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NZ Trip Pt 1: LHR-HKG-AKL On CX - Photos/Videos  
User currently offlineNoelg From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (8 years 5 months 2 weeks 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 12683 times:

Background to the trip

Back on September 11 2005, we attended a friend’s wedding in the UK. Our friend had been travelling around New Zealand and met her fiancée, before coming back to the UK to get married. The wedding was absolutely amazing, very ‘Kiwi’, even having Maori dancers! The hospitality of the New Zealanders was overwhelming, and we came away saying “we have to visit New Zealand”.

By sheer coincidence, the following day I was surfing the internet, and noticed that Cathay Pacific had an offer on to Auckland, for only £520 return including taxes, taking it to £620. Looking around, the next cheapest was Air New Zealand at £800 via LAX. As much as I would have loved to have tried the 777, was it really worth £180 to do so? I decided Cathay would be the way to go, and I wasted no time in booking it.

Our itinerary was to be:

LHR-HKG/Cathay Pacific 747-400
HKG-AKL/Cathay Pacific A340-300
AKL-NSN/Origin Pacific Jetstream 41
NSN-AKL/Air Nelson Saab 340
AKL-HKG/Cathay Pacific A340-300
HKG-LHR/Cathay Pacific A340-300

A couple of months later, there was a huge explosion/fire at the fuel depot serving LHR. Soon after the flight we were due to fly on from LHR-HKG was stopping at AMS to refuel. With a tight connection, this stop would mean us missing our connection from HKG. I monitored the situation and a pattern soon emerged – Tuesdays and Thursdays were going direct, the rest of the week it was via AMS. Great news as we were to fly on a Thursday!

Sure enough, a couple of days before I emailed Cathay Pacific who responded to confirm the CX250 would indeed go direct LHR-HKG on the day of our flight. Fantastic!

48 hours before (and not a minute later) I checked in online, reserving seats 65J/K for LHR-HKG. The online check-in was very simple and easy to use, although I was unable to check in for the onward flight until 48 hours before that flight (so the next morning). Check in for the HKG-AKL flight opened a couple of hours late, but I was able to reserve similar seats towards the back on this sector.

The day finally arrived, and after checking to see what aircraft we were on based on the inbound flight, as well as the essential last minute packing, we were soon in the car and heading down the motorway to London.

We arrived at Purple Parking near Heathrow at 2pm, but it was quite a way from the airport. I thought I had booked the Purple Parking on the airport, but it was actually in a housing estate in Hayes.

The minibus dropped us off at Terminal 3 at 2.30, and we headed straight to check in zone B to drop off our bags and collect our boarding passes. Check in was empty at this time, and we were invited to the business class check in to drop off our bags. My wife subtly hinted at the possibility of an upgrade by saying “I wish we were travelling in business class too”, but the check in agent just smiled back  Smile Never mind ‘eh!

We decided to head straight through to departures, as there wasn’t a lot to do landside in Terminal 3. The security line wasn’t too bad, within 10 minutes we were at the front. I beeped as I went through the machine and I got the old pat down!

We were a few hours early, so headed through to O’Neills Irish Bar for a drink or three before the flight.

Me with pint:


The time soon passed by, and before long the screen showed our flight as “Go to Gate 36”. Now it seems that Gate 36 is the furthest possible gate from Terminal 3, we had a good 15 minute walk to the gate. It seemed to be in the new part of the terminal, it was very swish and modern as we got there. We arrived at the gate at the same time as the cabin crew, they all headed down to board the 747.


A rather poor photo of our aircraft!

We made a quick phone call to Mum & Dad to say we were about to board, and we were then called for boarding.

Date: 19 January 2006
Flight: CX250
From: London (Heathrow)
To: Hong Kong (Chep Lap Kok)
STD: 18:05 ATD: 18:05 Take-Off: 18:45
STA: 14:05 ATA: 14:15 Touchdown: 14:05
Aircraft: Boeing 747-400
Registration: B-HOW
Seat: 65K



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Photo © David James Clelford



We boarded through door 2L, with business class to our left and the stairs to the upper deck on the right. A helpful FA directed us to our seats at the back.

Boy is there a long walk to the back of the plane on a 747! Load factor today looked about 80%, there were a few empty seats, resulting in the guy in 65H moving into the middle to be with his family, so we had the set of three to ourselves!

