Posted by: scribe9 | October 28, 2009

Escape to NZ

We left our home in Portland at 11 am on October 21, and arrived at our temporary home in Whangarei at noon on October 23. The trip really didn’t take 49 hours, although the six-hour layovers in San Francisco and Auckland dragged a bit. We’re just four hours earlier than Pacific Time in the US, but a day later, as we crossed the International Date Line. (We thought it would be five hours, but New Zealand is already on Daylight Savings Time.)

Our flight from SFO was on New Zealand Airlines, and we were grateful for the personable attendants, like those on Southwest. We were served supper, and it was all about New Zealand’s dairy and grain, not sheep: crackers and cheese, potato salad, roll and butter, breaded fried chicken nuggets with cheesy pasta, cheesecake. I’ve been wolfing fruits and vegetables ever since.

New Zealand customs is much more friendly and polite than Homeland Security. Since the country is heavily dependent on agriculture and quite concerned about its island ecosystems, the Biosecurity folk thoroughly cleaned our hiking shoes. (When we flew to Australia a dozen years ago, everything on the plane got sprayed, for the same reasons.)

Once inside the Auckland International Terminal, I was taken aback by the bright red signs over every trash bin: “No spitting—please use the toilet.” We saw no such signs in the domestic terminal, though, so I don’t expect a lot of expectoration.

Lots of signs are in both English and Maori. The only one I recognized in Maori was “Kia ora”—”welcome.” We’ve been to the Cook Islands, where the natives use a very similar form of Maori, in which “welcome” is “Ki orana” –and they mean it so much that it’s on the license plates.

As immigrants, we’re far from alone. The local bakery/coffee place is run by Cambodians (who’ve been here long enough to have New Zealand accents. We’d rather eat Cambodian food than the meat pies they make for the locals, but the local sweet pastries are terrific); the Irish pub is run by a woman from Sligo (and looks and feels very much like those on the Ould Sod except for the high ceiling). At the hospital Rick has English, German, and Scots colleagues, and tomorrow an Icelandic doc and his family will move in next door to us. One of the dairies (convenience stores, not farms or milk processing plants) on the corner is run by an Indian, and there are plenty of other South Asians around.

Off to Auckland tomorrow.



  1. Amy, I will look forward to your posts. Have a wonderful time! And NO SPITTING!

  2. Dear Amy, Thank you for the Blog. I have heard a lot of good things about New Zeeland and it is interesting to get first hand accounts of different places, although New Zeeland does not sound THAT different.

  3. glad to hear you arrived all right and are settling in. No Matthew tonight. Try next week.

  4. fun to keep track of you…no Matthew tonight, maybe next week we’ll ‘see’ you.

  5. Sounds like you are off to a great start. Enjoy the adventure.

  6. Hi Amy,
    This is my second try in responding to your blog.
    I am glad you have arrived and survived that long trip. My husband and I visited NZ (and Australia) in 1993, and had a wonderful time. The people are very hospitable and friendly, and I liked the weather on the north island. We flew United (I think) from Portland, to LA, to Auckland which was a relatively comfortable business class. But from NZ to Australia, we flew Quantas. What a treat. The crew was very friendly and helpful. The plane was spotless, and the food as I recall was much tastier than your dairy and grain fare. I will have to get my huge scrapbook out and begin to reminisce.
    Have fun,

  7. Hi Amy,

    I was delighted to hear from you. As I told you, we loved New Zealand. The place that is so beautiful (that I couldn’t remember) is Milford Sound. What a wonderful adventure for you and Rick. I will look forward to more news from you. gwen

    • Gwen–
      Milford Sound is definitely on the list!

  8. Great to hear about your adventure and I’m looking forward to hearing more. What are your plans while Rick is working? Gonna write? Learn to spin and weave?

    • Writing and tutoring–work I can do anywhere in the world, thank goodness. This won’t be our last stint abroad.

  9. Hi Amy –
    Glad you and Rick arrived safely. We just returned from a month using the jetBlue pass so we visited Bermuda, St. Maartens, North Carolina and Maine. Kind of a strange mix, but all places we hadn’t seen before (except Maine).

    Have fun and make sure Rick is practicing his trumpet. We don’t want him looking silly, do we?


  10. Loved hearing the hiking boots accompanied you!. The Brits did the same thing with ours in 2003.
    Did you also pack the fly rods for those trout streams on the S. Island??
    And I assume Mt. Cook (great name that) is also on your list….

    • No room for the fly rods–but once we get settled in the new house we’ll start planning hikes and other outdoorsy stuff.

  11. Amy, I love this NZ photo you posted on here. I am picturing you looking out on this amazing view when you wake up every morning. Diana

    • Diana–
      That would be nice, but I have no idea where the photo was taken, or whether it’s even in New Zealand; it just came with the website. But soon I’ll have some photos of things I’ve actually seen!

  12. What global friends you are going to make. Happy to hear you travel mercies were heard. Kia ora has a nice ring to it. Happy Halloween! –d

    • Halloween’s not a very big deal here–there’s a little trick-or-treating, and some dressing up. I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving–I now know where to get a turkey and cranberries.

  13. Hi Amy,

    I think I have this figured out now!! We can only hope! I know you will have great adventures while there…and hope you will be able to “hop” over to Australia before you return home. Ed served in New Guinea during WW2 and his jumping off point was Australia. So we had a wonderful trip there also years ago. Loved it as much as New Zealand. Take care….gwen

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