Day 28: Christchurch - Auckland - Fiji
23 January 2010

An early, hungover start to the day in Christchurch. Left Prue and Kenton's place at 7am and headed for the airport. Drizzling rain and cold temperatures made for a very gloomy morning as we made our way through the Christchurch streets looking for the public dumpstation marked on our map so we could empty the campervan's grey water tank and toilet before returning it. When we found it, it was in a park which was still closed for the night (it was 7:30am) so plan B became going back to the campsite we had stayed at the night before last and sneakily using their dumpstation (we recalled how they allowed campervans to arrive throughout the night) and besides, we had paid to stay there one night and use their facilities... just not last night.

On to the airport and we waved goodbye to the campervan at 8:15am. The short flight back to Auckland in the north island was spent catching up on some much needed sleep. At Auckland airport we took our bags by trolley from the domestic to the international terminal (which was about a mile!) and joined the huge queue to check in to the flight to Nadi, Fiji. Again we asked if there was any chance of an upgrade, it being our honeymoon and all that but no, we would have to speak to the ticket desk. No one at the airport seemed to know where this was and we couldn't find it so we gave up on that idea.

The 747-400 was full, completely full. The cabin staff were even weighing all the hand luggage to make sure it was well distributed throughout the aeroplane. When we landed we realised it was mostly fijians returning from holiday judging by the queues at the passport desks, and so much luggage! I don't think I've ever seen so many bags with red 'overweight' tags on them.

Soon we were out in the heat of Fiji and met by a man who took us to the Denauru Marina and the waiting water taxi for our transfer to the Lomani Resort. This taxi had cost us £220 so we were a little surprised to see how basic this bus-type boat was - complete with front drawbridge, a la D-Day Landing craft. The 45 minute journey was a little rough in places but once we rounded the headland of the island and entered the bay it was much more tranquil. We moored up at the island's jetty just as the sun was setting and the heat beginning to ease. We had left Christchurch in quite cool weather and certainly weren't dressed for the heat of Fiji.

A few minutes wait at the jetty and we're met by a man from the Lomani resort in an elongated golf buggy who took us and our luggage the half mile or so to the resort. As we pulled up to the resort reception we were met by two men and the reception staff singing a 'Welcome to Lomani' song accompanied by one of them on guitar. Everyone introduces themselves by their first name and we're given a fruit punch to drink while we fill in our details on the forms. Next we're shown around the resort a little (it is dark now) and shown to our suite. We're shown around the suite by the staff who tells us all about the complimentary services (laundry, water, fruit, snorkelling gear, kayaks, sailing dinghys etc) and leaves us to get changed for dinner.

Choosing only a small dinner as we had eaten on the plane, we both had pan-fried snapper in a ginger sauce which was excellent, all while the guitarist and singer sang some gentle songs for us all to eat by. After dinner we sat with some of the other guests and the resort manager who were drinking and chatting while sampling 'Kava', a drink made locally by pounding and grinding a special herbal root. Supposedly with some anesthetic effects, there is a little ritual in drinking it. First you must clap your hands and say 'Bula' (hello), then drink the Kava in one go and clapp a further three times. We joined in for a few cups - it looked and tasted like dirty dishwater but there was a slight numbing effect of the mouth. Rosie, one of the other guests did start having trouble with her words after five cups of Kava but that could have been down to the alcohol she had been drinking. At 11:30pm we collapsed into the huge bed wondering what the resort might look like in daylight...

The water taxi ride
Moonrise over the resort's Jetty
The pool at the resort
The resort restaurant
Flowers decorate everything at Lomani