Our first flight doesn’t leave until 7.30pm so we’re slightly in limbo.  Check out of Hotel SO and arrange to leave our bags in a secure place at Cathedral Square.  We grab a last delicious NZ brekkie and then mooch around the shops for a bit.  Take the tram ride again – twice!  By this time we know the tram spiel so well we could probably stand in for the conductor at a moment’s notice.  We stop at the Christchurch Art Gallery and have a look around the current exhibitions, and then make our way over to  New Regent Street which has quaint Spanish mission-style architecture and interesting shops, including a teddy bear shop with bears dangling out of the window – trying to escape (see photo)!  Evenutally we make our way over to the airport (by bus) in the early afternoon and settle in a for a long-ish wait – read and drink a lot of coffee.  At last our flight leaves for Auckland – it’s a swift 1hr 20 mins journey.  Auckland is surprisingly hot and humid in the early evening – it really has a much more tropical climate than Christchurch, which felt quite crisp and fresh when we left (like a warm September day at home) and at 8.40pm it’s dark already.  We walk over to the international terminal and peruse the duty free but we know we can’t really carry anything else so am forced to leave the lovely bottles of flavoured Absolut vodka we’d seen.  Eventually make our way to the departure lounge for our 11.45pm flight only to find it has been delayed!  Have a bizzarre experience when we spot the couple from Bath whom we met at Tokyo airport on the way out – strange that they should choose exactly the same return flight route as us!  Occupy time swapping stories about the places we went to in NZ and what we enjoyed best, before eventually boarding the flight at about 12.30am.  Strike lucky and get the front row of seats in premium economy so have loads of room to stretch out.  Watch some more movies and try to sleep a little.  We arrive into Shanghai about 13 hours later at 9.35am.  Shanghai is grey and wet and we find out that it is the only Chinese airport where we have to go through immigration and collect our luggage, even though we are in transit.  However, to be fair to the Chinese everything is run with military precision.  The Chinese immigration officials scrutinse our details impassively and eventually escort us to a separate desk to have our passports stamped – we’ve officially entered China!  Collect our bags and walk around the corner to re-check in again.  There is a beautiful garden right in the centre of the airport with magnolia trees and a huge bonsai in the centre.  Everything is immaculately clean and efficient.  At one point we see a group of Chinese airport staff running and we wonder for a moment what the problem is; then we see that actually they’re just lining up for inspection – just like a military parade!  We check in and enter the departure area – it’s full of the most fabulous duty free shops – each one staffed by people in identical uniform which must mean they are all state owned.  The shops are full of beautiful things – unlike anything I’ve seen at duty free anywhere else in the world.  They have stacks of finely embroidered silk pyjamas, teas in beautiful pastel boxes, gorgeous ornaments and hand painted tea sets.  There is a place where you can have your name painted in chinese script and another where you can have a wax seal made while you wait.  Am agog with choice – quickly check the exchange rate and try to decide what to buy then end up arguing about a tea service.  It’s beautiful – dark red with hand painted gold dragons – but the dilemma is not the cost but the weight.  We simply can’t carry another box.  In the end, reluctantly, I bow to John’s common sense and we leave present-less.  This is on the condition that one day we will return!  Wearily board another flight – watch more movies, eat more food and eventually about 12 hours later we land to a surprisingly bright sunny day at Heathrow at 2.30pm in the afternoon.  Clear immigration fairly quickly and then take the Heathrow Express to Paddington.  Get a taxi to Charing Cross and then wait for a train to Bexleyheath.  The train is delayed and I’m feeling really weary – it’s hard to concentrate and my rucksack is making me ache.  Eventually get on a packed commuter train and finally get to Bexleyheath – Mel picks us up from the station and we go to check into our hotel.  One more step before our final journey home to Norfolk on Sunday!