After three flights, going from Seattle to Los Angeles to Auckland to Queenstown, with crowds and interminable queues and extended waits we finally arrived at the start of our New Zealand adventure. Actually, we encountered some interesting new technology along the way…. at LAX to board the aircraft we walked up to a screen where by facial recognition we were allowed to board – no showing of my passport or boarding pass. Then going through immigration in Auckland I had to walk up to a machine, insert my passport, answer a few questions on the screen then pass to another facial recognition screen before being passed through without going through a single person. The bummer for me was that I didn’t get a passport stamp. Boohoo. And boy oh boy are they strict about what you can bring into the country… I had to pitch out my bag of cashews and a bag of prunes before I could pass through customs. I know, it’s an old lady thing, but those prunes are helpful when one travels and diet and schedule are all out of whack. But I was pleased when we found the Vodaphone kiosk so I could do as my daughter suggested and I got a New Zealand SIM card for my phone… more new technology for me.
Eventually we got through all that then followed a long, green line on the sidewalk to get from the international terminal to the national one. It was a most clever way to mark the walk which had a rather good amount of twists and turns. But how delightful to walk in sunny, warm weather! The flight to Queenstown went quickly, with a highlight of meeting a young Chinese man traveling alone. Considering the many, many trips Dian took to China, she’s always happy to talk with Chinese travelers. Actually, one of the things I enjoy most about her is that she’s always happy to talk with anyone! Anyway, this young fellow seemed to be pleased to befriend us as we tried to help him figure out how to find a hostel. Along the way he was totally charming and considerate in helping Dian with her bags. And what an entrance one gets flying into Queenstown! You fly right between the mountains where it looks as if you could reach right out and touch them before you land on a relatively short runway where the plane actually had to do a u-turn at the end of the runway!
We caught a shuttle out to the car rental company, got through all the paperwork and then I had the challenge of once again driving on the left. Now I managed that for my tours in Japan and Bermuda, but that was a long time ago. I probably drove the people behind me crazy to start as I got the hang of thinking “left, left, left!” and poked along trying not to mess up in all the roundabouts. We drove off to the first lodging we reserved, an airbnb in the outskirts of town. It’s a beautiful new home, with two bedrooms and a gorgeous view of the mountains. The home owners, Dan and Carlie, were there to greet us and show us the place. Tired as we were we decided to go off to the nearest grocery store and found great stuff for a dinner sitting outside the house enjoying the view. Now off to the comfy bed for hopefully a good catch up sleep.