how beautiful the landscape is in this country. It’s crazy in spring to be walking in green fields with snowy mountains behind! The weather was starting to be a bit kinder and at least waited until the last 15 minutes to start falling on us.
After a fairly long windy drive, we arrived to the middle of nowhere, also known as River Valley. It was a true New Zealand countryside image with fields full of sheep for miles, no phone signal and a cute homely house to stay in. When there’s not much else to do in the middle of nowhere, you drink! We had a delicious home cooked roast dinner (with Yorkshire puds!) and several bottles of red wine before the drinking games started and I escaped before it ended badly. We’ve stayed in a lot of dorm rooms in our time, but nothing like this. It’s a 32 bed dorm and is basically just two really long bunk beds so you’re all lying next to each other like a giant sleepover but with strangers! Bizarre but a surprisingly good sleep! In the morning people went off the do rafting which we would have loved, but we need to say no sometimes to keep to budget! While waiting for the other to finish rafting, Steph and I took a few walks round the area. One of these even involves pulling yourself on a trolley along a river and for me involved tumbling down a hill getting pretty covered in mud.
After a very rural night in the beautiful countryside, it’s finally time for a bit of city as we jump on the bus heading to the capital, Wellington. Wellington is another destination we decided to stay two nights so we can get one full day to explore the capital. We arrived late so had a free dodgy dinner at our hostel then headed to a great bar for a bottle of wine and a doughnut (doughnuts seem very popular in Wellington!)
After a bit of excitement with a power cut in the hostel at 11pm, we scrambled to bed in the dark and slept ready for a busy day. With cereal in our bellys for fuel, we headed to the Te Papa museum. Everyone we’ve spoken to has raved about this museum as one of the best in the world. It’s absolutely huge and after three hours it was fair to say we were museumed out! It is a great museum and very interactive, with our favourite section being the exhibition on the war featuring giant, incredibly realistic models of soldiers and lots of interactive displays teaching us all about a part of the war we’d never heard of before. It was about the war in Gallipoli in WW1 between the Anzacs and the Turks which claimed many lives.
Once our brains were filled with new knowledge we headed for a stroll by the harbour and back into the city to Cuba street. We’d heard Cuba street was THE place to be full of cute cafes. I was picturing something along the lines of a Melbourne lane way, which this definitely isn’t. There didn’t seem a huge wealth of places to eat either although I had a great chicken and Brie burger at one of the more affordable cafes. After we’d recuperated and rested our feet we headed back to the city to buy a new camera as mine had finally broken and went for a trip on the cable car up for a view of the city. We then strolled through the botanic gardens (pretty nice but not the best I’ve seen) back to the city for a final bit of sightseeing, a drink by the harbour before heading back to the hostel to warm up. The capital is nicknamed Windy Welly for a reason, and we were feeling very tired and windswept after a long day on our feet!
After a stay at Rotorua learning all about the Maori culture and admiring the Geysers, we were off to Taupo. Today was finally the day that Steph and I jumped out of a plane from 15,000 feet. I think Steph was secretly hoping for bad weather so it was cancelled, but we finally had our first glorious day since arriving in New Zealand! The skydive instructors said it was the best for a month so there was no backing out now. We stepped off the bus after several hours driving and walked straight into our safety briefing, nerves going into overdrive! It all happened so quick, we signed our lives away and next thing you knows you’re being kitted up and put on a plane strapped to a man! The flight was pretty scary in itself and it was so tense it made me just want to jump and get it over with. At about 9,000 feet they gave you an oxygen mask to help you breath! What?!!!! That scared me more than anything! If I need oxygen to help me breath at this height is it really a good idea to jump?! But while I was busy worrying about that, the door opened and we piled out one after the other in pretty quick succession. You don’t have time to look down or panic, which is definitely a good thing!
Everyone normally says that the freefall is the best bit and goes so quickly. Well that was one of the longest minutes of my life, stressing about when the parachute would go up and I could confirm I was alive! It’s a pretty mad feeling to be travelling at 200km/hr and given how unnatural it is, caused my sensitive ears some serious pain. Even as I write this four days later, I can’t hear properly still. My favourite part had to be once the parachute was up and you just slowly glide down looking at the amazing lake Taupo below, I even took a turn at steering before we landed and the whole six minute experience was over! After lots of exciting cheering and chatter we took to the cinema room to watch our videos back. They shoot the footage using a GoPro attached to the guys wrist and for an extortionate $160 it captures some hilarious moments. In all the craziness of the freefall I completely forgot what to do and made some weird motions with my hands! We were in stitches!
