azzazzazza From New Zealand, joined Jan 2011, 12 posts, RR: 0 Posted (6 months 1 week 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 5010 times:
Before we begin, allow me to introduce myself. My name is azzazzazza. I live in the city of Christchurch, New Zealand, known locally as Earthquake Central :P While horribly clichéd, I have to say that I have been a long time reader of the various interesting and exciting trip reports found here on Airliners.net, and I have always wanted to write one myself and give something back to this awesome community. There are so many members whose trip reports I have read for hours on end, and if this is half as good as any of those then I will be extremely happy! So here goes, hope you enjoy!
Seven years ago I emigrated from England to New Zealand, on NZ1 from London to Auckland via Los Angeles. Ever since I travelled upon that impressive Boeing 747, I have been hooked on the airline world and held a massive fascination towards it. While growing up, being involved in this community was all I had ever wanted to do, and of course, where better to be than on the flight deck, flying these amazing machines across the globe? Becoming an airline pilot became my ultimate goal in life. In New Zealand, there are a few pilot training organisations dotted around the country. However, only one offers a university degree along with it, and that was Massey University’s Bachelor of Aviation course, located in the small city of Palmerston North, which is about 140km north of the capital Wellington. Attaining a degree from a university was something I felt I had to do, and so I decided that this course would be the best place to begin my journey to my dream job. Now all I had to do was finish high school first!
At the end of November this year, I did exactly that. I finished my very last high school exam, signed out of school, and stepped out into the big wide world to go and make something of my life. I knew exactly where I wanted to go. A couple of months ago, I applied to Massey, and I was invited to attend a selection interview and examination in Palmerston North, in order to assess whether I was good enough to be accepted to the course. This meant I would have to take a trip up to Palmerston North. My father and I considered our options, including driving to Picton and catching the interisland ferry across to Wellington, but decided it would be quicker and cheaper to fly direct (and of course, far more enjoyable for me!). And so, we booked our tickets on the national carrier, Air New Zealand. Our itinerary looked like this:
Date: Thursday 6th December 2012
Flight No: NZ5346
Carrier: Air New Zealand
Aircraft: ATR 72-500
Scheduled Departure Time: 1520
Actual Departure Time: 1545
Scheduled Arrival Time: 1630
Actual Arrival Time: 1655
Right from the beginning, we were running late. I had left my packing till the last minute, as often happens with me, resulting in a massive rush to ensure we got to our flight on time. Air New Zealand only requires you to check in 20 minutes before departure on domestic turboprop services, and we ended up leaving home at 1440, giving us 20 minutes to get to the airport and check in. Luckily, unlike many cities, Christchurch’s airport is not that far a drive away from the city centre, and so we arrived at the airport at 1455. My father dropped me off at the drop-off section to quickly check in, while he went to leave the car in long term parking. While walking toward the terminal, I checked the weather that we could look forward to, and it did not look promising. No views today!
If you have visited Christchurch Airport in the last few years, you will have noticed a large amount of construction work going on. The new terminal was opened just over a year ago, a vast improvement on the old one in my opinion.
The outside of the new terminal, with the impressive ATC tower to the right:
I entered the terminal and walked down toward the domestic check in.
Checking in at the self check-in machine was a breeze. Simply produced and scanned my e-ticket, told the machine I had no bags to check in, no dangerous items in my hand luggage, selected our seats, and then our tickets were printed, just like that. After having many various trips to London and back, with all the security checks and bags to check in and general hassle, the simplicity of travelling domestic surprised me. I was told to be at the gate no later than 20 minutes before departure, and sent on my way. So easy!
My ticket (it says 9C but I swapped with my father so I got 9D, the window)
Heading to the gate!
The fantastic new domestic departure lounge at CHC
Upon arrival at the departure gates, at 1500 exactly, it was announced that our flight had been delayed to 1530, due to the late arrival of the incoming aircraft. I was to find out later that day that this was due to the storms battering the North Island, and the small tornadoes that did some heavy damage in Auckland and Rotorua. And there I was, complaining about the cloudy skies in Christchurch! This was definitely not your typical New Zealand summer weather. Having rushed to the airport to make sure we were on time for the flight, I was a little bit annoyed that the flight had been delayed. There had been no need to worry about making our flight!
1530 came and passed, but there was no further announcement from the gate crew, and we were left sitting and wondering when we would actually be leaving. This is the sort of thing we would expect from Jetstar, not Air New Zealand! But I knew it could happen to any airline, so we sat and waited. Then, at 1545, we were finally invited to board the aircraft through gate 10. My ticket was scanned and I was on my way!
Heading out to the aircraft
ZK-NFA, a Bombardier Q300, parked at the gate next door
And on the other side of us, ZK-SJC
Our aircraft would be ZK-MCY, which first flew on 23rd Jan 03, and was delivered to Air New Zealand two weeks later on 5th Feb 2003. It is almost 10 years old, and flown for the airline all that time.
We were greeted at the door by the purser. She took my ticket, mumbled something about my seat, and shoved it back at me. Well, good to see you too. I hope she was just having a tough day or something and that she is not usually like that… Not even a smile or any friendliness! Nevertheless, I headed to my seat 11D, stowed my bag away, and sat down.
The obligatory legroom shot which I felt I had to take :P It was good enough for me, but it was only going to be a short flight anyway, so it didn’t bother me either way.
And the safety card..
My view for the next hour
ZK-MCX, another ATR 72-500, passed while boarding continued. I believe this was heading to Invercargill
Pretty soon, the engine started up and the propeller started spinning. We were on our way!
We began to taxi to the runway. Along the way we saw a few interesting things:
The demolition of the old domestic terminal, almost complete:
Air New Zealand’s “All Black” Airbus A320, ZK-OJR, getting ready to depart for Auckland
The taxi continues
We came to a halt beside runway 02R. At this point, the captain came on to apologize for the delay, again explaining the late arrival of the inbound aircraft, and mentioning that we may be waiting a couple of minutes extra before we could get on to the runway.
An Air New Zealand Boeing 737-300 taking off into the clouds
After about a five minute wait, we turned onto the runway ourselves, and without any stopping, powered off into the sky to begin our journey.
Turning onto the runway
ZK-OJR taxiing further down the runway
Take off roll begins
And into the air!
The city stretching off into the distance…
The Pacific Ocean and the Waimakiriri River, north of Christchurch
The satellite town of Kaiapoi
And then off over the sea!
We then entered the thick, grey clouds
Before popping out above them!
Shortly after take-off, the two flight attendants began their refreshments service. The younger one, who had not greeted us at the door, was far friendlier and happier than the older one who had. She did everything with a smile and was not visibly annoyed by anything, including the crying child in the back row. Much more like it! They initially came down offering everybody a cup if they wanted tea or coffee, and a biscuit to accompany it. They then returned down the aisle, one with tea, one with coffee, pouring drinks for those who requested. After doing this, they did the same except offered water instead, which I had some of. It was chilled and refreshing, but it was simply water, nothing amazing :P
I then had a quick browse through Air New Zealand’s inflight magazine, “KiaOra”. Of course, with the imminent premiere of the ‘Hobbit’ movie across the globe, which was shot in New Zealand, Air New Zealand has had a Lord of the Rings theme of late. They recently repainted ZK-OKP, a new Boeing 777-300ER, in a Lord of the Rings theme, with the characters plastered along the side, which was used to take the stars of the movie to the world premiere in Wellington.
The magazine had a strong ‘Hobbit’ theme.
I had no real interest in the movie, and so turned to my favourite, the aircraft statistics page.
I then took some notes for my first trip report, and as I was doing so, the flight attendants came back down the aisle, offering Air New Zealand’s famous boiled sweets, and collected all the rubbish, in preparation for our arrival into Palmerston North. I felt the plane begin to descend, and my suspicion was confirmed very soon after. The first officer announced we had been at a cruising altitude of 17000ft, and that we had begun our descent. He also informed us of an expected arrival time of 1650, into a 24 degrees and sunny Palmerston North.
Top of the descent
Exiting the clouds and approaching the city
Palmerston North comes into sight!
In the distance here is the university I wanted to get into
The whole city
The city centre
It was at this moment that I saw a massive cloud that was engulfing the city. So much for sunny weather! The rain suddenly began pouring down as we came over the city and circled round to line up for the airport.
As we got lower down, we could see just how wet it was, definitely not the sun we were expecting.
We touched down very hard on a soaking wet runway 25R.
The captain turned us round at the end of the runway
And we taxied back toward the terminal
Going past the grass runway 25L
And pulling up at Gate 2
Mercifully, the rain abated when it was time to disembark, and the sun even made an appearance!
