Friday, April 16, 2010

Welcome to Australia!

Goodbye beautiful Cass Bay, New Zealand

Saying farewell to our new friend Doug

Mike and Gregory waiting in the queue to check our bags

Interesting flight statistics (and other information ~ see below) appear on your "movie screen" on the seat back in front of you.

Times Around The World ~ Sydney is 2 hours ahead of New Zealand so it was 5:49 P.M. New Zealand time when I took this photo. ~ It is 10:49 P.M. on Saturday, April 10th in Los Angeles, California and 3:49 P.M. Sunday, April 11th in Sydney, Australia giving us a 15 hour time difference. (We had a 17 hour time difference when we were in New Zealand.)

Our flight path from Christchurch, New Zealand (South Island) to Sydney, Australia

World Map with plane position on approach to Sydney

View on approach to Sydney


G'day mate!
Our transition from New Zealand to Australia was relatively seamless thanks to the kind people who took care of us on each end. Our Scottish friend Doug, an 8-year New Zealand resident, gave us a lift to the airport on the afternoon of Sunday the 11th after putting us up, providing transport once we'd sold our car, and showing us around for several days. Just a few hours across the big blue ocean, in OZ (short for Australia), Aussies Margaret and Bruce were waiting to pick us up from the airport and drive us to their home in Wallacia about (60kms or 37miles) 50 minutes west of Sydney. We met all of these kind folks while camping in New Zealand and they took us under their wing and went out of their way to help make our NZ departure and Australia arrival "no worries mate".

We did have a few interesting things happen in the airports... The queue (line up) to check in with Air New Zealand was a long one so we were glad we'd arrived early. Mike spent a lot of time rearranging our luggage to meet the weight requirements thinking we would only be allowed to check one bag each at 20kgs or 44lbs. (vs. 2 bags at 46kgs or 101lbs on the way over from America) and we felt quite prepared. As we neared the counter we noticed "Departure Tax" forms and a sign reminding us of the $25/adult departure tax. Mike quickly sent me a couple of doors down to pay that, in a hurry, before we reached check-in. Soon Gregory came racing over to say I didn't have to do it before we reached the check-in but I was already in process. However, I needed our e-tickets to apply the appropriate stickers to show payment. Gregory did an excellent job as our runner and soon had these in my hand, meanwhile Mike kept moving up in the queue. We sorted it all out and came together for check-in where Mike, after checking 3 bags, just happened to mention that we were able to check six bags on the way over from America and wondered about having only 1 each bag on the flight from NZ to Australia. Turns out the 2 bags per person carried over for our entire flight because we booked all legs of the trip at once. So, at the last minute we decided to check 2 carry-ons. (Gregory wanted to keep his toys and friends with him.) As we walked away from the counter and looked for our gate we felt pretty proud of ourselves and then I noticed Mike didn't have his travelers wallet around his neck. He had our passports and boarding passes in his hand but I asked, "Where's your bag that you keep the passports in?" Thinking he'd be carrying on his bag he'd tucked the travelers wallet (with his billfold inside) in the side pocket! Without a word to Greg and I he took off. After some time he returned with wallet in hand and told us how our check-in agent stopped what she was doing with another passenger, gave Mike a yellow vest and took him back into the luggage area! They had to wait for the bags to continue through a scanner and come down a ramp before he could collect his wallet. Now that would never happen in America!

Our 3 hour flight (with a 2 hour time difference) went smoothly and put us in around 6:00 P.M. We enjoyed movies and a lovely dinner of steak pie or fish accompanied by New Zealand's famous Hokey Pokey ice cream and beverages. At arrival we predicted that we would have to go through Quarantine (in NZ it was called Bio Security) to check our shoes and tent. We expected it to go as smoothly as NZ until we realized that we'd forgotten to wash our tent stakes. They were caked with mud! As we waited about 15-20 minutes for the stakes to be washed I thought I'll take a picture and won't that be funny for the blog. The minute I took the picture I had the security guard on me saying, "Did you just take a picture?" She stood and watched me delete the last 4 pictures I'd taken all in secured areas! Oops!

You can imagine how wonderful it was to have Margaret at the end of the ramp to great us! We embraced and thanked her profusely as she led us through the airport to where Bruce would be waiting with the car. As we loaded the bags into the boot (trunk) we had another guard approach and tell us this wasn't a loading area. "Oh, we didn't realize," we said, threw the last of the bags in, hopped in the car and were off!

Welcome to Australia!

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