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Winter Getaway In Queenstown  
User currently offlineFuffla From Australia, joined Feb 2004, 403 posts, RR: 0
Posted (10 years 10 months 2 weeks 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 2765 times:

After an enjoyable trip last year to Queenstown, New Zealand, my family and I decided to make it a yearly tradition. A couple of months of planning and the holiday was booked late last year. Then it was just a waiting game....

On the 10th July 2005, the wait was finally over.

NZ182: SYD - CHC
Registration: ZK-OJG [A320-232]
Scheduled Departure: 0950 AEDST
Actual Departure: 1015 AEDST
Departure Runway: 25
Scheduled Arrival: 1450 NZT
Actual Arrival: 1500 NZT
Arrival Runway: 20
Cruise Altitude: FL380

I awoke at around half past six and was already beginning to become excited about this six day holiday. It had been a long term at school and I needed to getaway from everything and relax (relaxing was not really on my mind as I would have four full days of skiing). After arriving at Sydney Airport, we faced a long line at the Air New Zealand check-in area. Three ANZ flights were leaving within an hour of each other and it took over half an hour to reach the front of the queue. A security check for explosives was experienced by all passengers also. Since our passports had just been renewed, the computers were rejecting the new ones because they were somehow different to our old ones. I don't see why this would be the case but, after numerous apologies from the check-in staff, we were on our way, with less than half an hour until boarding commenced. There was little time to browse the duty-free shops as we rushed through the terminal to gate 60.
The weather outside was horrendous, gale force south-westerly winds at 30kts, and rain pelting down. All aircraft had to use runway 25 only. Settling into seat 7A, the aircraft pushed back late at 1000 (approx.) and our A322 began racing an EK773 down taxiiway golf.

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Photo © Hugh Mitton
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Photo © Norbert Genci

After take-off, the aircraft headed out over Sydney's western suburbs. It then commenced a one-hundred and eighty left turn and continued on a course to Christchurch. A light lunch was served soon afterwards, with a choice between a beef foccacia or a salad being offered. I chose the hot option, the beef, since it was a cold morning. I was impressed by the service on-board, however, I feel that the staff presence was not felt, with a 'beverage run' only being completed once after the meal service. The meals were cleared away and the always welcomed boiled lollies were offered to passengers.
Our descent into Christchurch began approximatly 120NM from the airport. Breathtaking views of snow-capped mountain ranges could be seen from both sides of the aircraft. Light, whispy clouds surrounded the ranges which, along with the snow, created an almost everlasting white blanket. After a series of right turns, ZK-OJG plunged through the clouds and touched down quite hard on runway 20. A short taxi followed and the aircraft pulled to a stop at gate 30, next to the likes of an Air New Zealand 744 and an EK A345. Since the flight arrived a little late, we rushed through customs and towards the domestic transfer desk, leaving only twenty minutes before our connection to Queenstown boarded.

Rating for this flight
Check-in: 7/10 (This is because of the long lines, which probably could not be helped, but the staff were friendly and prompt)
Entertainment: 7/10
Service: 8/10
Food: 8/10
Overall Satisfaction: 7.5/10

Upon entering Christchurch airport, I was greeted with a sight that I could not have expected in my wildess dreams. Crystal clear glass walls faced the apron from inside the terminal, a generous amount of seating is scattered around the spotless carpeted floors. It just felt so light and comfortable to be in. The domestic terminal is somewhat different however. It is cluttered, there was limited seating and little room to move. I am sure that the airport committee have plans to renovate the domestic terminal to a state much the same as the international. When this is completed, I am sure that this airport will be exceptional for both international and domestic passengers.

NZ5381: CHC - ZQN
Registration: ZK-MCP [ATR72-500]
Scheduled Departure: 1605
Actual Departure: 1606
Departure Runway: 20
Scheduled Arrival: 1710
Actual Arrival: 1706
Arrival Runway: 23
Cruise Altitude: FL160

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Photo © Jonathan Rankin
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Photo © Jonathan Rankin

There is very little to say about this flight, except that it was great. Air New Zealand offer an Express Service on short-haul flights such as this. In comprises of tea, coffee, water and boiled lollies (and a biscuit if you had a hot drink). The staff were pleasant and efficient in their service. I was sitting in 13A, which is close to the back of the cabin. While I missed out on seeing the 'action' that takes place under the wing of the aircraft, I was one of the first to disembark. In this case, it was good as I was not wearing anything too warm and, as it is in Queenstown in winter, is a bit chilly outside. As usual on descent into ZQN, beautiful scenery can be seen. It is especially freaky to be flying lower than the height of the mountain ranges on both sides of the aircraft. Down over Arrowtown, a sharp right turn was made (this is to defer from slamming into the side of The Remarkables, a mountain range admired for its height and beauty, it was a good idea for the capitan to turn away from them for us) and the aircraft touched down smoothly on runway 23. Queenstown airport is a simple, yet effective airport. However, during the middle of the day it gets extreemly busy as regional and international flights arrive and depart. I think it is time to expand guys!.

