New Zealand
Monday, 15th November 2010

HeathrowHeathrow

This is about a two-week trip I made to New Zealand in November 2010 to see family out in Auckland (Virginia's sister's family,) and to do some tourism. The family part of it was very pleasant, more than justified making the trip, but this article is going to focus on the tourism. NZ is a nice place to me, more livable than the UK, Auckland itself has many uncrowded beaches, good standard of living, and a wide range of scenery and worth seeings.

When to go is a good question. Late November is just coming into summer for New Zealand so that's good, the weather was fine for my visit (when I left it was about 25C in Auckland.) It is coming towards the end of the school year (NZ school years are calendar years) and this means school trips are in season. School parties impacted two of the trips I made (to Tiritiri Matangi and White Island.) The kids were barely supervised which didn't help. I don't know if the end of summer would be better from this point of view.

The flights are painfully long and boring and uncomfortable, taking over 30 hours door to door. I changed planes in Hong Kong each way, first time I had been to the 'new' airport on Lantau Island. Going out I had 9 hours to wait there (Cathay Pacific had cancelled one of my flights and put me on a later one.) While you're not allowed to carry water through the security checkpoints you can buy water to take on the planes (or fill bottles from water fountains.) For the first time I checked in online and chose a seat before getting to the airport - was bemused that just minutes after checking became available most of the seats had apparently gone. Perhaps Cathay Pacific block a lot of seats out for some reason. I went for window seats because:

  • You get at least one elbow rest

  • You're less disturbed by people and trolleys wandering along the aisles

  • Window seats get just that little extra space over other seats

  • The risk of having food or drinks or overhead luggage fall on you is less

This visit I took some money as a Travelex card. This worked wherever I used it (petrol or accommodation or car hire.) Not sure the exchange rate was the greatest, but it offers a level of security. May well use that again.

The next time I travel I'll aim to take something like an iPad. Most of the airports and places I stayed in offered free Wifi, and having a notebook makes sense. Also next time I travel I'll investigate taking a mobile phone into which I can buy a SIM card out there. This time I bought a phone out there for the trip then left it behind (the phone cost only NZ$55.)