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Christchurch AKL Again With Pics!

Thu May 12, 2005 3:03 pm

I was at the airport waiting to fly down to Christchurch for a coupla days, one of the random weirdness’s to be encountered on NZ Domestic flights are large tour groups of Asians. One tries hard not to stereotype (except when the evidence supports it!) this lot fulfilled all my expectations.

Large crowds of tourists seem to exist separately from the rest of the world. If you are on a plane that is ferrying one to somewhere you suddenly find the departure lounge goes from calm and lounge-like into utter chaos in seconds. The group appears from nowhere and always seem to be talking very loudly and milling around looking both purposeful and yet lost, clutching many cameras and the ubiquitous plastic carrier-bags full of god-knows-what. Queuing and all things orderly appear alien to them.

There is always a grumpy stout lady with what looks like a back-stage pass round her neck trying to organise people and she is almost always ignored.

On this occasion the Qantas FA, a very tall eastern European, who was attempting to restore order was surrounded by the tour party but none of them were actively interacting with him, they were just milling around his console and computer engaged in their own conversations and wild gesticulations, the noise was soo bad you couldn’t hear yourself think. His small but perfectly formed assistant caught my eye and flashed me her most dazzling smile, shrugged and tried to compose herself.

The Qantas Guy stood up tall(er) and said (loudly)

“please be quiet and sit down”….nothing happened…”Pleeesae be quiet and sit down!”….no change…..he tried another tack and bellowed:

“Sit the f**k down and for f**ks sake shut up!”

Or words to that effect, in Chinese and just to cover all bases, he did it in Korean too.

There was a stunned silence and all faces turned to him, an effect that can be replicated by clapping your hands (once and loudly) in a barn full of chickens.

Order was restored until the time for boarding came, this as you may well know is done by filling the plane from the back to the front and the rows are called in order.

As the first rows were called there was a stampede and many stout people clutching their carrier bags surged towards the air bridge.

The Qantas guy was looking at boarding cards and physically turning the members of the tour party around through 180 degrees and propelling them back away from the air bridge like so many clockwork toys, only to have them return. Those who were in the correct order were allowed on and after a few minutes of this he yelled:

“For f**k’s sake people, rows 23-11 only please!” (again in two Asian languages).

It went quite again, I was looking at him in profile and couldn’t see into the air bridge, he turned, looked down the tunnel and waved his hand at something invisible (to me):

“Go on, shoo! Go, ON! Get on the bloody plane!”

A quick glance revealed a gaggle of carrier bag wielding tour party members standing looking forlornly back up the air bridge to the departure lounge huddled together as if for safety.

Another burst of Chinese/Korean and the long march started.

We eventually boarded.

The flight was memorable, the weather was perfect and we flew at around 20,000’ which is low compared to the 28-32,000’ used by Air NZ (Jets are more economical at altitude so no doubt the FAA in NZ has tried to make Qantas uncompetitive by giving them a lower flight lane on this route).

We passed directly over Mt Taranaki, an extinct (so the locals hope) volcano and got the most stunning views, I took some pics, they didn’t come out brilliant but one is attached so you can get the idea.

The views down the coast and over the Southern Alps were just jaw-dropping

As we passed over one large typical South Island River, all braided and alluvial I decided that I would go and stand in one and mill about in the flood plain as soon as the opportunity presented itself.

Which is what I did, on day two of my trip I had 2.5 hrs between meetings so I checked the map and drove off west until I found the tiny village of Kirwee. I then headed Nth and found a gate marked “Anglers Access” I spent 10 mins off-roading in my hire car and just when I thought I was going to need a helicopter to get out, I arrived at the river where thankfully there was an area of compacted stones to park on and turn round, as the track up to that point was only about a Land-Rover wide!

I spent just over half an hour taking pictures, swimming, sunbathing (it was 29 degrees centigrade) and generally soaking up the ambience that can only be found when one is miles from the nearest human. The murmuring of the river was very soothing and as I lay there gazing over the Canterbury Plains to the Southern Alps I fell asleep for a bit.

Which is why I arrived at my next meeting 15 mins late, barefoot and covered in sand but this is NZ and I was a Pom (been here 2 years) and for the next year or so I will be able to get away with such eccentricities (barefoot is however compulsory) until I have a year-round tan and my vowels become irrevocably distorted (“Sind us a Tixt Chrustine, and I will git tha fush and chops, bro”).

Now don’t let me give you the impression that Christchurch is paradise, it nearly is but the Motel I had was the foulest yet, everything that wasn’t gloss beige was a kind of nicotine/baby poo colour, it was dark and smelly and the Sky TV was disconnected ( A major sin in NZ Motels) it also had porno videos for rent at reception, not under-the-counter but there on display, in yer face, with titles like “Anal Alien, Scotty’s Butt Fest” and other tacky dross.

I fully expected a knock on the door in the night and the enquiry, “massage sir?”.

Getting home again was a bit of a mission; I arrived at the airport in good time and stuck my credit card into the express check-in kiosk, instead of a boarding pass I got a voucher asking me to go to the manual check-in as there was a problem. My flight was via Wellington to Auckland.

“There seems to be a problem with my flight”

“Let me see….yes..hmm….Wellington is marginal”

“I know that but what’s wrong with my flight?”

