Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Auckland Arrival

Some minor plane problems actually made for a smoother trip for us. As we walked into SEA, a text message from United Easy Update informed us that our flight to SFO was delayed by three hours. No problem – a typically friendly concierge at the Red Carpet Club confirmed that we’d already been place on the earlier flight to SFO, and still in First. Yippee! This allowed us an extra half hour in San Francisco, which stretched longer when the flight to Sydney left late.

Having snacked on Spring rolls and other goodies in the Singapore Silver Kris Lounge (the international RCC closes at 10:30 p.m. and we knew we could enter this Star Alliance lounge), we skipped dinner on the plane and fell asleep shortly after it took off about 1:00 a.m. Brian set a personal record by not waking up until about 11:00 a.m. (Pacific Time). Those new flat-bed business seats are awesome!

We landed in Sydney with ample time to head for our 9:30 a.m. flight on Air New Zealand after dropping by their terrific lounge. This was our very first flight on NZ and we were looking forward to it.

About the flight to Auckland? We were as impressed with Air New Zealand as we thought we’d be. They kindly seated us in the premium economy cabin in the 767 – lots of room. A decent lunch was served (we both chose the meat pies over the chicken salad), complimentary New Zealand wines, and what appears to be high level of staffing – we counted three flight attendants in each of the double aisles during the lunch service. The inflight entertainment resembles the new United IFE. In other words, there’s a lot available, from movies to TV shows to games.

Other than the minor annoyance of being stuck in the wrong immigration line – the one apparently for stupid people who don’t fill out their forms before they arrive at the counter – we found it a painless process, and there was no problem either at Customs or the more stringent “Bio-Security” department with the oatmeal, coffee, and spices we were importing for use in our camper van.

The wind was gusting strongly as we headed to the Airport Express bus stop, so much so that our jackets were waving like flags as Kathy pulled them out of the suitcase. The friendly driver took our Internet one-dollar discount and discounted our return-trip tickets one dollar each for each way, making our fare a very reasonable NZ $40, or US $24.We were at the beginning of rush hour as we headed in at 3:15 (Auckland is actually two hours later than Sydney, so we’re actually 17 hours ahead of Pacific Daylight Time here). We arrived at our stop at the waterfront about an hour later, and trudged through the rain to a warm welcome at the Auckland Hilton.

We enjoyed an excellent seafood dinner at one of the many restaurants along a restaurant-row that we found along the way. It was also our first time to drink the wonderful New Zealand sauvignon blanc on-site, and the North Island wine we chose (we’ve only been familiar with the South Island Marlborough-region wines) was very pleasant.

Here we are Thursday morning at Wilderness Motorhomes getting ready to leave in our home on wheels for the next week. Amanda gave us a great tour of the van and also kindly let us plug in our laptop. We’ll cope just fine with the standard transmission – Kathy can shift with her right hand whenever Brian steps on the clutch.

This morning the sun is shining between the light showers and we’re looking forward to our adventure.

1 comment:

Dennis said...

Great plan for shifting gears! Next time we're in a manual transmission (on the left or the right) vehicle I'll have to remember that my co-pilot can do the actual shifting! And those seats sound more comfortable than the average bed! Anyway, enjoy the beautiful scenery in New Zealand and have a great time!