Once all the excitement was over and to abuse the good weather, we took to the lake with the rest of our new friends on Sail Barbary for wine and pizza whilst enjoying the views and sunset.
Taupo was also the first place we got to stay more than one night so took that to mean we could go out drinking and have a lie in the next day for a change! Originally our second day in Taupo was reserved for a 19km hike of the Tongariro Crossing, but due to high winds and rain it got cancelled. Instead we did a load of nothing, just a well deserved rest and finally a chance to do some laundry!
Next stop on the Kiwi Experience bus is Rotorua, home to the Geysers. Early on we made a stop for another walk, but by the time I’d put my trainers on and went to get off the bus, it was locked! Whoops! Must make sure I put my trainers on early next time! I wasn’t totally heartbroken as it was pouring rain so at least I was nice and dry when they all came back soaked through. After that it was more of the napping whilst driving combo before we arrived at Hobbiton. Much to the shock of many fellow travellers, Steph and I have never seen Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit so had no interest in this activity! Especially for the hefty price of $75. Instead we headed straight into Rotorua, to check in for our evening activity, an overnight stay at the Tamaki Maori village. This is one of the activities we really wanted to do as everyone we know that had already done it raved about it.
We arrived to be greeted by a man and a woman who sang to us before serving us with a delicious afternoon tea. It was then our turn, our elected chief had to thank them for our hospitality and then lead us in our tribe song (we went for We Will Rock You). After that we formed a little choir to learn a Maori song with some moves to perform later in the evening. Not sure how great our pronunciation was! Once our Maori guides were happy that we’d got the song down, they lead us into the forest for some tradition Maori games involving long wooden sticks. Proud to say I won! We were then shown to our luxury version of a traditional house (marae) to settle in and have a few drinks before being lead by our chief to the main entrance for the arrival of all the other 100+ guest and formal greeting in the form of a Haka. Once we’d been accepted by the Maori tribe, they showed us around the grounds telling us about many of their traditions, such as weaving, training, song and dance. By this point we were starting to get really hungry as they lifted the food from the ground where it was being cooked ready for our dinner (Hangi). Whilst dinner was being set in the main dining hall, we were seated in the theatre for several performances of the traditional song. They were all so talented and it was a great show! One thing that surprised me was how soft the Maori language is. You’re used to hearing it when the All Blacks perform their Haka, but taken in another context, it has a really soft, pretty sound. Finally we were seated and ready for the all-you-can eat roast and it was so delicious!! After several portions and desert it was our turn to take the stage in front of the 100+ dinner guests to perform the song and dance we learnt earlier. We made our way through somehow, although can’t say it sounded amazing! After the rest of the evening guests left, the group of us staying overnight took to the hot tubs with a bottle of wine before collapsing in bed.
In the morning, after a great sleep in our lovely room, we had a quick continental breakfast before loading back on to the bus to head to Taupo. On the way we managed to stop at Te Puia for a tour of the geothermal park. The science behind this is crazy and so surreal watching water and mud boiling from the ground. We were also lucky enough to see a Geyser explode, while we nibbled on eggs that had been cooked in one of the hot water pools. Before coming to Rotorua everyone warns you of the strong sulphur smell. It wasn’t the most pleasant, but not too overwhelming and didn’t put us off admiring the Geysers for a couple hours.
Next stop Taupo!
*the day after I started to notice red marks all over my body and realised that I’d been badly attacked by bed bugs in the village. Such a shame as it was a perfect night other than that. I let them know so hopefully they’ll be able to sort it. For the meantime I just look very red and spotty and am constantly applying itch relief cream!
We were up early and on the bus to the next destination by 7:30am. After a few hours nap on the bus, we stopped for a short walk at Karangahake Gorge. Luckily the rain was holding off for now and the scenes were beautiful! We got slightly lost and muddy on the way back to the bus but we made it in time for the last bit of the drive to Waitomo.
After a quick check in at the hostel, we were off for our fist big adventure activity with the black water rafting company. They offer lots of different trips through the famous local caves to see the glow worms. Steph and I being us opted for the most adventurous, most expensive trip they offer: The Abyss. Being the massive wimp that I am and even in my mid twenties and still afraid of the dark, water and small spaces, five hours in cave was my idea of hell. I was pretty petrified!
Along with three boys from our bus and three tour guides we donned all our kit and started the tour with a 35m abseil into the cave. I’ve abseiled fairly recently so wasn’t too scared about this part, however half way down you have to go through a hole as big as your body into pitch black. For several minutes you are hanging in the pitch black, on your own wondering what on earth you’ve signed up for! Once we were all firmly within the cave we headed for the next part. I was attached to a zip line, all torches went off and I shot off under a ceiling of glow worms screaming like an 8 year old girl. The poor tour guides looked very confused as to why I was here! I was petrified at times, but travelling is all about overcoming fears! After a quick hot choccy break, we grabbed a rubber ring each and jumped a fair distance into the water below. I was very close to opting for the ladder at this point, but I didn’t want to be that girl! Not today anyway.
Once in the freezing cold water we paddled along the water with our torches off admiring all the glow worms above. I don’t know whether it was the water or the welly boots, but it was so hard to swim! For most of the route there was rope to pull ourselves along but somehow I kept finding myself drifting from the group and having to speed my way back! Once we reached the end, Jack our main guide gave us a lesson on the glow worms (or maggots as we now know they really are). We sat in silence for several minutes admiring the beauty. Jack then announced the route back down the river was much easier as we all linked up and floated in the pure darkness. Being a cave, the acoustics were great and somehow I got roped into serenading the group! I was so nervous, but it felt truly magical singing in that environment and the glow worms are the best audience I will ever have. Jack also sang a Maori song to us (despite being a ginger English lad) and it was so good. One of the most surreal, incredible experiences, floating down a river below a curtain of twinkly glow worms while someone sings a beautiful song in a beautiful voice. So unlike anything I’d ever experienced! Shame we couldn’t take our gopro so I can share some footage with you! The guides took some photos for us but they were of poor quality and didn’t show the glow worms.
Once back at the starting point where we jumped in, we ditched the tubes and took to the water by foot. It was so rocky underfoot and near impossible not to trip over a lot. One section of the walk is even nicknamed ‘the drunken stumble’. Whenever deep enough we would float on our backs but that did mean playing a bit of human bumper cars and take a rock to the bum every now and then! After a long while (almost too long as I was starting to get really cold and ready to leave the cave) we stopped for another tea break. After a well deserved rest, it was on to the next sector, crawling through tiny caves! We took a few wrong turns but were finally free of all those horrible tight spaces where my claustrophobia was ready to completely punish me. At this point all we had to do was finish up and leave the cave after three hours underground. There were two options: the boring easy route or climbing up two waterfalls. They weren’t the tallest – maybe four metres each – but the water was incredibly powerful and we had no ropes and no harnesses. We just had our hands, feet, rock and most importantly some very experienced guides to help us and catch us if we fall. It was pretty scary, especially considering how clumsy Steph and I both are, but when your life pretty much depends on it, you hold on and climb for dear life! Finally I could see the light at the end of the tunnel to signify the end of our trip. We had such a good day thanks to the black water rafting company and I just hope I wasn’t the biggest wimp they’d seen that week! Very proud of myself for getting through it all without tears or a panic attack.
It’s fair to say that evening we were exhausted and only managed two beers before collapsing into bed. The following morning we woke with our muscles in serious pain and a few cuts to the hands but there’s no rest for the wicked as we board the bus for our next destination…
After an incredible year in Australia, the time had come for us to be kicked out of the country and start our long trip home. Putting off the inevitable England return for as long as possible, we’ve planned a two month trip of New Zealand and Fiji.
We finished work on the Friday, said our goodbyes to friends and packed up our lives once again ready to board a flight Sunday morning to Auckland. It was an emotional end! After many recommendations from friends we booked a hop on hop off pass with Kiwi Experience that will take us to see the highlights of both the north and south islands over our five week stay. The bus is a standard hop on hop off bus, with a slight tour bus edge. They book all your accommodation and activities for you so you’re spending a lot of time with the same people, but you are free to do as you please and to whatever timescale. We have five weeks and it’s going to be a slight rush to fit everything in!
After just twelve hours in Auckland, we boarded the big green bus to our first destination, Hot Water Beach where we would spend just one night. Boy it was raining and miserable! After an hour long walk getting completely drenched, we arrived at cathedral cove beach. We were meant to be doing one of the best kayak trips in New Zealand here, but it was cancelled due to the horrendous weather (phew!) the beach was lovely though and very scenic, just a shame it was too foggy to see all the islands that can normally be seen from the coast.