The seats were quite comfortable, although not a lot of room. Leg room was adequate, although the seats were very narrow and the seatbelts seemed shorter than on other airlines (or maybe that was just me). Normally I have plenty of slack (at least I did on an ERJ-145 a month ago), but today it was close to the limit. I know I haven’t put that much weight on over Christmas!  Smile

The aircraft was very clean, but was showing her age in places, such as the walls which were starting to yellow. Cathay’s 747s are a few years old now, but still in great shape other than that. My PTV had a problem with the display, whenever you switched channels it took about 10 minutes to “bed in”, with white stripes down the screen to start with!

Our captain for tonight’s flight was Al Robertson, an Australian guy who was very informative on our flight. We had a bit of a tailwind today which would bring our flight time down resulting in an early arrival, but the tailwind would mean it could get bumpy in places. The weather in Hong Kong was a warm 20 degrees and clear, which he said was “a big improvement over this stuff here”!

The flight attendants bought round an amenity kit, which consisted of a pair of socks, and a toothbrush/toothpaste. We were also handed headphones for the IFE.

Soon we were being pushed back as a Virgin A340 pulled onto the gate, and the safety video started. The FAs didn’t show us the exits, it was all done on the screen.

We started to taxi out to runway 27L, following a JAL 747 headed for Osaka. There were two Singapore Airlines flights departing as well, but one was on the south side of the runway. We queued for about 30 minutes as one after the other the other planes left, and we edged forward in the queue. Finally we pulled onto the runway, and takeoff thrust was applied. The takeoff roll was quite long as we were fully fuelled for a 12 hour flight, and we didn’t get airborne until past the terminals. We climbed out getting a good view of the Terminal 5 work, followed by the M25 which was queuing in the evening rush hour. We climbed over Reading and Windsor and turned eastward over the north of London.

Takeoff video
http://www.marshgiddings.com/aviation/LHRDeparture.zip


We climbed out over Cambridge and Suffolk, and headed out over the North Sea. I was desperate for the loo, so as soon as the seatbelt light went out I headed to the back toilets. I noticed the tiny staircase and ladder tucked away leading to the crew rest area upstairs right at the back! Shortly after we passed the Dutch coast and passed to the north of Amsterdam as the IFE started. I switched on the Dukes of Hazzard and watched as the crew bought round drinks. I opted for a glass of white wine. The wine was very nice, in a posh plastic glass with “Cathay Pacific” embossed into the bottom. We were also handed a menu.

Shortly after that the meal service started. I opted for the Beef Bourguignon, which came with mashed potato and carrots (although the menu stated rice). I was looking forward to tasting the freshly prepared rice, but it wasn’t going to happen on this flight! The meal was very well presented and tasty, it came on a gorgeous tray with bamboo handles, and we each got a little card in an envelope wishing us a happy Chinese New Year! A very nice touch we thought!

Meal:


I had some more wine with my meal, as we headed into the night. Our route took us across the north of Amsterdam, into Denmark and across the Baltic Sea into Latvia. We passed to the north of Riga, heading towards St Petersburg, at FL310. As we passed to the south of St Petersburg, we climbed to FL330. The cabin crew came round requesting we close out window blinds, even though sunrise wasn’t for several hours. I begrudgingly closed the blind, but half opened it every so often to keep an eye out!

We flew directly over the top of Volchov, before turning towards the east.

The plan for tonight was to stay awake on this flight as it was morning in New Zealand, and to sleep on the following flight, during the New Zealand night. There were plenty of movies and TV programs on Studio CX to keep me occupied, so hopefully I would last the night and sleep well on the next leg!

At 21:30 GMT, the cabin lights went out. A queue had started for the toilets at the rear of the aircraft, which lasted around half an hour before they had all dispersed. Lots of people were standing up and walking around in the aisle.

By this point we were starting to turn towards the south a fair distance to the north of Moscow, with around 8h30 left to run. I was keeping an eye out in case we caught the Northern Lights but to no avail!

The cabin crew came round regularly with drinks and snacks, including peanuts and at one point, an egg mayonnaise sandwich! I have to say the crew were one of the most attentive I have ever had, if we asked for something it came with a smile very quickly, for instance when we wanted a coke each. I watched “Kath & Kim” followed by The Office and The Simpsons to pass some time.

Inflight video:
http://www.marshgiddings.com/aviation/LHRHKGInflight.zip

By now we were approaching Siberia. What an amazing sight! It was completely clear with a bright moon. We could see all the snow on the ground lit up, and every so often a settlement. We would go half an hour without seeing anything then all of a sudden there was a cluster of towns! One thing I found interesting was that there would be nothing for miles and then a fire. There were dozens of these, they looked like huge bonfires in the night. Sometimes there were two together, but mostly just the one. They were definitely fires as they got brighter and darker, and you could see the smoke coming off of them!

We then heard the throttles spool up and we were pushed down into our seats. We climbed to FL365, although in Russian airspace of course the altitude is in metres. I presume the reason we were at FL365 is to match it with the metre value, i.e. 11100M.

Shortly after we climbed, I saw an aircraft approaching fast from the right, maybe 2000ft below. Closer inspection revealed it to be a Virgin A340, presumably on the Shanghai run.

We flew directly over Novosibirsk, getting an excellent view of the city all illuminated at night. Shortly after this, it started to get light. Within 15 minutes it was completely light out, and we got an excellent view of the snow covered mountains below.



Sunrise over Mongolia:


We passed the Russian border into Mongolia, and headed down towards Ulaan Batoor. The snow was starting to fade from the ground at this point, and the brown desert floor was starting to show.

The cabin crew passed round again with more drinks, as well as a little pack of biscuits.

We climbed up to FL375, as we headed towards the Chinese border. The temperature was -57C and we were cruising at a ground speed of 600mph. The tailwinds were 30mph at this stage, so we were starting to make up a little bit of time.

I spotted another aircraft out of the window, it approached very fast head on, but in the time it whizzed past it could quite clearly be identified as a China Eastern A320.

I closed the window at this point as it started to get very overcast and there was nothing to see. We hit quite a lot of moderate turbulence over China, at which point the fasten seat belt sign was switched on as well as the cabin lights. The crew came around with breakfast, which for us was a Fritatta with bacon and mushrooms, as well as a Mandarin flavour yoghurt and some fruit, which I didn’t eat.

Capt Robertson came back on the PA to announce we had made up some time in flight, but that the weather in Hong Kong wasn’t as nice as he’d promised earlier. It was now overcast in Hong Kong and they’d had heavy rain. Visibility was poor. He said Hong Kong was very busy as we were arriving at peak time, and that we’d have a 10 minute holding pattern before going in.

As the cabin crew collected the trays in from the breakfast service, connections information was displayed on the Airshow channel. It listed all the connecting flights out of HKG, which gate they were going from and their latest status, which I thought was a nice touch.

We headed down to the South China Sea, before circling at 6000ft. We then started our approach in, entering the cloud at 5000ft. It was very bumpy in the cloud and visibility was very poor, you couldn’t see the wing most of the time. We emerged from the cloud into heavy rain about 2 miles out on final approach. We were inbound for runway 7L, over the South China Sea. There were a couple of boats mad enough to be out in that weather! Just when we thought we would get our feet wet, the ground flashed up underneath us. We touched down quite firmly, and slowed with the reversers open but not throttled up. We exited quite speedily to the right, and watched a Cathay A340 land behind us.

Landing at HKG:
http://www.marshgiddings.com/aviation/LHRHKGLanding.zip

Our stand today was 28 which was on the other side of the terminal, giving us a good taxi past the parked aircraft. The first aircraft I saw were an Air Atlanta Cargo 747, with a Kalitta 747. We then taxied round and saw an Atlas Air, as well as dozens of Cathay Pacific aircraft. Anyone would think they had a base here  Wink

We pulled onto stand, waited a few seconds and shut down the engines. As people were getting out of their seats, the baggage was already being offloaded. Very efficient!

We made our way into the airport to head for gate 2, where our A340 was awaiting.

Hong Kong is of course a modern airport, but it is very dull inside. It doesn’t have the huge open spaces of KUL/SIN, but is clean and functional.

As we walked in, my first gems of our holiday became visible - an Air China 737 and a China Eastern A320. On getting home I realised I have a photo of the very same Air China 737 at East Midlands, after being repainted from BMI Baby colours! Never mind eh!







I took photos and we then had to queue for security again. There was quite a long queue, mostly transit passengers by the looks of it.

