Hello New Zealand!

Trip Start May 20, 2010
1
69
195
Trip End Sep 05, 2011


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Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Thursday, November 18, 2010

DOMINIQUE HERE:

Day : 188
Temperature : 24 degrees
Weather : Clear and sunny

It's a new day, it’s a new country, it’s a new continent…it’s Neeewww Zeealaaand!!!! Wooo hooo!

As you can tell we are super excited to be here.  But let’s just recap on how we arrived.  We left Bangkok mid afternoon on the skytrain going to the airport. We arrived nice and early for check in. You can imagine our surprise when we were then not allowed to check-in because we did not have an onward ticket out of New Zealand! Slight panic then ensued as we rushed to buy internet access and scanned all the airline websites for some reasonably priced tickets out of New Zealand in the direction that we are headed. Half an hour later, we had successfully bought ourselves one way tickets to Rarotonga….yes, Rarotonga!  That will be in the Cook Islands, South Pacific. Should be interesting then! At least it is vaguely in the direction of South America. Another 15 minutes later and we had successfully checked in at the Emirates desk and were now sitting "on the other side" of the security checks.

We managed to get emergency exit seats on the fancy Boeing 777, and we settled in for our overnight flight. I have to say at this point that we really do like flying Emirates. Comfy seats, pillows, soft fluffy blankets, eye masks, socks, and even your own toothbrush.  Your own tv screen with a gazillion games, music channels, documentaries, tv dramas and movies which you can watch when you want and pause them when your dinner arrives.  I managed to watch 3 movies during the 9 hour flight. We didn’t make use of the telephone or internet / email access though….but it was tempting . And just to make your night flight more realistic, the roof of the cabin twinkles with thousands of “stars”…tiny little pin prick holes in the ceiling through which incredibly bright lights sparkles through…giving a starry night sky effect.  I thought this was particularly cool.

It was still a night flight however, and I managed to get zero sleep and Kevin managed only a couple of hours. We arrived in Sydney in the early morning.  We disembarked, sat in the departure lounge twenty minutes, and then boarded the plane again. We were sitting on the right hand side of the plane (actually we weren’t, but the plane was only half full, so we moved seats) and this afforded us spectacular views of Sydney. I must say it looks absolutely stunning from the air. It was a beautiful morning and we could clearly see The Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.  Wow!  I was, at this point, definitely having doubts about our decision to fly straight to New Zealand. Maybe we should have stopped in Oz, even just for a short time.  And then two hours later we flew over the west coast of New Zealand, and all my doubts disappeared.  What an amazing entry into a country. We had magnificent views of the rugged west coast and the snow capped mountains just behind. We could clearly see Mount Cook as it towered over the island.  In the lush, green valleys below, turquoise rivers snaked their way to the sea. Yes, New Zealand was not going to disappoint.

We landed in Christchurch having checked just about every box on the declaration form…yes, we’d been in contact with animals recently. Yes, we’d been in forested areas recently. Yes, we had scuba diving equipment. Yes, we had dirty walking boots. Yes, we had medicines. Yes, we had food, and yes, some of it was dairy. We were directed to the “check these people thoroughly“ channel , where we reviewed what we did and didn’t have with a very friendly customs officer…why can’t customs officers be this friendly the world over? Our boots were taken away to be disinfected and cleaned, and then were returned 10 minutes later. We passed our luggage through the x-ray machine and proceeded to immigration where we were met with another friendly officer, whose first words were, “ Hi there guys! How are you both doing today?” How nice. How civilised. How friendly.

We left the airport and headed to the public bus. Before reaching it, we stumbled across the Shuttle Bus, and the driver informed us that the public bus was $7.50, but for $10 each he will drop us outside the front door of the hotel of our choice. Kevin had to make the crack at this point, when the driver asked where our hotel was, and Kevin replied “Auckland”!  I think it was the lack of sleep that was sending us both doolally, as I instantly burst into laughter, cracking up, and the bus driver looked at us completely confused. We checked into a motel for the night, went into town to get some food, then collapsed totally exhausted. We’d done well to last until 8pm. 
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