After that it was back to our very nice hostel to warm up, eat dinner and plan the next few days with our driver Lisa. Hot water beach is famous for one reason, at low tide you can go to the beach and dig holes in the sand where the geothermal waters bubble up through the sand creating a natural hot tub. Low tide was half 8 so we all headed to the beach in the dark, cold and rain with spades to dig holes. It’s amazing how it works, the water is boiling hot. Too hot to really enjoy the experience in a relaxing way! After twenty minutes or so we gave in to the cold and headed back to the hostel for some beers in the warmth.
As a keen Skier since a very young age, the idea of snow in Australia baffled me! So much so that my friends and I booked a weekend trip to the aptly named Snowy mountains to experience this! As we left Bondi in the sunshine at 8am Friday morning, it didn’t seem possible that in six hours we would be amongst the snow. We made a quick pit stop in Canberra on the way, just so we can officially say we’ve been to the capital, and eventually arrived at our cosy apartment with full on wood fire in Jindabyne. It was pretty cold but still no sign of snow…
After an evening in with food and drinks we woke early the next day to collect our equipment and take the hour long drive to the mountain. Finally snow! In fact there was a hell of a lot of snow, too much snow even. Years of skiing in Europe and America have made me a little fussy with the conditions I like but when you’ve spent a lot of money and travelled so far for one day on the slopes; you’re going to Ski regardless. I have never experienced anything like it! The wind was crazy, at one point us girls couldn’t even get off the chair lift as the wind was blowing back against us so much. You could barely see your hands in front of you, never mind trying to spot friends on the mountain or even judging whether you’re about to make a turn on ice or snow or even hit a tree. It was pretty stressful at the top of the mountain. Although the resort isn’t massive, the slopes were surprisingly good. You might just get a little bored after a few days of the same runs.
Apart from some sketchy moments in the awful conditions at the very top of the moment, I had a great day on the slopes and I left dreaming about working a ski season in Europe next year. Talking of sketchy, I think one of my poorer decisions in life came at the end of the day when I made the call to take Steph (a complete beginner) down a tricky blue. Steph and a fellow beginner friend Sandra had spent the last few hours going down the same nursery slopes. As it was the last lift of the day I told them to come with us on a proper chair lift to take what I remembered to be an easy blue run down. As the chairlift kept getting higher, I started to realise what I had done. Turned out that it was a pretty tricky blue, the conditions had worsened and Steph’s confidence was struggling after a tiring day falling over. The situation wasn’t helped by the patrol men who came and screamed at us for skiing too slow, putting Steph under lots of pressure causing her to stress and ultimately start falling lots! We eventually got down the slope that would normally take me about 20 minutes in about an hour and a half. Huge sigh of relief when we finally saw the pub at the bottom! Very proud of my girl for not giving up!
Most people we’d spoken to about coming to the West Coast and Perth mentioned that the highlight was the town of Freemantle. After five days in Perth we hopped on the train for a short journey to ‘Freo’ where we checked into our beds in the prison. Before you start panicking family, Steph and I hadn’t suddenly succomed to a life of crime, rather one wing of the old Freemantle prison has been turned into a hostel. One of the coolest and most modern hostels we’ve stayed in yet!
Freemantle is a very cool, young, hipster town with plenty of bars and restaurants. To best discover this town we bought tickets for a night of live music in five different pubs around the area, perfect way to explore when you’re only here for a short time. We also popped by the famous and absolutely massive Little Creatures brewery for a private tour and tasting session with the very eclectic bar manager. Afterwards we stopped for fish and chips by the marina, well it’d be rude not to! As we were there over the weekend we managed to head to the local market every day for a browse, before continuing our daily hobby in WA of drinking and eating.
On our last day, we headed back to Perth ready to fly back to Sydney, but not before one last explore of the city with brunch at a cute café and heading to do one of the most rated things in Perth, a trip to Kings Park. It was a lovely sunny Saturday and as we arrived there was a massive crowd of people. Thinking we’d stumbled across some exciting event we sped up to see what was going on only to discover that despite the incredible view of the skyline, everyone had their faces planted in their phones playing that stupid Pokémon game. This was our first realisation about how big a this game was, witnessing all these fully grown adults walking alongside their children aggressively swiping at their phone screens. It was mental! I’ve never seen anything like it, and changed our peaceful stroll around the park to something a bit more comical. The park however was stunning, with such beautiful views over the city and the river. After a long day of walking, it was time to rest our heads and feet as we boarded our flight to Sydney for the last couple months of our trip.