After security we had quite a long walk to gate 2. Waiting at the gate was B-HXE, our A340.

I managed to take quite a few photos from here, the highlights being two Vietnam Airlines A320s. The Air Canada A340-500s were sat at the far end of the ramp, the rest being occupied by Cathay Pacific. From gate 2 you get a good view of aircraft climbing out on runway 7R. Unfortunately the visibility was very poor and there was low cloud – most aircraft had entered the cloud before they got close. The exception was the Emirates SkyCargo 747, which took off quite sedately giving a good opportunity for a photo.

I noticed outside there was what appeared to be a Cathay Pacific tail, although of no recognised aircraft, out towards the car parks. Weird!



I sent Jafa39 a text message to let him know we were about to board B-HXE, and he replied saying “See you at AKL!”  Smile

Date: 20 January 2006
Flight: CX117
From: Hong Kong (Chep Lap Kok)
To: Auckland
STD: 15:35 ATD: 15:40 Take-Off: 16:05
STA: 07:35 ATA: 07:35 Touchdown: 07:20
Aircraft: Airbus A340-300
Registration: B-HXE
Seat: 67K



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Photo © Paul Spijkers



Our aircraft being prepped for departure:


We just happened to look up and notice our flight was boarding – and the line was halfway down the pier! We joined at the rear and moved steadily towards the front. At least it beats crowding round the gate like they do back home!

As we were about to board, a Chinese man stood blocking the jetway, while he tried to find newspaper he wanted. We couldn’t get past so stood for a couple of minutes while he routed through them all. He eventually moved on to board, but as we made our way toward the back of the aircraft he then decided to hold up the entire line of people while he put all his belongings in the overhead locker, one by one. He then looked up as if to say “What are you staring at” before his wife pulled him into his seat!

We got to our row to find an older Chinese couple occupying our seats. We looked at our boarding pass and I said to Rachel “I think this is our row, 67”. The lady looked up and said “Ahhh… these you seats?” to which we said yes. They then sauntered across to the middle where they sat giving us dirty looks during the taxi out. Don’t try that one with me matey, you won’t win  Smile

Today’s flight was 100% full in all classes, the contingent consisting of around 70% Chinese, 15% Kiwis and 15% British.

The A340 we thought was more comfortable than the 747. The seats were comfy, with a permanent wrap around headrest rather than the one that doesn’t stay up on the 747s. The PTVs were newer and crystal clear.

The safety demo was done on the screens again, I took a photo of the video:



Today’s captain was a South African guy, although we didn’t catch his name. The first officer was an English name, and they also had “Harry Chan, who the captain was going to let ‘have a go’ in a bit”. Lucky guy!

We started our taxi out to the active in the heavy rain. Stars of the ramp for me were the two Hong Kong Express ERJs, and a Dragonair A320. We were followed out by a Gulf Air A340, a China Eastern A340 and a Lufthansa A340. The taxi on the A340 was incredibly smooth, we didn’t even feel as though we were moving!

We had quite a long wait for takeoff in the rain, but eventually we lined up on runway 7L for departure. I was anticipating a sluggish takeoff in the A340, and it didn’t surprise me there.

Takeoff from HKG:
http://www.marshgiddings.com/aviation/HKGAKLDeparture.zip

The engines spooled up to full throttle, and were roaring away. Looking out of the window we started to edge forward slightly, then a bit more, then a bit more. It took a long time to get to V1, and when we did, we rotated very sedately into the rain clouds. Shortly after takeoff a mobile phone rang and somebody answered it. Surprisingly the FAs didn’t raise an eyelid, but I suppose they were fastened in for takeoff.

We climbed through the bumpy cloud out over the South China Sea, heading towards Manila, home of the envelope.  Wink The IFE started as we approached the Philippines, and we were again offered a drink and peanuts with the menu.

We decided to watch “The 40 Year Old Virgin” which was quite funny.

We got a stunning view of the Philippines as we passed overhead, with the sun setting on the calm South China Sea.





Dinner was served, I opted for the Fussilli.



Shortly after passing Manila we flew overhead Cebu, and this is where I dropped off to sleep.