There were no additional security checks of any kind, so that was it, we had arrived in Palmerston North, and only 25 minutes late! We quickly picked up our rental car, and made our way off into the city to find a place to stay.
Date: Thursday 7th December 2012
Flight No: NZ8707
Carrier: Air New Zealand
Aircraft: Bombardier Q300
Scheduled Departure Time: 1630
Actual Departure Time: 1645
Scheduled Arrival Time: 1745
Actual Arrival Time: 1755
After finishing my selection interviews and examinations at the university the next day, it was time to travel back across town to the airport for the flight back home. After stopping off for a quick lunch at KFC, we arrived at the airport quite early, at 1510. Our plane wasn’t meant to depart till 1630, so we had plenty of time at the airport to fill. We pulled into the designated rental carpark and dropped off the car before making the short walk across to the terminal.
The exterior of the terminal
While my father went to return the rental car keys, I went over to check us both in at the self check-in machine. Like last time, it was quick and easy, and we soon had our tickets home.
Check in counters
My ticket (again, while it says 11C, I actually had the window seat 11D)
Having about an hour to kill, we went upstairs to a lounge. My father went to get some drinks from the café while I explored the airport a little bit, snapping some photos along the way.
Sign farewelling us from Palmerston North
The upstairs lounge
ZK-MCP, an Air New Zealand ATR 72-500, readying for departure to Auckland.
The departures screen
The airport had a rather interesting exhibit about the history of the airport, with various old Air New Zealand aircraft models and signs explaining their significance. This was located near the entrance to the Koru Club Lounge. Interesting to know that the airport is still named Palmerston North International Airport, despite the fact it hasn’t received an international flight since March 2008!
The historical exhibit
This is one weird looking departure gate…
I met back up with my father who had an ice cold coke zero for me. I settled in for a long wait, in front of the large glass windows overlooking the apron and runway. Just as I returned, ZK-MCP decided it was time to leave for Auckland, with very good timing.
This left an utterly empty apron… Hmmm… Where’s the aircraft that will take me to Christchurch?
At this point it was announced that my flight had been delayed. Yet again. The reason? Late arrival of the inbound aircraft. This was beginning to become a bit of a theme… Boarding would now be at 1640, leaving me more time to stare out at an empty apron. I had to resort to surfing the web on my iPod via the free Wi-Fi that the airport had set up, which was convenient. After checking a few wall posts on Facebook and my e-mails, some entertainment suddenly appeared on the apron!
This aircraft, a Diamond DA-40, was one of the ones which belonged to the School of Aviation that I was applying for. Hopefully I’ll be flying these soon! They look much more sleek and beautiful with the gear up though…
Three of these aircraft followed afterward. They are Massey’s old aircraft, which are no longer used for flight training, since they upgraded to the Diamonds. I have yet to find out what exactly they were using them for one that day. However, they provided some entertainment, so I wasn’t complaining. One by one, the four aircraft took off into the sky, one departing off the grass runway. The winds were extremely high, and the light aircraft were swaying by a large amount as they took off. Certainly a bumpy ride!
I watched as the winds continued, blowing these dark clouds in…. Something told me there would not be many good opportunities for pictures today.
Some time passed, and then, finally, at 1632, our aircraft arrived!
The aircraft that would be taking me to Christchurch was ZK-NED, a Bombardier Q300 which first flew on the 31st Jan 2005, and was delivered to Air New Zealand on the 21st Dec 2005, making it almost eight years old.
Only about 10 minutes after it had landed, boarding was called. Obviously they wanted an extremely quick turnaround to try and keep the flight somewhat to schedule… So we made our way downstairs to Gate 3. When we stepped out, of course, the sun had completely disappeared, and the rain had returned, along with the strong winds. Not a very enjoyable walk to the aircraft, but I snapped some pics nevertheless.
Obligatory legroom shot and safety card shots
And my view for the next hour… With a giant engine and wheel in the way. Perfect.
Boarding was completed very quickly (probably due to the fact no one wanted to remain outside in the cold driving rain), so very soon the doors were closed. The flight attendant aboard this time was very friendly, she warmly greeted us despite the weather, and was cheerful the entire flight. Much better! We began taxiing, with some safety announcements being made.
