To the Land of the KiwisA WANDER DOWN UNDER, CHAPTER 14: IN WHICH WE TRADE OZ FOR NZ
Day 15: Melbourne to Queenstown. With a 9 a.m. international flight, we arrived at Melbourne's Tullamarine Airport just before 7:00. Drop-off procedures for Hertz were quick and efficient, allowing us to enter the nearby terminal by seven.
Our first stop was at an Air New Zealand kiosk to check in and print boarding passes. Because we are not flying into New Zealand on round trip tickets, our attempt to check in online last night failed. At the airport kiosk, we were still unable to obtain boarding passes, though our passports were scanned and we were officially checked in. Finally when we presented ourselves to an Air New Zealand ticket agent, he issued the documents that would allow us to fly to Queenstown. The key that unlocked this magic door was presenting evidence of our exit plan. Before we could be permitted entrance to the country, the New Zealand government required proof that we had a ticket to leave the country and wouldn't overstay our welcome.
In response to my puzzled look, he added, "You have a strong North American accent. I thought you might be from Texas." Pouring on the southern drawl, I replied, "Nah, I'm from Atlanta." That produced a big smile. After all, from his perspective, ten thousand miles away, Atlanta and Texas are next-door neighbors.
Once we cleared security we joined another queue for passport control, finally reaching the gate a little after 8:00. After boarding our flight, a traffic jam on the runway kept us sitting at the gate and then on the tarmac, waiting for clearance. Finally, at 9:47, we departed Oz on our way to Kiwi land.
Like our arrival in Australia, our entrance into New Zealand was not without biosecurity drama. This time we were not confined and fumigated, but New Zealand is just as zealous as Australia about keeping their country free of non-native insect pests, plant diseases and animal infections that are common elsewhere in the world. This time we were singled out because we were wearing high-risk foot gear—hiking boots. Little did we know, we were expected to disinfect and remove any traces of soil from our shoes before entering the country. No worries, a Kiwi biosecurity agent did this for us, after we waited in a special line for a few minutes. Once we cleared this hurdle, we joined the line where our bags were x-rayed to ensure we were not bringing in any food that might be carrying pests or disease.
At last we were approved for entry. Once we exited the airport and got a look at our stunningly scenic environment for the next two and a half weeks, we were wholehearted supporters of New Zealand's efforts to keep the country as pristine and beautiful as it is.
|The view from our hotel room window|
- Started in Melbourne, Australia, ended in Queenstown, New Zealand
- Mileage - 1,335 (Trip total: 13,093)
- Weather - 41°to 49°, partly cloudy
- School kids at Melbourne airport - 18,265
WEDNESDAY, 17 SEPTEMBER, 2014
More Photos from Today
|Our first view of New Zealand's Southern Alps|
|Catsup? Ketchup? This would settle the spelling conflict.|
|Some doofus smoking in the fire stairs set off the fire alarm at our hotel, triggering evacuation and fire department response.|