I woke up as we had just passed the equator. We were now in Indonesia, heading for Papua New Guinea with 6 hours to run until New Zealand. We got up to stretch our legs, and my arm which I had been sleeping on since Hong Kong, and was now in a lot of pain. We took a right turn which took us down to the northern tip of Queensland, Australia, and over Oz to the north of Cairns. It was the middle of the night and the place looked deserted, so there was absolutely nothing to see. I could imagine the odd Aborigine or kangaroo looking up to watch us pass overhead  Smile

It started to get very turbulent again, which lasted for a couple of hours. The seatbelt sign remained on for a while. I debated whether to sleep or not, it was now 2AM in Auckland, and I was wide awake. If I stayed awake I would have to stay awake as long as possible until we hit our hotel room later that day. At least I’d had a few hours sleep and was pretty much “in the time zone” now. We took this opportunity to fill in our landing cards for New Zealand, basically along the lines of “we don’t want none of that foreign fruit coming in mate”.

Inflight video:
http://www.marshgiddings.com/aviation/HKGAKLInflight.zip


It was such a clear night over Queensland, the stars looked absolutely amazing. On the ground in the middle of the deserted wilderness appeared a sole light. I wondered how quiet it must be there, and whether you would have this beautiful backdrop of stars every night. Who was it? Was it a farm maybe, or even some sort of Aborigine settlement? I can’t help but think it must be a beautiful life down there.

We continued on track towards Cairns, with darkness still enveloping the outback below us. We flew about 2 hours overhead Queensland, a few towns started to appear. The towns grew larger in size, before the city of Cairns appeared below us, lit up in an electric early-morning glow. We hung a right here, and proceeded off the coast towards Brisbane. We were a good way off the coast, but the Australian coastline looked beautiful in darkness. We flew over Whitsunday Island and it was another couple of hours until we hit Brisbane.

We took a left turn here, as we hit some more hard turbulence. The fasten-seat belt light came on, and again the cabin lights were switched on. I love this period of a long flight – after hours of silence and darkness, there is a hive of activity as meals start, lights come on, captain makes announcements, and the whole scene is reminiscent of us being “nearly there”.

Sure enough, the captain came on to say we were a couple of hours out, and the weather was mild and sunny at 16C, for 7am not bad at all!

Breakfast was served, it was a choice of Chilli Noodles or Spinach Omelette (no, not Spanish Omelette). I must admit the Chilli Noodles sounded tempting for 7am, a brilliant way to start the day after a night of sleep, but I opted for the Spinach Omelette. Yet again, ours were the last English breakfasts left. The people behind us were treated to Chilli for breakfast. I wonder why they don’t see realise that flying to either the UK or NZ don’t always want Chilli, and why they don’t put a higher proportion of western meals on those flights.



Over the Tasman Sea:


While we were eating breakfast, we were treated to a cheesy grainy video about what we couldn’t take into the country, and how we risked a $200 fine if we didn’t declare anything. There was suddenly a hive of activity on the left side of the aircraft, we were passing the northern tip of New Zealand, and flying down the “sticky outy bit” at the top. We still had a view of open water. The descent began as the crew collected the breakfast pots. The flight crew must have really favoured the left side today, as we hugged the coastline on the left until about 5 minutes before touchdown. Finally, the seat belt signs came on for the last time, as we passed the coastline for our first sight of New Zealand! My first impression was how empty the whole place was – just miles and miles of green rolling hills, with lots of sheep scattered about. Next thing we know the pilot is going in for the Aerobatics Championships in an A340. The aircraft suddenly banked very sharply and quickly left, the right wing was at a pretty substantial angle to the ground and looking left was straight down onto rooftops! My wife thought the pilot was going in for a barrel roll!  Wink

We levelled off and began our final approach. The approach was initially over farmland, before hitting the sea. We were approaching at a speed of 130mph over the ground, which in real terms equates to around 115-120 knots! Either there was a substantial headwind today or the pilot was trying to bump up his hours! We came in over the sea as a few crests were showing on the sea, but all in all if we were going to land short it wasn’t difficult swimming conditions.

As we started to get close the aircraft suddenly increased speed, and the ground at the end of the runway flashed by in an instant before we were flying very fast over the threshold. Radio towers flashed past and we slammed down onto the runway (I mean slammed). On the video you can see the smoke from the tyres flashing by! We bounced a good way into the air, and I was thinking “Cool we’re getting a go around!”. We then hesitated while the pilot thought “Hmmm, so are we down or not”, and before he had finished thinking this we slammed into the ground again, there was another delayed reaction before the spoilers went up and no reverse thrust was used. We took a long time slowing down, and we before long we were still at a good speed, approaching the other end of the runway.