Turning onto runway 25R
Take off roll commenced…
And lift off!
Wheels retracted (I suppose there was some benefit to sitting right next to them)
There was a large amount of turbulence through the climb and much of the flight. There had been strong winds on take-off and they continued. Seems Mother Nature is a little bit angry with New Zealand for some reason….
Soon, we disappeared into the thick clouds, and nothing more was seen for much of the flight.
However, there was a point sometime over the top of the South Island (I think) where the clouds thinned a bit and I was able to snap some rather impressive looking pics.
If my geographic knowledge is correct, I think this is the city of Nelson in the gap between the clouds.
It became evident to me just why New Zealand is known as the land of the long white cloud….
The same tea-coffee-biscuit-water service was carried out on this route, however I still had my coke zero and so did not get any water. The turbulence was a problem though, lids were strongly advised to be put on the cups. The flight attendant did a very good job of pouring all the tea and coffee without spilling anything in my opinion. The turbulence was almost constant. Drinking the tea was difficult for my father, in the end he gave up.
I updated my trip report notes, read a couple of articles in the KiaOra magazine, and stared out the window at the continuous passing clouds. The flight was very uneventful apart from the turbulence.
After a while, the first officer came on the radio and announced that we had been at a slightly higher cruising altitude of 20,000ft, and that we were beginning our descent into Christchurch, which was currently experiencing cloudy skies (there’s a surprise), with strong winds and a temperature of 11 degrees. The descent began soon after.
azzazzazza From New Zealand, joined Jan 2011, 12 posts, RR: 0 Reply 1, posted (6 months 1 week 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 5007 times:
Finally, land in sight!
Crossing the Waimakiriri River
As I had the wheel in plain sight, I was going to try and get the exact moment of touchdown, but it didn’t work out too well as we landed heavily onto Runway 20L, only 10 minutes late at 1755.
Turning off the runway
We then taxied to the gate rather fast; the pilot was definitely in a hurry!
We passed Air New Zealand’s new black ATR 72-600 as we taxied, sadly I didn’t catch the registration or were it was headed for unfortunately. I love Air New Zealand’s all black planes however, they all look fantastic!
We came to a halt at Gate 10.
As I was getting off the plane, I saw the cockpit door was ajar and quickly snapped a cheeky pic!
Heading toward the entrance to the airport
A quick snap of the FIDS screens at CHC
Very quickly we were back out into our home city, and back where the journey had begun just over 24 hours previously, with an almost identical sky as well!
Overall, these two short flights were thoroughly enjoyable. The gate crew could have kept us more informed with what was happening with the delays, and it was a bit unfortunate getting delays on both flights, but that’s Mother Nature for you. Clearly she had it in for New Zealand those two days, what with the storms and tornadoes. The head flight attendant on the trip up to PMR could have perhaps cracked a smile once or twice, instead of doing a stuck up female dog impression, but her colleagues made up for it. And Air New Zealand, could you PLEASE make an alternative to just tea, coffee, or water on your domestic flights? Some of us don’t drink tea or coffee, and they don’t just want to have water by itself! Apart from this though everything else was fantastic, and once again I am impressed with Air New Zealand. I have never had a bad flight with the airline, and I cannot recommend them enough. If ever you’re in our small little country, be sure to book a couple of domestic hops with them! Christchurch’s new airport still impresses me, and is a vast improvement on the outdated old one. Palmerston North’s airport was simplistic and small, yet it got the job done and was enjoyable also. At least they had removed the $5 departure tax!
That also brings an end to my very first trip report on Airliners.net. I am unsure when I will be able to write another, as I unfortunately have no trips planned for the foreseeable future, but when I do, I will be sure to write another one of these. Hopefully there will be some more exciting and longer trips next time! Any tips you experienced trip report writes would have for me would be greatly appreciated! I find I enjoy the ones with good pictures a lot more, so I tried to have as many of those as I could. Do you feel there was enough writing however? I’m unsure whether there was. It is up to you, the public, to decide! Any comments will truly be hugely appreciated.
Thanks for making it through this trip report.
