Saturday, September 23, 2006

Onward to New Zealand

Because we'd had our onward flights brought forward we needed to get the tickets revalidated at the airport. For that reason we asked our Perth hotel to book a reasonably early bus to the airport. We wasted the early part of the day just mooching about in the centre of Perth watching the people go by. We were relieved when the bus turned up and it was a different driver than we'd had on the way into Perth. Neither of us were in the mood for his over jolly bantering and Little Britain impressions.

At the airport we located the Air New Zealand office only to be told that they would sort it out downstairs when check-in opened, so we needn't have come over so early. Oh well, we weren't the only ones. After having a coffee we wandered down to the check-in desk to see a fairly large queue already waiting. The flight wasn't for another three hours. The revalidation was painless, the nice woman just writing on a sticker and sticking it over our tickets. The plane was late arriving because of engineering difficulties at Auckland. It was cleaned and we were allowed to board. As we found our seats Gemma's face dropped. 'There's no seat-back screen,' she said looking rather glum. 'My god, no Nintendo, is this the 80's or something,' was my response. On Air New Zealand economy class its a big screen up at the front and you watch what they play. I looked in the magazine and found that the film would be Nacho Libre. Fine, except that we saw it at the cinema in Kota Kinabalu a couple of weeks beforehand.

The captain announced that Perth's engineers weren't happy, we could be waiting an hour on the tarmac. He told the flight attendants to open the bar while we waited. Unfortunately Perth airports engineering team obviously know the hitting it with a spanner technique, because ten minutes later we were told we would be on our way. The bar was cancelled, much to the dismay of the majority of passengers, myself included. If the truth be told I was almost hoping for a cancellation leading to being put up in a nice hotel and fed for a night or two.

I have complained enough about flights in general and overnight flights in particular so I won't go too much into it other than to say I spent the 6 ½ hours trying unsuccessfully to find a comfortable position for my head. Needless to say not much sleeping occurred.

Although our bags had been tagged through to Christchurch, because Auckland was our first port of entry, we had to collect them and clear immigration and customs. New Zealand clearances are, if anything, more in depth and harrowing than the Australian ones. The first guy didn't seem to like us much. He asked a lot of questions about what we were doing and didn't seem too happy at our lack of pre-planning. 'What are you planning in New Zealand?' he asked.
'Hiring a campervan and touring.'
'You have it hired already?'
'No.' At which point he tutted. That was typical of the exchange. Maybe we looked shifty.

The biological threat bloke, didn't like the look of Gemma's shoes in combination with the fact we'd been in South East Asia in the last 30 days. He made her take them off and disappeared into a little room. When he came back the soles of the shoes were gleaming and clean. Eventually they seemed satisfied that we weren't coming to work, smuggle or destroy the forests of New Zealand and let us in.

We walked over to the domestic terminal impressed by the sunshine but aware that it was a little chilly with it. A short wait later and we were flying off toward Christchurch. The flight was a short one with the only thing of real interest being the sighting of the snow capped peaks of the Southern Alps (I think), the stand in for the Misty Mountains in the Lord of the Rings films. It really was quite a beautiful sight, stretching out for miles of craggy white covered rocks.

No comments: