Kia Ora New Zealand!
The flight from London to Dubai was good. John slept a lot of it and Cameron aimed to get through the entire entertainment offering within seven hours. Unfortunately his plan was short lived when after three hours, Super Bad Mum insisted that he try to get some sleep before we landed.
From the aircraft’s cameras we were able to watch the sun coming up on the horizon as we approached Dubai. It was pretty spectacular. Dubai airport, however was underwhelming. Yes it was big, but completely unremarkable. The toilets were dirty and in some cases overflowing and much of the departure areas were cordoned off for renovations. Not that it mattered much, because within 50 minutes we were boarding the next Airbus 380 for the 13 hour 50 minute flight to Sydney and then on to Christchurch.
This leg was long, almost never ending. Eventually though it did and we landed in an overcast Sydney. After a stretch of the legs and a teeth clean, we were back on board for the final push. Point to note – NEVER fall asleep 45 minutes before you are due to land having travelled almost 29 hours non stop. It hurts you brain, makes you clumsy and, some would say, not very pleasant to be around, this was only some of the positive feedback I received from my travelling companions.
Arriving in New Zealand felt surreal. I had been here 16 years ago with one of my very best friends Katie whilst we backpacked around both islands over the course of 13 weeks. That experience had been nothing short of epic and we both learn’t so much about ourselves, and each other, having only met a number of months previously!
This adventure would be different in so many ways, but, I’m hoping no less life affirming.
From disembarkation of the aircraft we joined the immigration queue. 20 minutes later, and after a very pleasant conversation with the customs officer about travelling and Egypt (from where she had just returned on holiday), we were through to baggage reclaim. The queue for customs was much longer but it moved quickly and after our bag scan and confirmation that we had not been up the Mournes on our walking boots, the very lovely wished us well and sent us through. John was stunned by everyone’s pleasant nature – I was just relieved that first impressions were positive!
We were collected by Apex and taken to their car rental depot, just a few minutes away. The driver was just back from teaching English in Spain, and planning to return once he had saved enough travelling money again.
Our sat nav took us straight to our house without too many wrong turns. It was a cute little bach just outside of town in a quiet street. We unloaded the car and fought the very strong urge to lie down. After gathering some shopping from SuperValu, we found a Pizza Hut takeaway and ordered food to go. Cameron made it to the 2nd slice before literally passing out on the pizza box, John at least put his pizza down before losing consciousness.