It has been just over two years since Bryan and I have returned from Europe. A lot has changed in that time – most obviously that we are now married. But the two people embarking on this New Zealand adventure are not quite the same as the ones the boarded the plane to Copenhagen.
Two years ago when we chose Europe as our cycling destination, I proposed New Zealand as an alternate. I had already been to Europe a number of times and I had, since childhood, always wanted to see NZ – a desire I developed secodary to my parents wish to see where their friend “Kiwi” came from. My parents have never been but hopefully one day they will put on their travelling shoes and go. When Bryan and I had an opportunty to travel this year over Christmas we realized that it was time for NZ. The idea of longer days with their summer was irresistible. Bryan and I do not mind snow. We just find the short days of December in Ottawa a little oppressive.
Unlike the last time we headed overseas, our focus of this trip is not cycling. We considered it but I’m not as conditioned as last time and NZ is full of my dreaded hills. And there is just too much of other off-bike activities such as tramping, kayaking, and ballooning. So it was with some sadness we decided to leave our bikes behind.
We had a debate on how to get to New Zealand. Well flying was the obvious choice. We didn’t debate that. But with the length of the flight and my past blood clot (happened after our last big trip), we did ponder buying First Class tickets for a while. In the end, we decided that the added expense was just too much and that there were other things I could do to decrease the risk of a recurrence. We did break the trip up with a stop in Vancouver to celebrate an early Christmas with my family. That was a good choice as I always enjoy seeing family and friends. And also, I think, helpful for jet lag as we were able to acclimate to a 6 hour time difference (plus a day) in two three-hour segments.
So after a snowy visit in the Lower Mainland, we drove off to the airport to begin our New Zealand part of our Christmas.
From Vancouver to Auckland, we were lucky to have a direct flight and have seats in the Premium Economy class of New Zealand Air. Bryan and I were surprised with how little it actually cost to upgrade to these seats. We weren’t disappointed. There was more leg room than economy, the seats reclined more, and the food was better and reminiscent of previous first class experiences I have had. The three issues I had with the seats were that they were no wider than economy, were still positioned 3 seats across, and there was a fixed armrest as the table was stored there. Our third seatmate was great – he took the aisle and didn’t mind that I had to get up frequently to take a stroll. However, I think Bryan and I actually were able to sleep on the flight. Not deeply but the 14 hour flight went by rather quickly. We feasted on dinner and then breakfest, watch a movie, played extreme sodoku on the entertainment system, and slept. Very tolerable. We arrived in Aukland at 5:30 am, went through customs where we had our pemmican scutinized and then okayed, and then made our way to the domestic terminal. We have a flight to Queenstown, the adventure capital of New Zealand and perhaps the world, at 10am.
And now we are waiting on a bench just outside the airport doors. The weather is warm but cloudy. It is nice to see summer and I am looking forward to the long days and, hopefully, some sunshine. It is hard to believe that I am south of the equator for the first time. My natural orientation instincts are going to be challenged. And while I can get my mind around the time, I am still thrown by the fact that for Bryan and me, Friday, December 19, 2008 will not exist as it was consumed by the international date line.