See the landing for yourself:
http://www.marshgiddings.com/aviation/HKGAKLLanding.zip

I guess this must have been Harry Chan’s landing then, pretty hairy stuff! We took a left at the other end of the runway, as I got my camera ready for some kiwi delights on the taxi in!

And boy was I in for some good photo material!

Firstly were two Air New Zealand Link Saab 340s, perfectly positioned for photos. After that were a row of Islanders and Trislanders of Great Barrier Airways. Then was an Air Chathams Convair 580, poking out of a hangar. There were several NZ Post Fokker F27s, before we reached the domestic terminal. Outside here were an Origin Pacific Jetstream 41, as well as a couple of NZ 737s. Sitting on the international ramp were an Air New Zealand A320 in Star Alliance colours, a QF 767 and 2 747s, and a Freedom Air 737.











We pulled into the gate alongside one of the QF 747s, as the engines were shut down. Everyone got up from their seats while we stood around while the snobs up front disembarked from their royal world. Finally, we started to move slowly towards the front. For the second time in as many flights, I noticed that while the back cabin was tidy, as you move towards the front the cabins get filthier until you get to the front cabin where there is rubbish, pillows and blankets strewn everywhere. I wondered what the difference was between the front and the back! We walked up the jetway into the terminal. AKL gets a lot of stick from kiwis, but inside it is quite nice. It’s clean, pleasant and not at all as bad as a lot of airports I’ve been inside. We queued for passport control first. The line was long but moved pretty quickly. Interestingly, there were a group of greeters who worked for the airport, making sure everyone went in the right queue. The attitudes of the immigration people varied, from the older woman who shouted “Who’s nixt ploise”, the younger woman who shouted “Nixt thanks” (I thought it was next please), and the bloke who simply shouted “Nixt!”
He was treated to a Chinese chap who spoke hardly any English, didn’t know whether he lived in New Zealand, China or Hong Kong, couldn’t remember where he worked or what he was going into the country for. Poor guy was probably intimidated, and out of all of the guys this one was the one I would have least preferred to be my first kiwi to talk to!  Wink He got through in the end so his story must have matched up. We got the nice older woman, who’s first words were “Welcome to New Zealand, how was your flight?”. How nice! She wanted to see our return tickets, we passed her the Cathay Pacific email and she said thanks it was fine. She went to the first empty space in our passports (on the first page) and stamped right above our Malaysia stamps. Perfectly straight and in line with the edge of the page – how cool!

She bid us a nice day and we went through to the baggage claim. Another woman overheard us mention baggage claim 5 and came up to us. “Are you from the NZ5?” “No we’re the CX117”. “Ah no worries, you’re on belt 5”. Another nice kiwi!

We caught sight of our bags disappearing into the inner workings of the airport on the baggage belt, so I headed for the bit where they come out. It wasn’t long before they were coming out again. I made the mistake of lifting one of them with my left hand – and promptly dropping the case as a result. My arm was still caining from the flight, it felt like I had pulled a tendon. Just what we needed for the first day of our trip!

We took our cases towards an area where a cute dog was sniffing around people’s cases for rogue fruit. It was interesting that almost all of the “guards” were large Samoan/Maori guys – certainly not people you’d want to mess with!

The Beagle paid attention to several bags which were searched by hand, but nothing came as a result. We had a lady with a Labrador come to us, but the woman didn’t seem too impressed when we started to fuss the dog! He could probably smell ours on us, he was certainly having a good old sniff!

“Carry on” we were told, and we handed our cards in at a desk where we had to again place our entire luggage on a conveyor belt to be X-Rayed. After we had redressed and got our bags all on the trolley again, there was a sign that said “Kia Ora – Welcome To New Zealand”. I wasn’t sure whether felt like singing either Hallelujah or the old Kia Ora advert “I’ll be your dawwgggg!”. We emerged alone into a large crowd of people. It was time to look for our chauffeur, Mr Jafa39. Having seen his picture on A.net there were a lot of people standing there that all looked like Jafa-clones. It was like stepping out of a UFO in a cloud of steam – there were no other passengers, just loads of people watching us.

