Back to the Land of the Long White Cloud

Trip Start May 18, 2003
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Flag of New Zealand  ,
Friday, September 16, 2005

Hey, I'm in New Zealand again... and it really does feel like I never left! From the moment I arrived at Auckland International Airport I have been in a perpetual state of deja vu. It seems that nothing has changed since I've been away. As if the whole city has been kept in some kind of suspended animation while I toured Australia.

Coming back to my old flat and seeing familiar faces again is very comforting. After camping along the West Coast of Australia and sleeping in random boats, buses, tents and hostels on the East Coast there is nothing quite as luxurious as having a comfortable familiar bedroom again. Even if I have to remind the cats that they no longer have exclusive rights to it!

The flight from Brisbane to Auckland went without a hitch, except for a bit of an unexpected obstacle with Visas. The staff at the Brisbane QANTAS check-in desk wanted to see my round-the-world ticket showing a flight out of New Zealand before they would check me onto the flight to Auckland, which was due to depart in just over an hour and a half. Despite having entered New Zealand from an international location twice before without an onward ticket I was now being told that there was no way I would be allowed on the plane without said ticket. They suggested that I visit the customer service desk, so off I went.

The staff at QANTAS Customer Services seemed to be familiar with this situation. "We get this all the time" was the line they kept using. The best work around they could offer was to sell me a ticket, which I could then refund tomorrow from New Zealand; minus the $55 administration fee of course.

At first they insisted that I had to buy a one way ticket from New Zealand to where my passport was issued, i.e. the UK. This was going to cost over $3300. When I suggested that a flight to somewhere like Singapore (where I did not require a VISA) would be cheaper they reluctantly consulted their Visa Regulations manual to see if I knew what I was talking about. After that they also had to check with their supervisor, naturally.

So I managed to board the plane eventually with thirty minutes to spare, albeit $1166 lighter on my wallet with a one way ticket to Singapore that I'm hoping I can refund tomorrow. On arrival at New Zealand Immigration they did in fact ask to see an onward ticket; so the whole exercise was not pointless in the end.

Morals of this story:

1) Always check the immigration requirements of your destination country.
2) Always have the means to buy yourself a plane ticket, you never know when you might need to.
3) Unless you have more money then sense, don't believe everything they tell you at airport customer service desks.
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