“Oh, sorry, Wellington is marginal for take-off and landing, due to fog, they may or may not close it in the next hour”

“Oh, what happens if we take off but Wellington is shut”

“You come back here”

“Ah, er…um..I really don’t need to be here in the morning”

“There is a later, direct, flight, you are a frequent flyer, we can move you to that one free of charge but it doesn’t leave for 2 and a half hours”

“I’ll take it”

I am not a gambling man and if watching those films like “Planes Trains and Automobiles” has taught me anything it is to always take the first guaranteed flight out of wherever you are.

Some people took the gamble and lost, they shut Wellington and plane loads of grumpy people were being returned to Christchurch. I sat in the pub watching the planes return and the sun setting over the Southern Alps, smugly patting my boarding pass and drinking “Copperhop Ale”.

Ha ha, I won!

The time passed quickly enough and the BLT sandwich was the best ever so I calmly made my way to the gate and noted that Air NZ appeared to have borrowed a Freedom Air 737 for one of the AKL flights, “must be chaos in WLG” I mused

To my surprise we had a Woman Pilot on the flight (I mean actually flying not a passenger) in my 31 years of flights and who knows how many domestic NZ trips, this was my first female pilot.

She did fly differently from most male pilots, giving it major thrust on take-off, nearly standing the 737 on end (I love enthusiastic pilots) but the landing was more like an international flight, none of this lob-it-at-the-ground-and-bugger-off-home-for-tea of the Qantas pilots or the sharp banking turns of the Air NZ ones, showing off to the shoppers at Manukau Plaza, this was a gentle and very controlled descent, almost a glide, settling into the approach run from way out over the Hunua’s it seemed, maybe she had had a blonde moment and forgot to fill up with gas but it was very gentle and very nice and I emerged from the air bridge into utter chaos at Auckland, lots of delayed flights and grumpy business men but I slipped through undetected, happy to be home and not curled up in a corner in Christchurch fending off the massage girls and boys (and girlyboys!) in some manky Motel.

Carpe Diem!!
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Topic Author
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RE: Christchurch AKL Again With Pics!

Thu May 12, 2005 3:06 pm

Yes, this the same report again but I wanted to upload the pics and try out photobucket.

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RE: Christchurch AKL Again With Pics!

Thu May 12, 2005 3:12 pm

The pics have made the report even nicer to read and enjoy
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RE: Christchurch AKL Again With Pics!

Thu May 12, 2005 3:15 pm

Great photo's. Really amazing scenery.
Good stuff  Smile
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RE: Christchurch AKL Again With Pics!

Fri May 13, 2005 4:41 am

Hmmm...there's an echo in here...!

Yes, I know it's the same report as before but with photos  silly  ...and very nice they are too. I wish I could spend time somewhere like that between meetings - the best scenery I get is standing outside in the car park having a quick smoke whilst watching the Eurostar trains head off for their journeys under the sea.

One of these days I must haul my a*se off to NZ - I want to add tales of landing at WLG (note..."WLG"!) to my portfolio of flight anecdotes...oh, and to see what seems to be a beautiful country too...ermmm, bro  hyper  .
Ladies & gentlemen this is Captain Tobias Wilcock welcoming you aboard Coconut Airways flight 372 to Bridgetown Barb
Topic Author
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RE: Christchurch AKL Again With Pics!

Fri May 13, 2005 5:51 am

Quoting BAViscount (Reply 4):
One of these days I must haul my a*se off to NZ

Be prepared to come back a changed man.....Bro.
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RE: Christchurch AKL Again With Pics!

Fri May 13, 2005 11:42 am

Your flights remind me of my visit to NZ in late May 1994. Shortly upon my arrival from LAX to AUK, (UA) I took a NZ flight to Christchurch. It was on a lightly loaded 737, got a window seat on the right side, and was wowed by the views of southern part of the North Island and down the spine of the northern and central part of the South Island. One of the great flights in terms of view in my life.
I would spend the next 2 weeks, half driving around the South Island - Christchurch, Dundein, TeAnu, Queensland, along the west coast to Pictin; then the ferry to Wellington, then the latter half of my stay in another car drive through the center of the North Island eventually to Auckland. Still consider it to be one of my best travel experiences.
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RE: Christchurch AKL Again With Pics!

Fri May 13, 2005 3:07 pm

Quoting LTBEWR (Reply 6):
and was wowed by the views

True, Never ceases to amaze me just how sparsely populated parts of NZ are!
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RE: Christchurch AKL Again With Pics!

Sat May 14, 2005 5:30 am

Quoting Jafa39 (Thread starter):
“Let me see….yes..hmm….Wellington is marginal”

“I know that but what’s wrong with my flight?”

Classic, even for those of us who've never been to NZ.

(We can just fill in the name of some other marginal place...I'll be kind and not list any, except for the blindingly obvioius - Milton Keynes - and thankfully MK doesn't have an airport, because if it did with my luck I'd get diverted there some day.)

Beautiful pictures! Ever since the "Lord of The Rings" movies, I've really, REALLY wanted to go to NZ...it looks like a truly stunning place.

(And I could go snowboarding in July! Of course, it's hard to justify such a trip for someone of such limited snowboarding ability as me, but I'm still tempted...)
Topic Author
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RE: Christchurch AKL Again With Pics!

Sun May 15, 2005 7:47 am

Quoting ExFATboy (Reply 8):
it's hard to justify such a trip

Your ability to party hearty afterwards is far more important than your snowboarding skills!!  Wink
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RE: Christchurch AKL Again With Pics!

Mon May 16, 2005 2:43 am

Nice report, I have had a similar experience on my trip from AKL-CHC in QF. I am talking about the scenic beauty of NZ and not the Chinese or Korean passengers.


An airplane might disappoint any pilot but it'll never surprise a good one.

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