Auckland is stunning. There are palm trees everywhere, and it was almost 80 degrees outside. Security entering Australia seemed bad, but it was nothing compared to customs in New Zealand. I was pulled out of line for additional customs processing. Perhaps the beard was a factor in all of this? It seemed that the primary concern was that I was carrying over $10,000 (NZD) worth of equipment with me. Anything worth over $10,000 is subject to tariff, unless it is used for academic purposes. We were advised that we were supposed to have contacted the chamber of commerce in advance to arrange tariff-free transport of our equipment. Following the involvement of a more senior member of New Zealand customs, we learned the program that made our travel arrangements has arranged for the transport of academic equipment without requiring advanced chamber of commerce notice. The extra customs processing took a significant amount of time, and we left concerned we would miss our next flight.
Then we dropped everything, and went for a jog. It sounds nice, doesn’t it? A nice jog around Auckland. . . Apparently Auckland’s domestic and international terminals are not located in the same building. In fact, they aren’t even adjacent. We were advised we had to take a 12 minute walk to reach the domestic terminal, but we could take a cab. The cab drivers are clearly aware of this problem, as the cab fair for the two minute ride would have been $25 US! What a setup! I suppose $25 is a small price to pay compared to a missed flight, but for our party $25 seemed a little steep. We weighed our risks and decided to walk. By walk, of course, I mean we jogged. A flat run is very difficult to accomplish with a checked and carry-on bag in tow, but we tried.
The jog was absolutely lovely, especially considering our level of stress. We saw exotic birds, palm trees, and cab drivers laughing at us. We jogged our way right into the domestic terminal, and to our delight, there was no line at the security check. Even more delightful, our security check went off without any trouble. Following the security check, we all took a deep breath and boarded our plane to Christchurch.
The airplane ride from Auckland to Christchurch was truly a sight to see. There are little islands dotting the ocean, and massive cloud banks with tiny clusters of peaks just
poking out the top! The ocean is a beautiful green-blue, and on take-off you could make out little sailboats around the islands. After dropping through the cloud bank in Christchurch we landed amidst dozens of sheep farms. We were served cheese and berries on the Air New Zealand flight, and I must say, the cheese and yoghurt (NZ spelling,) here are to die for. There were complimentary wines available on the flight from Auckland to Christchurch, but they seemed to think Dr. Furse had gone mad when she asked if they had juice. We are clearly a long way from Salt Lake.
Christchurch was covered in a blanket of clouds so thick we couldn’t see the island below us. Stepping off the plane was much cooler than in Auckland, but still very nice. I woke up with the sun, which happens around 4:45 AM here. There were dozens of species of birds singing in the trees outside our windows. If we weren’t so jet-lagged, it would have been heavenly. If you ever need a good vacation in November, I would strongly suggest New Zealand.