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Journey to New Zealand

 

Getting there

March 2 - 4

The trip started on the 2nd of March, when I went to Hickam Air Force Base to join a group of people who were to be my fellow travelers. All together, our group had 17 people; 16 tourists and a guide. We would spend 8 days traveling around the southern part of New Zealand's South Island by bus, exploring the wonders this country has.

We took a bus from Hickam to Honolulu International Airport. From there we were going to get on a plane bound for Nadi, Fiji. Our flight left about 30 minutes after midnight, on the morning of March 3rd.

It was a long flight -- about 4000 miles -- and it took about 8 hours. We got to Nadi around 5:30 AM on March 4th. I know that sounds wrong, but it isn't. As we flew west from Hawaii, we crossed the international dateline. As soon as we did, we "lost" what was left of March 3rd, because it was March 4th then.

We didn't stay long in Fiji. At 6:45 AM we flew off to Auckland, New Zealand.

Auckland to Christchurch

March 4

Auckland is located on the northwestern part of the north island. It's the largest city in New Zealand, and some people say it is a lot like San Diego. I don't know if that's true or not, because I haven't been to San Diego in over 20 years, and I wasn't able to go to the heart of Auckland. I had to stay at the airport to get on the flight that was going to take us the Christchurch. We had to wait about 2 hours for that flight.

The flight to Christchurch was short. We left Auckland at 1:30 PM and arrived in Christchurch at 2:50 PM. After we arrived, we had to go through Immigration to get a visitor's visa. Then we picked up our baggage, cleared through Customs, and walked to a bus that was waiting for us.

We got to see a little of Christchurch's sights from the bus as we made our way from the airport to our hotel. It was a beautiful, sunny summer afternoon, and we enjoyed our first real look at New Zealand.

Christchurch

Christchurch is located midway down the east coast of the south island. About 1/3 of all the people who live on the south island live here.

Christchurch is known as the garden city. As we rode in to town it was easy to understand why -- there were flower garden everywhere. Just about every house we passed had a lovely garden, and there were flowers planted in traffic circles (roundabouts), in parks and city squares, and around businesses and factories, too.

As we were riding to the hotel, we saw a big craft fair and asked our bus driver to stop and let us explore for a while. This fair takes place every weekend at the Christchurch Arts Center. Some people had manufactured merchandise like shirts and hats, but most of the people were selling hand made things: wooden bowls, pictures they painted, jewelry they made from silver and stones, items made from sea shells . . . even cakes and candy they made at home.

We spent about 30 minutes here, and then went on to our hotel. Our hotel was northeast of the center of town, but it was only a 10 minute walk from the hotel to the central business district.

 

March 4

March 5

March 6

March 7

March 8

March 9

March 10

March 11