Rating for this flight
Check-in: 9/10 (It wasn't really a check-in, but a transfer, however this was good.)
Entertainment: 9/10 (No entertainment, but a great view outside which is good enough.)
Service: 8/10
Overall Satisfaction: 8/10

I love skiing. The reason why we ski in New Zealand rather than Australia is because it costs the same amount of money (including airfares) and the snow is more reliable. You can be guarenteed snow in Queenstown, but it is a gamble in Australia. However, this year was different, Australia got a dumping (over a metre in a day) and New Zealand seemed to suffer for Australia's success. It was still great, especially on the last day. After a large fall the previous day, the snow was exceptional. I had a great stay at our hotel, Aspen on Queenstown, as usual. The great thing about this hotel is that it is the first stop that the ski bus makes on its trip up the mountain, so you are always guarenteed a seat.

15th July 2005 - Homeward bound...(anyone who has been to the Remarkables ski area in Queenstown should be able to relate to what I just said).

NZ5042: ZQN - CHC
Registration: ZK-MCA [ATR72-500]
Scheduled Departure: 1255
Actual Departure: 1258
Departure Runway: 23
Scheduled Arrival: 1355
Actual Arrival: 1357
Arrival Runway: 20
Cruise Altitude: FL170

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Photo © Hugh Mitton
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Photo © James Eden

Similar to the previous flight, nothing much occured. The check-in lines were short, however the terminal was scattered with passengers just loitering before their departure. The aircraft arrived on time and was quickly turned-around by the ground staff. Boarding soon commenced, it was not difficult to find my seat, 1B. Great views again of The Remarkables, Mt. Cook and glaciers throughout the flight. On departure and arrival, the passengers in the first row talked to the flight attendant. I talked to her about becoming a pilot and she reassured me that it was a perfect time to get into the industry due to its rapid expansion. The staff on this flight were outstanding. The FO gave regular updates throughout the flight about the expected arrival time and the views out of the windows. Low clouds were present again in Christchurch but they did not prove to provide any turbulence. We touched down smoothy and made the short taxi to the gate.

Rating for this flight
Check-in: 8/10
Entertainment: 9/10 (No entertainment, but a great view outside which is good enough.)
Service: 10/10
Overall Satisfaction: 9/10

We had a two hour layover in Christchurch, which gave me some time so do some spotting. The have great facilities for viewing aircraft in the airport, with a large viewing deck on the domestic terminal roof. This provides great views of the domestic aprons. I happened to see the new Freedom Air A320, a New Zealand Airforce 757 and the ANZ Star Alliance A320, which happened to be my ride home. However, the sun was not in my favour as it was facing directly into the lens.

NZ183: CHC - SYD
Registration: ZK-OJH [A320-232] *Star Alliance livery*
Scheduled Departure: 1600
Actual Departure: 1559
Departure Runway: 20
Scheduled Arrival: 1730 AEDST
Actual Arrival: 1727 AEDST
Arrival Runway: 34R
Cruise Altitude: FL340

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Photo © Morris Biondi
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Photo © Jonathan Rankin

We did not have to check-in for this flight as our bags were transfered and our boarding passes were printed out in Queenstown. This gave us a lot of time to explore the duty free shops. After seeing the Air New Zealand Star Alliance A320 upstairs at the viewing deck, I hoped that it would be operating our flight today. My hopes were rewarded as I arrived at gate 27 to find ZK-OJH sitting there. Boarding commenced at 1540 and we pushed back a minute early. After waiting for a QF733 to depart and an NZATR72 to land, we finally were in the air. Once again, for the fourth time in six days, the aircraft flew over the mountain ranges west of Christchurch. Dinner was served shortly after departure. A choice of crumbed chicken and a beef pie were offered, each has a side of cuscus and chocolate ice-cream. While the food took a while to be taken away, the service on this flight was excellent. The flight attendants had a great attitude and were very friendly towards the passengers. We descended into the sunset, with bright reds and oranges being reflected from the tops of the clouds. Exceptional views of the southern beaches of Sydney were visible before the aircraft touched down smoothly on runway 34R. After a long taxi, the engines were finally shut-down at gate 63, marking the end of a fantastic getaway to New Zealand.

Rating for this flight
Check-in: 9/10 (It wasn't really a check-in, but a transfer, however this was good.)
Entertainment: 9/10
Service: 9/10
Food: 8/10 (didn't really enjoy the cuscus)
Overall Satisfaction: 8.5/10

3 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlinePilotdude09 From Australia, joined May 2005, 1777 posts, RR: 4
Reply 1, posted (10 years 10 months 2 weeks 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 2625 times:

Good report mate, did the atr feel powerfull on take off?

Qantas, Still calling Australia Home.........
User currently offlineFuffla From Australia, joined Feb 2004, 403 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (10 years 10 months 2 weeks 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 2478 times:

The ATR's feel quite powerful on take-off. I do not know whether it is their close proximity to the gound, or that they are just noisy inside. It was all good fun though, I am beginning to like turboprops, especially better than A320's.

User currently offlineZKSUJ From New Zealand, joined May 2004, 7232 posts, RR: 11
Reply 3, posted (10 years 10 months 1 week 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 2373 times:

The ATR 72 is a great turboprop. I travelled on ZK-MCP (the same one as you) yesterday in 11D. I love that aircraft.

Good report

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