Suddenly, in the distance I heard a “Noel!” and I was blinded by a bright orange and pink shirt stepping out from the crowd. Dressed in bright shirt, shorts and bare feet, I couldn’t help but thinking how cool this place was (apart from the shirt)! We emerged into the car park in the morning heat. It was now 21C and the forecast was for 25C today.

We walked out to the waiting chariot and within half an hour were stepping out from our car into the Crowne Plaza, opposite the Sky Tower in downtown Auckland.

The Crowne Plaza Auckland is a great hotel, the club floor is fantastic, and our room on it had fantastic views across Auckland and the gulf from the 28th floor. You’re really close to everything, everything’s within a 5 minute walk of the hotel.

We spent the remainder of Saturday wandering around the city, and went for lunch on the waterfront. We slept well that night, before being woken at 5.30am by the fire alarm. The entire building was evacuated as a group of British guys had been out drinking, came back and set off the dry powder fire extinguisher on the 18th floor. We had to walk down 28 flights of stairs to the ground floor. The entire building was standing out on the street, while 6 fire engines, a skylift, three police cars and for some reason an ambulance sat outside. The culprits were plucked out and taken upstairs to their floor in handcuffs with the police. I really hoped they got what was coming to them for that!

That day was the DC3 flight, Jafa39’s trip report of which is here:
Jafa39 & The Noelg's DC3 Over AKL (Lucky Buggers!) (by Jafa39 Jan 22 2006 in Trip Reports)


Monday we spent the morning at Auckland Zoo and the afternoon up the coast driving around the Stanmore Bay area and spending time on the beach. Tuesday we caught the edge of a tropical storm so the day was incredibly windy and rainy, before it started to clear around 5.30pm.

Next trip reports for this trip coming soon!

Cheers,
Noel

11 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineJafa39 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (8 years 5 months 2 weeks 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 12595 times:

Quoting Noelg (Thread starter):
As much as I would have loved to have tried the 777,

You'd have been dissapointed then, 777 only goes from SFO at present

Quoting Noelg (Thread starter):
essential last minute packing

Is there any other sort??  Smile

Quoting Noelg (Thread starter):
On the ground in the middle of the deserted wilderness appeared a sole light.

I saw that, or one like it on my HKG-AKL flight.

Quoting Noelg (Thread starter):
flying down the “sticky outy bit” at the top.

Northland dear boy, Northland!  Smile

Quoting Noelg (Thread starter):
if we were going to land short it wasn’t difficult swimming conditions

Have you seen the 7m Great White that turned up in Manukau Harbour last week??  Wink

Quoting Noelg (Thread starter):
Chinese chap who spoke hardly any English, didn’t know whether he lived in New Zealand, China or Hong Kong, couldn’t remember where he worked or what he was going into the country for. Poor guy was probably intimidated,

Or a bad guy, this sort of reply usually ends in a long time in a small cubicle while stories are checked, in Australia he would have got the Spanish Inquisition.

Quoting Noelg (Thread starter):
(apart from the shirt)!

That shirt is HOT!!  Smile


Excellent report, I'll forgive you the food pics as you're a decent bloke and you bought me beers  Wink  Wink

Looking forward to Pt 2!!


User currently offlineRSW Sergio E From United States of America, joined May 2002, 18 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (8 years 5 months 2 weeks 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 12587 times:
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Great report, loved the pictures and videos.

User currently offline777ER From New Zealand, joined Dec 2003, 12082 posts, RR: 18
Reply 3, posted (8 years 5 months 2 weeks 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 12466 times:
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FORUM MODERATOR

Quoting Noelg (Thread starter):
I was blinded by a bright orange and pink shirt stepping out from the crowd. Dressed in bright shirt, shorts and bare feet, I couldn’t help but thinking how cool this place was (apart from the shirt)!

LOL

Quoting Jafa39 (Reply 1):
Quoting Noelg (Thread starter):
if we were going to land short it wasn’t difficult swimming conditions

Have you seen the 7m Great White that turned up in Manukau Harbour last week??

Now now, no need for scare tactics


User currently offline777daedalus From Brazil, joined Oct 2005, 29 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (8 years 5 months 2 weeks 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 12411 times:

What a splendid post! I followed your progress through Europe, Asia and Australasia with Google's Mapquest... Big grin

How did you fare with the time change and your strategy to stay up the first leg and sleep the second? It looks like your seats were in similar parts of the aircraft on both the 744 and A343. Was there much difference in noise factor? I keep hearing wonders about the sweet and silent A340s.

