Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Entering New Zealand
Well, we were here!
The plane taxied to the gate for us to exit and we realised that Auckland airport was more like Luton than Heathrow!
The seatbelt on lights went out as the plane docked and the air hostess's opened open the planes doors.
We gathered up Mackenzie and Freya, along with the four pieces of hand luggage we had brought on and shuffled towards the plane exit, me manically checking we had all the passports ;-)
As we stepped into the walkway we said goodbye to the hostess's who were cooing over the children saying how polite they had been. Mackenzie and Freya waved goodbye and started to walk down to the Immigration desks.
When we got to the desks we were waved through to a shorter queue for people with special needs or small children.
We approached the Immigration officer at her desk, I produced the passports and the immigration documents we had to complete during the last flight, the lady was friendly and asked us if we had been here before as she ran our passports through the readers to check our visa's; she smiled when we said we had not!
All was in order and she welcomed us and wished us all good luck.
We moved on to the next stage, collecting all the luggage, and clearing MAF (Customs). As we arrived at the conveyor belts I spotted on of my bags on the floor already as I approached to pick it up, a MAF officer with a beagle dog came up to me , she said the dog had picked up the scent of something and she needed to check the bag. Great!
She checked the bag and no illegal contraband was to be found, she asked when I had used the bag and what had been in it, I had not used it for a while and was as puzzled she was as the dog still was interested in it…. Perhaps it was my aftershave! Anyway she was happy that I had not smuggled any illicit food items in to New Zealand and let me catty on to collect the rest of the luggage.
Debbie had rounded up three trolleys with the help of Mackenzie & Freya and was watching our luggage going round the carousel, so I dived in and grabbed our luggage off it and started to load up the trolleys. When all three were fully laden with the eight large suitcases, the children's car seats and the four pieces of hand luggage we made our way to the next 'hurdle' the MAF counter to have our customs forms inspected. The queue was not too bad and we handed our forms to the man on his 'stand' and asked him if the kids sweets were okay to bring in.. Which he said was okay, and checked the form we had also completed on the plane. He was satisfied with our answers and waved us through, we made our way to another queue and the final hurdle.
The last set of checks involved putting everything through an x-ray machine so MAF can make a final check to ensure nothing that could upset the New Zealand environment and ecosystems made it way in. As we queued up we could see the arrival lounge area where people were waiting to meet friends and relatives. Our turn came and I had the task of putting all the carefully loaded (heavy!) luggage on to the conveyor belt to be scanned through the machine. As we walked round to gather our stuff up fro the other side the man operating the machine question me; "Are these gum shoes in the suitcase?" Gum Shoes?, what the hell are they I thought and shot Debbie a puzzled look… I then realised he meant Wellies, Wellington boots. He was concerned that there may be mud on them… Debbie stepped in and answered the question that he had not asked yet; "Yes the kids Wellies are in there and I cleaned them with Jeys Fluid first." Satisfied that the boots had been cleaned and disinfected, he let us continue without having to open the luggage. I quickly reloaded the trolleys again and with the help of Debbie and the kids we rolled forward into the arrivals area.
We were in! and now had to pick up the rental car we had arranged, I found the nominated exit gate the rental firm had told me and we made our way to the outside. As I wanted to find the pickup bus to take us to the rental office I left Debbie with trolleys and the kids. While I was searching for the courtesy bus , two different Kiwi's asked her if they could help. The locals were friendly!
After a short wait the bus arrived with a trailer, and the driver helped me load up the trailer, which we promptly filled and we jumped into the bus eager to leave the airport campus. We sped off and to start the next challenge, driving and navigating our way across Auckland to our 'bach'.