It’s been a while! My mom’s best friend has been hassling me so much to include her in my blog that’s it’s put me off it entirely. (Kidding Jacquie, love you)
But seriously, look at this persistence!
YOU GOT WHAT YOU WANTED!
She probably wanted me to mention something more exciting, like the time I was 13 and came home to a gift on my door step… which turned out to be a plastic umm…speculum. But I won’t get into that. She’s wild tho.
Life in Auckland is relatively quiet. I’m actually loving my job – working at Transdev, who operate the commuter rail network. I started as a temp doing admin for the Communications team on a 6 week contract back in September, but here I am, 7 months later with a fancier title and a higher pay grade. Life comes at you fast!
If you’re ever in Auckland and take the train, listen for the announcements and read the nice posters – that’s my job! Among many other things. I’m even helping to develop the app that we’re launching in a couple months!
Recently I’ve had a bunch of those weird moments (which I’m sure you have all had, or will have) where I’m offering opinions in a meeting or making an important decision, and I’m like, am I an adult now? I guess this is it.
Anyway, after that you can probably tell I’ve been pretty wrapped up in my job, as has my partner who is currently working on the entire brand relaunch of Tuatara, one of New Zealand’s most popular craft beers.
We need a vacation!
So we’re off to the South Island for a quick 5 day road trip through Nelson, Greymouth, and Christchurch.
It’s 4:30am when we’re rolling out of bed, and shuffling our stuff together. The great thing about travelling with a buddy is splitting the cost of stuff. One Sky Bus ticket is $18. One Uber ride is $33 and infinitely more comfortable.
18 x 2 = $36
33 \ 2 = $16.50
The sharing goes for car rental, gas, and almost everything else. And when gas is $2+/L, I honestly don’t know how anyone can afford to get in a car alone.
We roll up to the airport and see a ton of cancelled flights on the board, evidently due to the thick fog outside. We’re stoked that our flight isn’t one of them though! Due to board in half an hour and feeling good.
An announcement plays – informing us our flight is delayed by 15. No big!! Take your time Air NZ. We’re chillin’.
Okay delayed now by an hour. That’s not great but we still haven’t heard “cancelled” like so many people around us, so that’s positive! Some poor souls have just been sent on an 6 or more hour bus ride to Tauranga. We’re still hopeful and optimistic on this fine morning.
Yeah so it’s now 8:15 and the flight has been cancelled. We had planned to be there already so this is a major bummer. As soon as we’re notified about the cancellation, phones are buzzing with texts and email notifications, advising us to choose another flight. Ches and I don’t get to the 9:30 fast enough and it fills up. Then we miss the 11, but get seats on the 14:15. Great…but what do we do for 5 hours?
Do we pay $33 to get another Uber home, and then Uber back out here? Having spend 100 bucks on Uber in the first 8 hours of our trip? No. Do we stay in the airport and allow our mental health to deteriorate exponentially until 14:15? Also no.
Butterfly Creek, a family attraction that includes a petting zoo and butterfly room (obv) is a 7 minute walk from here, and even though it’s Saturday morning and it will no doubt be full of screaming children, it beats the internal screaming I’ll be doing if we stay in this airport terminal.
Spirits are defo a little lower, but I’m happy we’ve come to such an easy conclusion about what to do with this unexpected time. We wander around and check out the butterflies, crocodiles, giant plastic dinosaurs, a weird exhibit with creepy looking unicorns, and I even see a real live kiwi!!! They’re nocturnal and shy, making them almost impossible to spot in the wild. Even Ches who’s been here for 16 years has never seen one.
I struggle with this stuff – animals in cages. It’s so nice for these kids who get to see them up close and learn about them first hand… but I can’t help but be sad looking into their tiny cages. The butterflies are one thing because they’re alive for like 2 weeks and get to live in this well-simulated tropical paradise that’s bigger than the alligator cages. But for the bigger animals it feels unfair. I don’t know what to do about it. Will it change if I don’t visit? Where else do rescue gators go? What do we do?