Till next time,
ZKSUJ From New Zealand, joined May 2004, 6971 posts, RR: 10 Reply 2, posted (6 months 1 week 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 4756 times:
Glad you had good flights, the Black ATR's reg is ZK-MVA for future references,. In future if you want a pic of the flight deck, no harm asking the crew if you would be able to take a pic after landing. Many flight crew would be happy to let you do so
I think its great! A big improvement to the old terminal. I was at CHC just a couple of days before you and using the same gate aswell but going to TRG
Quoting ZKSUJ (Reply 2): The aircraft that would be taking me to Christchurch was ZK-NED
Nice, I flew this earlier this Reg on WLG-TRG earlier this year
Quoting ZKSUJ (Reply 2): And Air New Zealand, could you PLEASE make an alternative to just tea, coffee, or water on your domestic flights? Some of us don’t drink tea or coffee, and they don’t just want to have water by itself!
All 737 & A320 domestic flights between AKL, WLG, CHC, ZQN & DUD before 8am and between 4-7.30pm on weekdays are Koru hour flight with cookies and muffins in the morning and wine, beer and soft drinks and cheese and crackers in the evening. But i agree, something more standard needs to be offered but unlikely anytime soon the way NZ is going.
Quoting byronicle6 (Reply 3): I must be around the same age as you, last year of high school this year too.
It's a good feeling isn't it! What are your plans for next year?
Quoting byronicle6 (Reply 3): Nice, I flew this earlier this Reg on WLG-TRG earlier this year
I think I read the trip report about this not long before I wrote mine! A series of flights all around NZ? I remember it being very good and one of the ones I tried to model mine on
Quoting byronicle6 (Reply 3): All 737 & A320 domestic flights between AKL, WLG, CHC, ZQN & DUD before 8am and between 4-7.30pm on weekdays are Koru hour flight with cookies and muffins in the morning and wine, beer and soft drinks and cheese and crackers in the evening.
Oh yes, I knew this too, having flown CHC-AKL a few times previously on NZ. I just feel they should do something like it on all domestic services. At least JQ allows you to buy stuff on board, NZ doesn't even offer that! Just a thought...
I'd try looking at a cadet pilot program if I were you. It's a good way to get your training done in a structured manner and it is subsidized by an airline so it is more secure than going through a PPL/CPL or a university flying program. If you get into the BA or Easyjet one they you get to come to NZ to train. Kill 2 birds with one stone
azzazzazza I suggest you look into it too if you still hold a UK passport.
LGWflyer From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2011, 2348 posts, RR: 1 Reply 13, posted (6 months 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 2740 times:
Quoting ZKSUJ (Reply 12): I'd try looking at a cadet pilot program if I were you. It's a good way to get your training done in a structured manner and it is subsidized by an airline so it is more secure than going through a PPL/CPL or a university flying program. If you get into the BA or Easyjet one they you get to come to NZ to train. Kill 2 birds with one stone
Interesting I will have a look into it, thank you!
azzazzazza From New Zealand, joined Jan 2011, 12 posts, RR: 0 Reply 15, posted (6 months 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 2306 times:
Quoting LGWflyer (Reply 11): Ha well don't rush back, its very cold here right now!
As it should be! Its so hot over here and as I grew up in the UK, it doesn't feel right having sunshine at Christmas!
Quoting ZKSUJ (Reply 12): azzazzazza I suggest you look into it too if you still hold a UK passport.
Yeah I have looked into this. The company that does this for BA and easyjet also do it for JQ in Aus/NZ. It was an option but is very limiting; I could get stuck with that airline and I may not be able to experience flying elsewhere, which is something I really want to do. Plus, getting a degree means that I could enter other roles in aviation rather than just flying, if I ever wanted to do something different! And at the time I looked, BA weren't actually recruiting into the program anyway...
ZKSUJ From New Zealand, joined May 2004, 6971 posts, RR: 10 Reply 16, posted (6 months 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 2290 times:
Quoting azzazzazza (Reply 15): lus, getting a degree means that I could enter other roles in aviation rather than just flying, if I ever wanted to do something different!
Yes this is true however a degree in Aviation is very limiting. I would suggest getting a degree in something else (Maybe after you finish flight training) and do a flying course elsewhere.
Quoting azzazzazza (Reply 15): I could get stuck with that airline and I may not be able to experience flying elsewhere, which is something I really want to do
I understand where you are coming from, but that first job with an airline is a golden opportunity many have not gotten in recent times. Many do a CPL/MEIR and end up working for years as a flight instructor/charter pilot for minimum wage. Many have to work 2 jobs to make ends meet, it is certainly not ideal IMHO.