Drinks. Lots Of.
I arrived in Auckland on the 5th January, having departed the UK on the 3rd. The thinking behind this was that my tolerance and occasional enjoyment of a typical UK winter lasts approximately until Christmas and then I’m done. So arriving in a Southern Hemisphere summer just as my friends, family and peers geared up for the inevitable January slog of misery, cold and rain did please me somewhat. What I failed to consider was that leaving my job + drinks + Christmas + travelling back to Glasgow + drinks + lots of goodbyes + hosting a NYE party in my London flat + drinks + more goodbyes + moving out of my flat + drinks (all within the two weeks leading up to my departure) = a very busy Caroline. Don’t get me wrong, those two weeks were so much fun and I could wax lyrical for several posts about what amazing people I have in my life, still, I was very eager so sit on a plane for a long stretch of time doing very little – and that’s exactly what I did.
Hello Tomorrow. And The Day After That.
Being a bit of a travel geek, I was fairly excited about my Emirates flight from London to Auckland. First of all, Emirates – could be
China Southern worse. Secondly, this would be my first flight on an A380. And finally, I would be flying on the brand spanking new Dubai to Auckland non stop service, only launched last year.
Conclusion: Emirates were fine. I flew Singapore Airways last time and much preferred the service, food and entertainment (a cheeky little upgrade may have persuaded me otherwise Emirates, but you’ve had your chance.), however there wasn’t really anything to complain about. A380 – for such a monster of an aircraft I cannot believe how smooth take off and landing were: barely noticeable! With 853 passengers on board, it did take a long time to board and disembark, but all generally okay. Dubai – Auckland non stop…around 10 hours into my 16 hour flight, I did begin to question my own sanity as to why I was ever excited about sitting on a plane for this length of time. This is a long, long, long flight (although not the longest in world anymore). And 16 hours is a long time to be sat down either looking at a screen or praying for sleep. It was long. However the airline did as they said they would and deposited me safely in Auckland, bleary eyed and keen for adventure. First thing, trying to leave the airport…
My experience arriving in Canada on a working holiday visa taught me that the trickiest part of entering a country on a work visa is convincing immigration that your intentions are wholesome and pure. Arriving in New Zealand, I didn’t even have to show a human being my passport or immigration letter. New Zealand and the UK have reciprocal electronic passport agreement which makes the entry process something akin to buying a pint of milk in Tesco using the self service machines. Highly anti-climatic. No, here the airport buzzword and number one priority is biosecurity.
Of course before arriving I did adequate research on the subject in the form of binge watching ‘Border Patrol’ over Christmas, and ensured that there was not so much as an escapee Percy Pig in my bags before leaving. However before I was granted permission to set foot on kiwi soil, I was given a somewhat half hearted sniff by a sniffer dog and asked to queue for 25 minutes upon declaring that I was carrying hiking boots. My boots were then subject to a very intimate examination, having every suspicious looking morsel intricately picked off before being doused in disinfectant. My boots and I were then free to go but not before one final scan of my bags.
New Zealand’s very delicate natural ecosystem has suffered greatly at the hands of invasive flora and fauna species, hence why such control measures are necessary. My absolute number one tip for anyone arriving in New Zealand would be to always declare anything that you think might be considered a biohazard (from a packet of sweets to football boots or walking poles). Chances are that upon inspection, there won’t be a problem with bringing the item into the country. However if you do fail to declare it and it’s found on the scan, it’s an on the spot $400 fine.
So having finally been declared bio-harmless, it was time to leave the airport and collect as many blue skied, sun bathed photos as possible in an attempt to complete my southern -hemisphere summer gloating mission ;-).