Te rere ana ki Ōtautahi – the flight to Christchurch

Inspired by my Maori colleague, Rana, I am attempting to get a better appreciation for native New Zealand words. It seems that I am butchering most of the vowels and all of the r’s.

Rana very kindly supplied me with a chart:

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I just hope that I show some improvement before I get back to work…

We had a very laid back travel day today, starting with breakfast in the mall, served (or not served perhaps) by a particularly aggressive but at the same time, apathetic, waitress, who forgot part of our order.

We arrived the the airport in very good time for our flight and progressed through customs quite quickly, where I received my very first body scan and subsequent search of my hair for concealed weapons (turns out I wear more bobby pins than they were expecting).

I was also irrationally concerned that we wouldn’t have access to the Air New Zealand Koru lounge but it was all fine, as it usually is when I worry about something.

I thought I had better find out what a Koru was (I had originally thought it was some kind of bird) but this is the real definition:
The koru (Māori for “loop”) is a spiral shape based on the shape of a new unfurling silver fern frond and symbolizing new life, growth, strength.

The food in the lounge was very satisfying – butter chicken or soup. And, most importantly, there was the ability to make your own pink lemonade.

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Our flight itself was reasonably uneventful. I watched a strange drama about redheaded twins featuring the actress who plays Sansa in Game of Thrones and an episode of Game of Thrones (also featuring the same actress, not surprisingly.)

As we began our descent, we could see snow-capped peaks peeking out from the shadows. Closer to Christchurch, the visibility of the snow was overtaken by fog. We went in blind ready to take the landing, fog streaming past the windows. It was lucky he pulled out at the last minute because all I could think as my life was supposed to be flashing before me was, “I better not die with the Game of Thrones theme song stuck in my head!”

Our captain attempted another landing, hoping that the first try would have stirred up the fog enough to increase the visibility for the second, but in fact, the fog thickened from 800m visibility to 500m in the time it took to turn the plane around. So, we were diverted to Auckland. At least they gave us all free movies for the “bonus” leg of the flight. I wonder if I can get extra frequent flyer miles because we technically did cover more distance…

We landed at approximately 12.30am in Auckland. I had the recurring drama with my face’s inability to look like my passport photo enough for the smart gate to realise that we are the same person and then I was randomly selected to have my very precariously packed luggage searched. We arrived at the hotel about an hour later. By the time we spent time in the queue of Air New Zealand’s reservation hotline (coldline, given the temperature) and got our new flight details, we only had about 3 hours of time to sleep (only about half of which I spent sleeping).

However, our new morning flight went smoothly – they even had trivia on the plane – and we arrived in Christchurch before we had actually intended to be awake on our original itinerary, so no holiday time was wasted and an extra notch was added to our travel post seeing as Davey had never been outside Auckland’s airport before.

Clutching the keys to our “snow-enabled” rental car, we left the airport ready for our Christchurch adventure, our breath fogging so much it obscured our vision, and questioning whether we had been too ambitious thinking that a pair of Townsville kids could survive a South Island winter holiday?!

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