K. Back to the airport. It’s 1 o’clock and an absolute zoo in here. Lots of people we recognize from this morning are still waiting around and looking miserable. The weather has cleared up but flights are still being delayed and cancelled. There’s no guarantee that our 14:15 flight will even happen. I start emailing our Air BnB and car rental company to see what happens if we have to cancel. We start discussing what we’ll do if we can’t get on a flight today. And then, an announcement plays.
*I want to preface the next part of the story by saying I wouldn’t normally find this funny, but the entire experience was laughable and y’all will see why it was perpetuated when you hear this guys last name.*
Last call for boarding flight NZ5073 to Nelson. Paging Steven Thompson and Chris Fagg. Last call for boarding.
How dare someone miss a flight when everything is so backed up. Chesney and I have a giggle about the dudes name blaring over the airport lounge speakers and finish our sandwiches. The announcement is made again.
Paging Steven Thompson and Chris Fagg. Last call for boarding flight NZ5073 to Nelson.
Alright…they’re cutting it way too close. We head to the desk and see if there’s any way we could get on this earlier flight if these guys don’t show up. Worth a shot. the desk man asks if we have any checked baggage, which we fortunately do not, and takes our boarding passes while making another call for these clowns who are about to miss their flight.
Steven Thompson. Chris Fagg. Chris Fagg to the gate please.
When no one comes to the desk he shrugs and says “it’s your lucky day” and let’s us through. The flight attendant scanning our boarding passes cheerfully tells us to buy a lottery ticket. We are beaming. As soon as we’re on the other side I realize we don’t know which gate we need. It’s a tiny airport so the waiting area we’ve just been sitting is for all gates 35-45. There’s nothing on our boarding passes because this isn’t actually our flight. I turn to a security guard and ask him which gate is going to Nelson. He points straight ahead so we start running down the tunnel. The plane is literally waiting for us at this point so there’s no time to waste. We jog up the steps into the small plane and ask if we’re going to Nelson. Nope, this one is heading to Blenheim.
Faaaaaack. We run back down, confused and aware of the ticking clock. We hook a right past the useless security guard, gunning it down another portion of tunnel to the next plane. This one has Air Nelson painted on the side so we must be in the right place. Chesney steps into the plane, where the captain is standing and says he’s flying to Gisbourne. I’m hoping he’s making some kind of sick joke but Ches looks to his right and sees not one soul sitting there. The guys in hi-vis vests on the tarmac are now shouting at us and pointing down to the very last tunnel. We have to do MORE running.
Chesney is ahead of me because I’m unfit af, and gets to the end of the tunnel first, shouting “nooooooo” as he can see the door of the plane – closed, disconnected from the tunnel, and leaving without us. But wait! The back door is open! We sprint across the tarmac and up the stairs, out of breath and embarrassed because surely all these people think we’re the assholes who couldn’t be bothered to get on the flight in time.
Thankfully we’re allocated to the very back two aisle seats and don’t have to make too much of a ruckus getting our bags in the overhead compartments or crawling over our neighbours.
I have successfully stolen Chris Fagg’s seat and am finally en route to Nelson.
Im picturing either:
1. Two guys who’ve made it to the counter too late and are fuming
2. Some guy giggling to himself in the corner after having made a fake reservation under the name Chris Fagg
Boom. We’re touching down in Nelson. Blue skies as far as the eye can see!! We hop in our rental car, booked with Apex who took a day’s cost off the car because we got in late. Bless them. Book with them. This is not sponsored content.
We check into our adorable little Air Bnb where free bikes are provided, and take them into town. The original plan had been to visit the Abel Tasman National Park, but that was when we thought we were getting in at 8:15am. It is now 3.
It’s Saturday night and the streets are not exactly poppin’, but we find a cool Freehouse for a beer flight, and have dinner at a busy burger joint that serves truffle cheese fries and burgers on black buns. This section of the South Island is a major hop producer so the craft beer vibes are strong and Chesney is in beer nerd heaven.