Flying to New Zealand from London is no easy feat. It’s a bit of a long slog if I’m honest. Considering it’s probably the furthest away from England as we can possibly get. Our journey started at London Heathrow, with our flight leaving late at night. I was under the impression the journey was going to be a tough one, so I had a plan! I decided the best thing to do was to tire myself out so much, I would have no choice but to sleep most of the way. I’m pleased to report it kind of worked! So I woke up early on the morning of departure, said farewell to my brothers and pottered around the house. Cleaning, tidying and doing general housey things, and a last exercise session at home. I really went to town, making the most of my kettle-bells and other equipment while I still could. I really pushed myself hard to tire myself out. Then I had a quick bath and then it was time to be off to the airport.
With a slight panic over a delay on the M25 we made it to Heathrow in good time. We decided to arrive early to see if we could get extra leg room for Ian. But it turns out on Southern China they only give you exit seats if you are bilingual. Due to the large number of Chinese passengers, which makes sense.
We bumped into a couple at the airport, who spotted that we had a New Zealand guide book, and discovered they were taking the same 2 flights as us. It also coincidentally happened that they were also getting the same train down to Wellington 5 days later. So we ended up chatting to them a lot about the country. We hadn’t even left England yet and we made friends!
London Heathrow to Guangzhou, China
So, we hopped onto our flight to China and away we went. The food was good (I weirdly enjoy plane food, I know, I’m weird.) The in flight entertainment was pretty impressive and overall the flight was quite lovely actually. I should add it was on one of the new Dreamliner planes so it was very quiet, and they have these weird dimmer windows so the light that comes in is a strangely unobtrusive blue hue, so it was easy to sleep throughout.
11 hours later we landed in China, and the heat and humidity took me huuugely by surprise. We landed just as the sun was setting and I got a beautiful view of a stunning red sun on the horizon, I wish I’d got a photo.
Once inside the terminal, we were shepherded to transfers. And promptly came across a Chinese Blenz (the Canadian coffee company which Ian used to work for in Vancouver.) So we decided we had to have a coffee there! We went over to the currency exchange desk and
changed some NZ Dollars over to Chinese Yuan but found that we could only afford to get us ONE coffee. Bloody ridiculous if you ask me.
Guangzhou, China to Auckland, New Zealand
The second flight was noisier but uneventful. We had to move seats for an old lady and a baby, so Ian was even more squashed this time, but we made it. Coming in to land at Auckland airport was exhilarating, as we got our first views of the land we’re to live on for the next year.
Poor Ian suffered some ear pain during landing, due to the air pressure changes. But thankfully it eased off when we touched down, and a few days later seemed to heal.
Going through customs was easy – the New Zealand customs officers were a lot more welcoming and friendly than their Canadian counterparts, and we were stamped and waved through, they didn’t ask for insurance, bank account details or anything really, just what our plans where. It was more of a casual chat than going through immigration.
It also surprised us that unlike Canada, you do not get any sort of paper work regarding your visa, it’s all done online. We got an eVisa – so while we have a paper copy of our ‘invitation to enter country’ thing which we printed off before we flew, the only thing we received from immigration was a stamp with our date of entry. It felt a bit minimal.
Baggage Reclaim or… Not.
Next was baggage pick up… Ian’s bag came around the carousel, and we waited a little while.
Ian quipped ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if yours didn’t arrive!’ I’ve had my luggage go missing twice previously, so I didn’t find it a laughing matter. We waited, and waited and waited as the bags and people dwindled, until a member of staff came over and said all the bags had been offloaded. Mine did not appear.
At this point we’d been travelling for 30 hours, I was exhausted and because of the 5kg weight limit on hand luggage, a lot of my stuff was in my checked bag. I’m not ashamed to say I burst into tears. (I’m a crier, it’s what I do in bad situations.) So we logged the loss with the airline, got all the paperwork sorted with my contact details and went on our not so merry way, out into Auckland and to our AirBnB.