Let me go back a few days and recount the story of our arrival here in Hamilton… We left for the Phoenix airport quite early on Wednesday to make sure we had ample time if anything went wrong, and good on us for doing so. When we arrived at the gate to wait two hours an announcement paged all who were on our flight. It had been canceled. Luckily we were bumped up to one leaving JUST THAT MINUTE. We ran over to the line and in less than 5 minutes we were up in the air, but our luggage wasn’t. When we landed at LAX we had to wait at baggage claim for roughly two hours for our luggage to get there on a different flight. But it was alright because waiting is waiting no matter where we were, and our flight to Auckland didn’t leave for 7 more hours.
Once we picked up our luggage we headed straight for the Air New Zealand counter to check it in. My suitcase weighed 49.5 pounds, phew!
After that we headed to the terminal to grab an early dinner at an overpriced restaurant and relax. During all this time our electronic devices were running out of juice and needed to be charged. Unlucky for us we were at the Los Angeles airport, notorious for its lack of outlets. There were two kiosks with outlets for the whole terminal.. but since it was early barely anyone was there. We stayed there plugged in for about two hours because we struck up a conversation with an Australian girl about our age who had just spent 3 weeks traveling through America. She thought Australia was boring but America was the best thing ever, and that Australian accents were ugly and American accents were awesome. I guess the grass is always greener on the other side no matter where you grow up. We had a good time asking her about her visit and the difference between Australians and New Zealanders. (She said to listen for the pronunciation of “fish.”) Before we knew it is was 9pm and almost time to board our plane! (She was on our plane too, catching a connection to Brisbane from Auckland.)
We were on the plane right away, along with a million other people. The plane was huge! Chris and I were in the Exit Row seats with about 4 feet of leg room, very lovely, with no one in front of us except where the flight attendant sits during takeoff and landing. The armrests had screens which came out and rested in front of us, on which had movies, television, a ton of music to choose from, and an interactive menu where you could order any drink or snack you wanted and an attendant would bring it to you. I watched Argo and Boy, Chris watched Cloud Atlas which took up quite a lot of the flight time. We were served dinner at around midnight (Chris had braised beef, mashed potatoes and broccoli and I had Moroccan chicken with couscous and carrots, and both came with a roll, New Zealand butter and cheese.) I finished up my movie and fell asleep right away. Being small definitely has its advantages on planes. I was able to somehow find a comfortable enough positions to sleep about 6 or 7 hours straight. I woke up to a baby crying, go figure. Chris wasn’t so lucky and only got about 3 hours of sleep before they woke us up with breakfast. Cheese omelets with potatoes and yoghurt with fruit. About an hour after that we landed in Auckland!
The Auckland airport is very inviting and highlights some of the interesting aspects of New Zealand culture. All in all the process to get our bags and go through customs went very smoothly. We even had time to change clothes and get a coffee before we caught our bus to Hamilton. We met a just married couple from Toronto who had planned a year of world travel and were on their way to Hamilton as well. They had some good stories and advice from their trip to the South Island. This bus trip from Auckland airport to Hamilton which we had bought in advance was only $35. Here are some pictures en route…
About two hours later we got to the city center and took a cab to our new house! We settled in quickly, unpacked, and Skyped home before our very sweet landlord came home and drove us around town and took us grocery shopping. Getting in the left side of the car as a passenger was quite strange and I noticed at the grocery store that everyone walks on the left side of the aisle.. (This will take some time to get used to). We got back to home around 4pm and it was beginning to get dark already! (It’s completely dark by 5:45pm.) Chris and I had a steak and cheese pie for dinner.. delicious, and fell asleep roughly around 7pm. What an exciting and exhausting 24+ hours of traveling!