I hope you enjoyed your trip in the antipodean summer. I will be sure to check in soon!!!

Cheers!  Cool


User currently offline777ER From New Zealand, joined Dec 2003, 12082 posts, RR: 18
Reply 5, posted (8 years 5 months 2 weeks 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 12350 times:
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Quoting Noelg (Thread starter):
and a Freedom Air 737.

Freedom Air doesn't operate any B733s now. Their final B733 was replaced by a new A320 last month. NZ thou operates an Ex SJ B733 on domestic that is still painted in the full SJ yellow livery but without the sun on the tail and the name


User currently offlineKiwiandrew From New Zealand, joined Jun 2005, 8539 posts, RR: 13
Reply 6, posted (8 years 5 months 2 weeks 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 12219 times:
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awesome report mate - I haven't flown CX since 1992 but I want to again after reading your TR ... just heading off now to read part 2


Moderation in all things ... including moderation ;-)
User currently offlineZRHnerd From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (8 years 5 months 2 weeks 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 12084 times:

Brilliant report Big grin A friend of mine just returned back home after living in AKL for one year, he didnt tell me anything but positive about the city and the country.

User currently offlineNoelg From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (8 years 5 months 2 weeks 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 11829 times:

Quoting Jafa39 (Reply 1):
You'd have been dissapointed then, 777 only goes from SFO at present

I think it was actually via SFO - it was a long while ago!  Wink

Quoting Jafa39 (Reply 1):
Northland dear boy, Northland!

It's still the "sticky outy bit"!  Wink I'm not living there yet, I'm still a pom remember!

Quoting Jafa39 (Reply 1):
That shirt is HOT!!

Hmmm, I think the jury's still out on that one!  Wink

Quoting 777daedalus (Reply 4):
How did you fare with the time change and your strategy to stay up the first leg and sleep the second?

Worked pretty well, we weren't jetlagged at all when we arrived, although we had a little kip in the afternoon. Coming back was a killer, we were worn out for a couple of days. I guess I still have to work on the westbound strategy!

Quoting 777daedalus (Reply 4):
Was there much difference in noise factor? I keep hearing wonders about the sweet and silent A340s.

In the rear of the aircraft, absolutely none at all. It was pretty noisy in both. I was dissappointed that sitting here there is no sound of the engines spooling, just a loud roar. Having said that, the back is a great place to sit, you can see the trails and there are far fewer other people there. It just sway a little in turbulence as well, but this is conducive to better sleep!


User currently offlineKLM685 From Mexico, joined May 2005, 1577 posts, RR: 19
Reply 9, posted (8 years 5 months 2 weeks 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 11785 times:

Truly an amazing report!! Took me a while to read it but it was worth it. Your narrative is amazing dude!

I've always been excited about going to New Zealand someday, but with your trip report i'll sure go as soon as i can!


Cheers!! and again thanks for the Trip Report!

Alonso



KLM- The Best Airline in the World!
User currently offlineChris78cpr From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2004, 2819 posts, RR: 51
Reply 10, posted (8 years 5 months 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 10822 times:

Noel,

Great report, can you tell me where you found the cheap fare as i've never seen any like that to AKL. I'm looking right now and can only find £800-£900!

Chris



5D2/7D/1D2(soon to be a 1Dx) 17-40L/24-105L/70-200F2.8L/100-400L/24F1.4LII/50F1.2L/85F1.2LII
User currently offlineNoelg From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (8 years 5 months 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 10719 times:

Quoting Chris78cpr (Reply 10):
can you tell me where you found the cheap fare as i've never seen any like that to AKL

A random browse of CX's website - they frequently have offers on, right now they have LHR-AKL for £459 + tax travelling HKG-LHR leg on CX257/CX253/CX255 between 12 Apr-15 Jun, £489 01Nov-07Dec, travel before 23 March for £499 etc etc - take a look at:

http://www.cathaypacific.com/uk/offe...ine/0,,42047-133492-134356,00.html

for their UK-Oz/NZ special offers. You can get to Oz for £379 + tax!! Pretty good offers for a good airline!


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